Liberals say environment must be the issue at the ballot box in 2022 Quebec election

The Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) is in the process of redefining itself, of reviewing the contours of its identity, but it has already found its colour: green.

The environment must be the issue at the ballot box in the October 2022 general election, according to PLQ leader Dominique Anglade, who says she is determined to make it a true social project at the heart of her political platform.

"Not only must the fight against climate change, centred on the development of the green hydrogen sector, become the central element of the PLQ's program, but it must above all be the key element of the next election campaign, the one that will determine which of the parties will form the next government," said Anglade.

"I hope it will be the issue of the next election," she said Saturday morning at a news conference held on the sidelines of her party's 34th convention, which brought together several hundred activists and members at the Quebec City Convention Centre over the weekend to lay the groundwork for the PLQ's next electoral platform.

Quebec Liberal party convention day 2. Party members debating policy. Liberals gearing up for 2022 election. Climate change and environment will be key parts of party platform. More details on how this impacts Anglo community tonight @CTVMontreal at 6. pic.twitter.com/FYZ6b3JmPY

— Matt Grillo (@MGrilloCTV) November 27, 2021

She said the issue must transcend all others, and be "the priority of priorities, above all."

Anglade will bank on the environment being the issue that distinguishes her party from the CAQ government of François Legault, which, according to her, is not credible in the fight against climate change, by proposing a vision drawn "from the 20th century."

"It is quite clear that the CAQ has decided that this will not be a fundamental issue for them," she said.

In her opening speech at the convention Friday evening, Anglade insisted at length on the importance she intends to give to her ECO project, if she takes power next year. She wants to nationalize the production of green hydrogen, produced by the electrolysis of water, and make it the pillar of her energy vision.

Anglade agreed that green hydrogen, a rather abstract notion in the eyes of the general public, could seem a "difficult to conceive" project for the average person that requires an educational and communications effort on the part of the government.

"It's a form of energy that you can put in a train, that you can put in a plane, that you can put in a boat and that will replace energy that is polluting today," she said.

More than half (55 per cent) of the energy consumed in Quebec comes from hydrocarbons, she said, adding that one of the solutions to change this lies in green hydrogen, a source of energy "with extraordinary potential."

"The economy and ecology must be one," said Anglade, who also wants to increase the fees imposed on the use of water.

REDEFINING THE PARTY

Following recent criticism from behind the scenes by party activists and caucus members, she agreed that under her leadership the Liberal party is in the midst of a "redefinition."

She did not hide the fact that she wanted to impose a major turnaround on her party, which is at a low point in the opinion polls, while saying that she was aware that such a change of direction could offend certain sensibilities.

It remains to be seen whether the active base and the caucus will adhere to Anglade's ideas, vision and leadership style after 18 months in the position.

Members of the National Assembly present at the convention said they appreciated the turn of events.

Former interim leader and MNA Pierre Arcand said the leader's speech on Friday night "was very motivating."

According to him, party members adhered with "enthusiasm" to their leader's proposal on green hydrogen.

Members came out of the room "excited" after the speech, said MNA Lise Thériault, calling the leader's ideas "valuable".

MNA Christine St-Pierre said she "loved" the leader's speech adding that Anglade has a lot of "charisma" and she will show that the PLQ is the party "of great projects" during the next election campaign.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 27, 2021. 

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