The late August heat may have you sweating like summer, but there is one sign that fall is just around the corner: election posters are everywhere. With the 2018 Quebec Election campaign in full swing, it’s time for another FTB Election Poll!

Just like the real election, it’s one vote per person, unlike the real election, you can change your vote as many times as you like right up until Thursday, September 27th at 11:59pm.

While the winner of the real election gets to form government, the winner of our poll gets an official endorsement article written on behalf of Forget the Box readers.

We’ve included all the major parties and a few of the more interesting options among the 21 officially registered provincial parties. If there’s one you would like to add, please feel free to do so.

One more thing to consider: we’re not asking who you think will win the election or even who you will actually be voting for, but rather who you want to win. So while you may plan on voting strategically on the first of October, in this poll we encourage you to vote with your heart.

You can vote below or in the sidebar of any site page:

Who would you like to win the 2018 Quebec Election?
  • Conservative Party of Québec 20%, 9 votes
    9 votes 20%
    9 votes - 20% of all votes
  • Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) 18%, 8 votes
    8 votes 18%
    8 votes - 18% of all votes
  • Québec Solidaire (QS) 16%, 7 votes
    7 votes 16%
    7 votes - 16% of all votes
  • Nouveau Parti Démocratique du Québec (NPDQ) 13%, 6 votes
    6 votes 13%
    6 votes - 13% of all votes
  • I Don't Live in Quebec 11%, 5 votes
    5 votes 11%
    5 votes - 11% of all votes
  • Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) 7%, 3 votes
    3 votes 7%
    3 votes - 7% of all votes
  • Green Party of Québec (PVQ) 4%, 2 votes
    2 votes 4%
    2 votes - 4% of all votes
  • Parti Nul 2%, 1 vote
    1 vote 2%
    1 vote - 2% of all votes
  • Parti Québécois (PQ) 2%, 1 vote
    1 vote 2%
    1 vote - 2% of all votes
  • None of the Above 2%, 1 vote
    1 vote 2%
    1 vote - 2% of all votes
  • Parti Culinaire du Québec 2%, 1 vote
    1 vote 2%
    1 vote - 2% of all votes
  • Parti Marxiste-Léniniste du Québec 2%, 1 vote
    1 vote 2%
    1 vote - 2% of all votes
  • Bloc Pot 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
Total Votes: 45
Voters: 45
August 28, 2018 - October 2, 2018
Voting is closed

* Featured image by Tony Webster via WikiMedia Commons

Even though I’m a news and politics writer, I’ve been neglecting the provincial election in my own front yard. My apathy comes from there being no major candidate I can, in good conscious, support.

Picture Quebec politics as a box of melted chocolates: no matter which piece you reach for, you know your hand is going to get dirty.

Quebec politics of the last forty years hasn’t been about left or right, instead it’s been about whether you would check the yes or no box during a referendum on Quebec independence. Voting along these lines for decades has led us to a 2012 election where you have fascists, separatists and French supremacists vying for the Quebec crown. Make no mistake; both the French and English are to blame.

The Fascists

Let’s start with the former federal PC leader turned Liberal Premier of Quebec Jean Charest. Since his election in 2003, Jean Charest has consistently garnered the criticism of the labour unions in the province thanks to his pro-business policies. In fact, with a full corruption investigation underway it may turn out that Charest and/or his Liberal Party was overly generous to the construction industry and possibly organized crime.

Jean Charest

Charest has raised taxes every which way on ordinary Quebecers in order to increase government revenue. He raised Hydro rates, auto insurance premiums, most government fees, and he even raised the provincial sales tax by a full percent. The only tax Charest introduced on corporations was a carbon tax in which the fossil fuel industry pays less than a cent on every litre of gasoline it ships.

When budget time came last year, Charest decided that in order to tackle the provincial deficit he would raise student tuition fees by $1625 a year over five years rather than raising any corporate taxes which are among the lowest in North America. The students of Quebec didn’t take kindly to Charest’s policy and promptly acted.

The result was this past spring’s student strike that saw hundreds of protests throughout the province over a four month period which reaped international attention. Charest feeling the pressure, but unwilling to give in to student demands decided to suppress the student protesters by passing bill 78, one of the most anti-democratic laws the province has ever seen.

Despite Jean Charest’s possible corruption, pro-business views and draconian laws, Charest knows he can always count on the federalist vote thanks to the ever present fear of Quebec sovereignty. English voters in the province have blindly flocked to the Liberal Party for decades thinking they are the only Federalist Party around. I would bet, even if the Liberal Leader suddenly went on a deadly shooting rampage, he would still get the majority vote in Montreal’s West Island.

The Separatists

Thanks to the splintering of the Parti Québécois (PQ) over the years, there are now at least three major separatist parties in the province, Québec Solidaire, Option Nationale and of course the PQ.

François Legault

Option Nationale is a hardcore separatist party founded in 2011 by former PQ MNA Jean-Martin Aussant. The party says a vote for Option Nationale is an electoral decree for complete independence and would adopt the constitution of Quebec as an independent country even before a referendum was held. Option Nationale was recently indorsed by former PQ premier Jacques Parizeau.

Québec Solidaire represents the left wing of the separatist movement and is one of the newer party’s in the province formed only six years ago. QS shares many of the same principals as the federal New Democratic Party including social justice, environmentalism, aboriginal rights and proportional representation. If elected they would eliminate student tuition fees and raise corporate income taxes to more moderate levels—it’s just too bad they want to break up the country.

The conservative Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) leader François Legault claims his party is neither sovereignist nor federalist, but nationalist and has called for a ten-year moratorium on a new sovereignty referendum. Regardless, the party wants to decentralize healthcare, provide government resources to businesses, and they are a big advocate of austerity. Furthermore, they want to limit immigration and decrease the use of the English language in Montreal (making it easier to win a referendum down the line).

The French Supremacists

In a province where 95% of the populace speaks French fluently and less than 8% of the population speaks English, you have to wonder what PQ leader Pauline Marois has up her ass. Throughout her campaign she has repeatedly spoken of the need to toughen up on the already-ridiculous language laws in the province. Within 100 days of taking power, companies with between 11 and 50 employees would come under her revised French-language charter and needless to say, millions more in government funds will be spent on the language police.

Pauline Marois

Marois has also promised to bar non-francophone citizens from running for public office. If you’re an Anglophone from Montreal who wants to run for office you’ll be forced to pass a French exam beforehand, the same goes if you’re an Inuit running for a seat up north. Marois has since backpedaled on this issue, but only because of the outrage that it received.

A PQ government would also bar members of religious minorities working on the government payroll from wearing religious symbols such as Jewish kippahs or Muslim head scarves. Why? Because the French population is predominantly Catholic. The crucifix would still be permitted.

Since the 1970’s, there have been 244,000 Anglophones who have taken the “bon voyage” down the 401. They might have preferred to drive away than stand their ground, but at least the exodus has more or less stopped in recent years. The PQ knows that in order for a future referendum on independence to be successful, they must try something more than just chasing the immigrants and English out of the province.

Marois has promised to pick fights with the Canadian Government if she’s elected, but they will not be the typical battles we normally see between premiers and the Prime Minister’s Office. Marois knows that if she passes these “French Supremacist” laws, they will be overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada and she will then use it to her political and separatist advantage.

I have always placed great importance in voting, but nothing would make me happier to see these candidates end up with 0% of the vote. But since I live in the real world and I’ve never been a big fan of placing a “strategic” vote, I’ll still be voting, just not for a fascist, separatist or French supremacist.

Get up, get out and vote!

Follow Quiet Mike on Facebook and Twitter

Ethan Cox is a Montreal-based writer and political organizer. He was formerly FTB’s news editor and the Quebec director of Brian Topp’s NDP leadership campaign. He is currently the Quebec correspondent covering the provincial election for Rabble.ca where this post originally appeared.

This week’s lesson in 21st century campaigning: blocking critics on twitter is like refusing to shake a voter’s hand.

On Tuesday of last week I discovered that Francois Legault’s twitter account had blocked me. A quick look around the social media site revealed I was not alone. On that day he had apparently blocked dozens of people, for unknown reasons.

Blocking critics left and right, making widely ridiculed “demands” of Quebec students (which spawned the derisive, and hilarious, hashtag #laCAQdemande) and falsely accusing a writer covering the election of engaging in personal attacks are all textbook examples of doing it wrong on social media.

I took to twitter to point out that blocking critics was an unwise thing for a politician to do, especially one running to be leader of the province. I described it as earned negative publicity, a point made clear the next day when CBC Radio’s Homerun show covered the issue. The CAQ and Legault did not respond to an offer to participate in that segment.

In the interview, which is unfortunately not available online, I speculated that I had either been blocked for a feature profile I did of fired CAQ candidate Kamal Lutfi, in which Lutfi was highly critical of Legault, or for a tweet criticizing Legault’s changing position on Bill 78.

The next day Legault was interviewed on Homerun, where they played him a clip of my interview and asked him to comment. He repeatedly asserted that the only people he had blocked on twitter had engaged in personal attacks against him, and implied that I had been sending him insults and personal attacks.

I created a Storify with the transcript of Legault’s interview, and all of the tweets I sent to him in the week before he blocked me. I was critical of him on a couple of occasions, which is my job, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide if anything I wrote qualifies as a personal attack.

Today, at the insistence of a CAQ staffer, Legault finally unblocked me on twitter.

The irony of this story is that I had written an article ten days ago ranking each of the different parties prowess on social media. I gave the CAQ high marks and singled out Legault for being the only major party leader using the medium. I argued that he was using twitter effectively, and embracing the interactivity of the medium.

If he had set out to prove me wrong, and demonstrate how quickly one can go from hero to zero on twitter, he could hardly have done a better job.

After a promising start, which earned him widespread praise and respect, Legault’s gaffe-filled week should serve as a cautionary tale for other politicians on Twitter. I maintain that a little common sense would do wonders in avoiding such blunders, but that seems to be in short supply among Quebec politicians who are learning how to use social media as they go.

 

Bits and pieces from the campaign trail

My sources inform me that a memo was sent to all NDP staffers in Quebec, instructing them to stay out of the provincial election campaign. While it’s understandable that the NDP would not want to be seen as taking sides, many staffers are unhappy about being prevented from helping out their chosen party, or even commenting publicly on the campaign. I am told the staff union is contemplating a grievance.

***

photo: John Morstad (McGill)

While four party leaders will take part in Radio-Canada’s official campaign debate, rival network TVA stirred the pot this week by announcing plans for anadditional three debates which will exclude Quebec Solidaire, and feature only the leaders of the PLQ, PQ and CAQ.

As far as I’m concerned, all the debates should include not only QS, but also Option Nationale and the Quebec Green Party. However, I do understand the rationale for excluding ON (polling below 1%, sole MNA is a floor crosser) and the PVQ (polling around 3.5%, no MNAs).

Quebec Solidaire on the other hand is polling around 10%, and boasts an elected MNA. In fact, they are polling higher in this province than the NDP were at the beginning of last May’s election campaign, and hold the same number of Quebec seats the NDP did then, and we all know how that turned out.

It has been pointed out frequently on twitter and elsewhere that TVA is owned by Quebecor, the massive media conglomerate run by Pierre-Karl Peladeau. To say that the man behind Sun News Network opposes the policies of QS would be putting it mildly, and I certainly hope this exclusion is not politically motivated.

Whatever the reason for it, excluding QS from these debates will fundamentally alter the landscape of this election. For many voters, the debates are their best opportunity to assess the leaders and make up their mind. If QS is excluded from these debates, it is likely they will slip off the radar of many voters.

Agree or disagree with their politics, we should all acknowledge that QS has earned a seat at the table, and pressure TVA to re-consider.

***
photo from CBCWill Prosper, the co-founder of Montreal-Nord Republik and its main spokesperson, announced today that he would be running for Quebec Solidaire in the riding of Bourassa-Sauve. Montreal Nord-Republik was born out of the riots that engulfed Montreal North after the shooting death of unarmed teenager Fredy Villanueva by Montreal police officers, who were  later cleared of wrongdoing in the case.

A passionate and articulate advocate for the marginalized and immigrant communities in Montreal’s North end, Prosper and his organization have been tirelessly fighting the widely acknowledged racial profiling Montreal’s police force routinely engage in. But Prosper is more than an activist with an axe to grind against the police. He is an ex-cop himself, who spent five years with the RCMP before becoming the de facto spokesperson for Montreal North.

The riding of Bourassa-Sauve has a high concentration of immigrants, and a significant black community. Prosper is one of the most widely respected leaders within those communities, and if he can convince their members to engage with the political process, and even help out on his campaign, this could become a riding to watch. Here’s an old profile from the Toronto Star.

Follow Ethan Cox on twitter, where he keeps tabs on all the latest news from #Qc2012 and the #ggi:@EthanCoxMTL

*Photos from Rabble.ca, John Morstad, and CBC.