May the best candidate win

Benoit Guérin from Option Nationale (left) and Liberal candidate Dave McMahon (right). Photos by Eveline Caron.

With only a few days before the provincial election, student associations from Concordia University, McGill University and Dawson College hosted an electoral debate on Thursday Aug. 30.

Candidates running in the Westmount—St-Louis riding from the Liberal Party, the Parti Québécois, Québec Solidaire, the Parti vert du Québec, Coalition Avenir Québec, Option Nationale and the Marxist-Leninist party were invited to speak at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business.


At the start of the debate, some candidates began to criticize the leadership of Pauline Marois of the Parti Québécois due to her shifting position regarding the tuition increase. Liberal candidate Dave McMahon argued that Marois lacked due conviction for her platform.

“Marois has had 16 different positions in only six months,” said McMahon.

Thierry St-Cyr, of the PQ, maintained that the party’s position has been clear from the start; to cancel the tuition fee increase and to abolish Law 12, also known as Bill 78.

Benoit Guérin from Option Nationale defended the free education approach by stating that higher education for the public leads to better jobs and therefore stimulates the economy.

“Education can fund itself,” Guérin explained.

Contrary to their fellow candidates, Johnny Kairouz for the Coalition Avenir Québec and McMahon both agreed the current rate is not enough and students need to contribute more money. Both said that they would facilitate access to student loans in order to ease the tuition swell.


Tensions ran high during the second part of the debate when candidates addressed language issues in the province. McMahon asked why Jean-François Lisée, a high profile candidate for the PQ, said publically that he favours a francophone from France over a francophone from China. He followed-up by asking if St-Cyr would apply the same attitude to Quebec.

“We give points to everyone, it has nothing to do with xenophobia,” replied St-Cyr. “It is how we measure the level of integration of the person.”

During this language segment of the debate, the PQ’s intent to extend Bill 101 to CÉGEPs was criticized by most candidates with the exception of Mélissa Desjardins of Québec Solidaire.

“Having a choice [to choose the language of instruction] is an important part of our culture to preserve,” said Lisa Cahn of the Parti vert.

The Option Nationale candidate said he believes that Bill 101 should remain as is and is not in need of revisions or adjustments. McMahon concluded by emphasizing his party’s belief in “linguistic peace,” saying that the the French language is not in decline.

Many undecided voters attended the debate Thursday in an attempt to have their questions answered. One audience member was Matthew Kabwe, a Concordia student studying communications and human relations. Kabwe said he came to the debate to decide who to vote for but left unsure, and he is likely not the only one.


Remember, remember (to vote), on the fourth of September

On Aug. 1, a provincial election was called for Sept. 4.In the wake of the student movement, provincial debt mounting, rumours of corruption and collusion, and the Charbonneau commission in mid-September, Quebecers will head to the polls to decide which party will form the next provincial government.The heavy and often confusing campaign trail filled with debates and promises are condensed into a little more than a month for potential provincial leaders to sell their parties to voters.

With 34 days to win the support and love of a province that is not, by definition, so easily led, recent polls suggest many voters, as many as 19 per cent, stand undecided and aggressive advertisements remind young adults to have their voices be heard.

The Concordian is here to simplify the voting process in such complicated times. It’s time for clarity and for students to be able to navigate the upcoming election with ease.

At Concordia, the fall semester was set to begin on Sept. 4 but is now delayed until the following day, Wednesday, Sept. 5. The university’s doors are open as of Wednesday and the additional day off will not be made up in the school calendar.

Are you eligible to vote?

In order to vote in the upcoming Quebec election, four factors must be met:

-You must be a Canadian citizen.
-You must 18 years of age or older to vote.
-You must be a Quebec resident for six months prior to election day.
-You must be on the registered voters list before Aug. 30.

Not registered to vote?

– Head to your local revision office before Aug. 30 to register to vote.
– You need to bring two pieces of identification. One must have your name and date of birth; the other must have your name and your address.

On election day

-It’s necessary to bring a piece of government issued identification such as a driver’s license or medicare card.
-Polls are open from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
-Employers must give you four consecutive hours off while the polls are open.


Liberals – Jean Charest
“For Quebec”

On Education… Increase tuition fees by a total of $1,778 over seven years. Extend and expand bursaries and loans program.
On Services… $47 million into special care for those suffering from chronic illnesses. Create 50,000 “green” environmentally friendly jobs.
On Separation… No plan for a referendum.
Worth noting: The Plan Nord, bill to tackle corruption in construction industry.

– – – – – – – – – –

Parti Québécois – Pauline Marois
“À nous de choisir”

On Education… Index tuition freeze to match the cost of living, repeal Bill 78 and review university management.
On Services… Provide additional 15,000 spots in daycares and cap daycare rate. Abolish health tax. Introduce a specialized financial aid program for entrepreneurs, especially farmers and fishermen.
On Separation… Hold a referendum for Quebec independence.
Worth noting: Restructure of the French Charter, adoption of Quebec charter of secularism.

– – – – – – – – – –

Coalition Avenir Québec – François Legault
“Enough, vote for change!”

On Education… Reduce planned tuition increase to a total of $1,000 over five years and later increase with the rate of inflation, extend high school hours to 5 p.m.
On Services… Introduce preventive programs for the young and the elderly to relieve burden on the healthcare system. $1,000 tax reduction for middle class families.
On Separation… No plan for referendum. CAQ will not promote sovereignty or federalism.
Worth noting: Ban bridging schools, several commitments aimed at reducing bureaucracy and promoting transparency.

– – – – – – – – – –

Québec Solidaire – Amir Khadir et Françoise David

On Education… Public education from the preschool to university level will be free. Improve nutritional support programs for underprivileged youth.
On Services… Provide a family physician to everyone and a midwife to all women who request one. Increase minimum wage.
On Separation… Plans to hold a referendum to create an independent Quebec.
Worth noting: Limit access to English public schools, encourage consumption of local produce.

– – – – – – – – – –

Option Nationale – Jean-Martin Aussant
“ON peut mieux pour le Québec”

On Education… Introduce free education from elementary school to post-graduate level. Make school compulsory until adulthood.
On Services… Nationalize natural resources while enforcing a moratorium on shale gas and oil. Take steps limit private healthcare.
On Separation… Promotes independent Quebec, takes steps toward sovereignty.
Worth noting: Abolition of bridging schools, extension of the French Charter.

– – – – – – – – – –

Parti Vert du Québec – Claude Sabourin
“Se donner une voix”

On Education… Abolish subsidies to private schools. Make school compulsory until adulthood.
On Services… Allot funding into preventive health measures. Implement environmental taxes on pesticides, harmful packaging, etc. Provide schools with the means to offer a variety of sports.
On Separation… Introduce a provincial constitution derived from sovereignty.
Worth noting: Promotion of four days of work per week.

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