On August 23, as McGill students enjoyed the final weeks of their summer vacation, Philippe Couillard called a provincial election. While most McGillians will spend September lounging at OAP, getting smashed at Café Campus, and “exploring” Montreal by going to cafés in the Plateau, a provincial election will be in full-swing right under their noses.
While most McGillians will spend September lounging at OAP, getting smashed at Café Campus, and “exploring” Montreal by going to cafés in the Plateau, a provincial election will be in full-swing right under their noses.
The Liberal Party of Québec, led by Philippe Couillard, is hoping to win a second term. The party led Quebec from 2003-2012, and again from 2014-2018. In 2012, their attempt to raise in-province tuition resulted in widespread havoc. McGill students partook in the student protests with strength and fervour. Some even viewed their involvement as a part of their University Experience™! The Parti Québecois (PQ) defeated the Liberals in 2012, only to lose to the Liberals in 2014, in an election overrun by the PQ’s failed attempts to revive an ethno-nationalist separatist sentiment. Although the victory of Couillard’s Liberals was a relief when compared to the confused, racist remains of a left-wing party (the PQ), the Liberal’s austerity measures have led to a decrease in the quality of health and education services.
In response to the failures of a de facto two-party system in Quebec, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) was formed. The centre-right, quasi-libertarian party claims to provide Quebec voters with a never-before-heard option: privatize everything! The CAQ is polling at 37% while the Liberals are at 32%. Additionally, like the PQ, the CAQ believes that immigrants should take a “values” test before being granted citizenship. It is unclear what the test will consist of, but some suspect that testees will have to quote lines from «Le coeur a ses raisons», the acclaimed Québecois TV show starring iconic Québec actors Marc Labreche, Anne Dorval, and Celine Dion.
Québec Solidaire (QS), the only veritable leftist party in the province, had three Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) in the last Legislature. Their policies are comprehensive and their polling numbers have doubled. That said, even if they were to triple their seats, they would still only have 9 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly. ¡Viva la revolución!
One would think that the fact that a racist centre-right party and a less racist centre-right party are vying to win the election on October 1st would prompt activism in student centres, such as McGill. Alas, McGill’s international student population is largely uninterested by Quebec politics. “Couillard, il est sérieux avec son nom?” said Camille de Labranche, a management student from Paris. McGill’s Canadian student population thinks Quebec politics are irrational: “Quebec’s politics are so based in racism and French-Canadian identity,” said Tom, a Political Science major from the GTA, who may or may not have voted for Doug Ford. McGill’s in-province population is largely composed of anglophone Montrealers, who are equally disdainful of Quebec politics: “I’m from Westmount, and I’m moving to Toronto as soon as I graduate,” said Claudia, who is from Westmount and is moving to Toronto as soon as she graduates (honestly, we’re surprised she hasn’t already left).
McGill’s Canadian student population thinks Quebec politics are irrational: “Quebec’s politics are so based in racism and French-Canadian identity,” said Tom, a Political Science major from the GTA, who may or may not have voted for Doug Ford.
Despite the fact that the new government’s policies will affect McGill University through its provincial funding and McGill students through the province’s regulation (or lack thereof) of tuition–not to mention the rest of the province’s 8.215 million residents–McGill students will spend September completely oblivious to the ongoing election. And, despite the fact that the election is in full swing, McGillians have reported feelings of shock and confusion when faced with the “jarring” campaign signs found around campus.