If it is generally true that all politics is local, the saying is even more true in Quebec. Sometimes, even during a federal election, every issue can get a fast-paced stamp. This has never been more apparent than during this campaign, when a relatively narrow set of concerns prompted talks and elections in the province, including a suburban commuter tunnel and the question of a debate moderator.
Between the formidable powers of the provincial government, the population’s close identification with Quebec as a nation, and Ottawa’s widespread sense as a somewhat remote power center, federal politics often feels secondary to Quebecers, regardless of their ballots. Be the main prize in the federal competition.
Voters who approach Bloc Quebecois candidate Simon Marchand on the street – with his bright red hair, he is easy to spot – rarely want to discuss the election issues that animate national news circles. Residents of Hochelaga, a working-class ride in east-end Montreal, have concerns that are closer to home: their public housing waiting lists, a proposed shipping container yard, even graffiti.
“I think there’s really a culture difference in how we view federal politics,” he said. That is, Quebecers consider it to be about Quebec.
The 35-year-old is running for a seat that has shifted over the past decade from the bloc to liberals from the NDP, and which could play a real role in tilting an election where Quebec is once again the battleground. But if Hochelaga holds the fate of a nation in his own hands, he doesn’t seem to know it.
The ride reflects an enduring irony of Canadian democracy: elections are often won and lost in a province where many voters think the proceedings necessarily belong to another country. As Mr Marchand observes, if he wins, “I’m going to be a foreign parliamentarian.”
Many of his supporters clearly agree. Wearing a Montreal Canadiens sweater outside the smoked meats restaurant Gerry’s, Manon Thomas, a potential Block voter, said the issues with his ballot-box were the health of his neighbors on nearby Avenue Bourbonnier and the poverty prevailing in the area. The fate of Canada, written extensively, apparently did not interest him, talk of a federal election.
“I don’t know Canada,” she said. “Montreal, I know. Hochelega, I know.”
This summer, not for the first time, Quebec saw a parallel campaign, with a suite of themes and personalities that would be obscure to most Canadians. Often, the top election stories were about local issues, such as the fate of a proposed commuter artery in the provincial capital. Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchett spent several days in August explaining himself after expressing personal support for a project that, despite his party’s officially neutral stance, would allow local drivers to tunnel along the southern edge of the St. will add to. (“The Third Link” tunnel scheme is popular in the disputed suburbs of Quebec City, but is considered environmentally damaging by many others in the province.)
Among other issues that have erupted almost exclusively in Quebec this election is the book burning by the French-language school board in Ontario—it was trying to purge offensive actions against indigenous peoples—and the incompetence of the new governor. General, Mary Simon, to speak French.
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Meanwhile, the greatest inflection point in Quebec’s horse racing was highly provincial in nature. When an English debate moderator asked Mr Blanchett about the province’s “discriminatory” bills to bolster the French’s position and bar some public sector workers from wearing visible religious symbols, Quebec society was perceived as The attack became a cause that promoted the bloc in an election.
“In Quebec, we are not on the same wavelength,” said Guy LaChapelle, a professor of political science at Concordia University.
That aside, it’s really true: Quebec’s francophone media ecosystem exists in deep isolation from English Canada, led by Quebec’s powerful broadcast and print empire, which has a strong nationalist leanings and “regardless of identity issues.” likes to stir the pot in .
Even many simple bread and butter policy issues are viewed through the lens of Quebec identity in the province. Throughout this campaign, gun control in Quebec has generally been linked to the mass trauma of mass shootings in the province, such as the cole Polytechnique in 1989 and the Quebec City Mosque in 2017, while child care policy has often been understood to refer to. Province pride in its pioneering affordable daycare program.
“There is no strict separation between bread and butter issues and identity issues,” said Prof.
Quebecers adhere to a far stricter separation between the federal and provincial levels of government, and generally give more prestige and importance to what is going on in Quebec City. The government in Ottawa is often seen playing a second role in the minds of some federal politicians on the campaign trail. During the second French-language debate last week, arguing with Justin Trudeau about who speaks for Quebecers, Mr. Blanchett simply said, “Quebec democracy is expressed in the National Assembly of Quebec.” (The very next day, as if to prove his point, wildly popular Premier François Legault rocked the federal election by calling on Quebec voters to support a conservative minority.)
During the NDP’s Orange Wave 10 years ago, Carl Belanger, president of Traxion Strategies and the late Jack Layton’s press secretary, said the bloc’s mere existence is another reason that federal elections in Quebec are more focused on local issues. In no other province is there a major party whose reason for existence is to draw attention to its home turf.
But every other party also has a pitch to suit Quebec, Mr. Belanger said; The NDP also adds a fleur-de-lis in the province to its logo.
“Parochial is a good word to describe the electoral narrative in Quebec,” he said.
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