Founded in 2011 by François Legault, a former cabinet minister and airline executive, and Charles Sirois, a businessman who supported the Liberals, the centre-right party sought to move away from the independence debate, instead promoting Quebec nationalism rather than secession from Canada.
The Lego government tightened the provincial French language law and banned some public employees, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols at work. He also actively invoked the “notwithstanding this” clause to protect both of these controversial laws from being challenged by the Charter.
His government is also seeking more autonomy from Ottawa, including more power over immigration.
Lego, which has remained popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, is powered by its track record and the province’s strong economy. Recent polls have shown that he will be re-elected with a larger majority than the one he received in 2018.
Liberal Party of Quebec
The Liberal Party of Quebec has long positioned itself as a defender of federalism and champion of the economy, but since 2018 the CAQ has successfully positioned itself as a safe option for federalist and economist voters.
Since the last election, the Liberals have struggled to build rapport with Francophones and alienated some of their English-speaking base in Montreal.
According to a recent Léger poll, support for the party among Quebec’s French-speaking majority is seven percent. And while the Liberals voted against the reform of the Lego language law, which was seen by some English speakers as an attack on their community, the party’s initially ambiguous stance angered English speakers. In response to liberals being seen as weak defenders of English-speaking rights, at least two new parties have formed – the Bloc of Montreal and the Canadian Party of Quebec – that claim to represent the interests of the province’s linguistic minorities.
Liberal leader Dominique Anglade, who worked as a governance consultant before entering politics, says her party offers a unifying alternative to Lego’s “arrogant” and “divisive” government.
Anglade, a former CAQ president who left the Lego Party in 2015 over her stance on immigration and identity issues, is promising tax cuts for those earning less than $92,500 and a $100 billion green hydrogen plan.
While Québec Solidaire has no traditional leader – instead it names one woman and one man “co-chairs” – party spokeswoman Gabrielle Nadeau-Dubois is the party’s nominee for prime minister. He became known in the province as the leader of the 2012 student protests that led to months of demonstrations and made international headlines.
Nadeau-Dubois said his party will campaign to address Quebec’s affordable housing shortage by helping people cope with rising living costs and combating climate change.
If elected, Québec Solidaire will change the province’s secularism law to allow public sector workers affected by the legislation to wear religious symbols at work – as long as their faces are uncovered.
And although the party expressed concern about the possible negative impact of the CAQ language reform law on indigenous communities, Québec Solidaire supported the bill.
In 2018, Québec Solidaire increased from three seats in the Quebec legislature to 10 as the left-wing party made gains outside of Montreal for the first time.
The 2018 elections were only the second time since 1973 that the Parti Québec was not elected by the Quebec government or the official opposition. And while the party won 10 seats in that election, it had seven members at the start of the 2022 election campaign because two have resigned in the last four years and one was expelled following allegations of sexual assault.
Recent polls ranked PQ in fifth place with about nine percent of the vote.
Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, a lawyer who studied at McGill University and holds an MBA from Oxford University, says he wants to focus his campaign on Quebec sovereignty. He says that the fact that Lego has to ask Ottawa for more power shows the need for independence.
Conservative Party of Quebec
The Quebec Conservative Party received less than two percent of the vote in the 2018 election, but since former Quebec radio host Eric Duhem was named leader in April 2021, the party has regularly won around 14 percent of the vote.
Duhem enlisted the support of disgruntled former CAQ voters upset by the party for imposing some of the nation’s strictest COVID-19 restrictions, including a curfew that lasted five months. The party has also enlisted the support of people opposed to the introduction of a vaccine against COVID-19.
Quebec Conservatives, not affiliated with the Conservative Party of Canada, are campaigning for more healthcare privatization, tax cuts and government cuts. Duhem has stated that he opposes reform of the Lego language law, but supports a ban on religious symbols.
Prior to the dissolution of the legislature, the Lego Party had 76 seats, the Quebec Liberals had 27, the Solidarity Québécois had 10, and the Parti Québécois had seven. The Conservative Party of Quebec held one seat, and there were four independents.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 28, 2022.
Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press