Francois Legault does not speak for a majority

How much of a mandate does Legault of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) party really have?

News media outlets have been clear since the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) won Quebec’s provincial election: they won by a stunning majority. No, no, actually, they “romped to victory,” they won a “commanding majority,” they “surged,” “swept to power” and “stormed to a majority,” according to various sources.

This rhetoric would make a person think the CAQ was elected by an overwhelming majority of Quebecers. Certainly, premier-designate François Legault would have you believe that.

At a press conference held the day after the election, Legault proposed using the notwithstanding clause to force through legislation that would ban public authority figures from wearing religious symbols. He said the “vast majority” of Quebecers agreed with his proposed ban and, therefore, it wasn’t a big deal to use the clause (and besides, Premier Doug Ford already did it in Ontario).

So, Legault wants to disregard a vital aspect of democratic society (the Constitution of Canada), but he cites a foundational democratic concept (that of “the majority”) as giving him the mandate to do so. It seems Legault is only interested in democracy when it suits him.

Besides, a closer look at the election results deflates the idea that Legault represents the will of a majority of Quebecers. The CAQ received approximately 38 per cent of the popular vote. That in itself is not an “absolute” majority, which would require more than 50 per cent of the vote in order to have more votes than the combined opposition.

However, in Canada, we operate by a plurality voting system, sometimes referred to as “first-past-the-post (FPTP),” where a party simply needs to get more votes than any other party to win. What this means is that a majority of the candidates who won seats for the CAQ did not get at least 50 per cent of the vote.

Moreover, voter turnout for the 2018 election was estimated at 63 per cent. There are about six million eligible voters in Quebec; a little over 3.7 million of them came out to vote. This adds up to the CAQ representing 38 per cent of just 63 per cent of eligible voters, so approximately 1.4 million people. Legault speaks for 1.4 million people in a province of more than eight million.

Legault’s majority is an electoral majority, and that’s a weak basis on which to claim one has a mandate to act for a ‘majority of quebecers.’ Pretty much anyone you ask right now agrees that the democratic election process needs reform. Elections keep resulting in situations where a small segment of voters can elect a “majority” government that doesn’t represent the true feelings of most people.

An alternative model to FPTP is proportional representation, which essentially means the number of seats a party gets in the legislature is equivalent to the percentage of the popular vote they received. In Quebec, that would mean the CAQ had 47 seats in the National Assembly, the Liberal Party would have 30, Parti Quebecois 22 and Quebec Solidaire 19.

In a situation like that, if the three opposition parties decided to put their differences aside and oppose the most egregious elements of the CAQ’s agenda, they could. That would be a truer representation of people’s will than the FPTP system.

When contemporary conservative politicians are criticised for their inhuman policies, they often smugly reply that they have the will of the people behind them. We need to remind them of the basic facts of electoral democracy. Rarely does any government under a FPTP system have a real claim to majority representation. If you want us to accept your proposals, you need to argue them on the merits. So, tell me, what are the merits of state harassment of religious minorities?

Graphic by @spooky_soda



Vote for this election’s socialist candidate

Québec solidaire is the most morally conscious party in the upcoming election

While the other major parties appeal mostly to the majority—the white, middle class of Quebec—Québec solidaire is dedicated to protecting visible minorities and lower-income people. They have been consistently open about the core of their plan: to increase taxes on corporations and the mega-rich, and increase social services for the lower classes. They’ve stated that they will raise taxes for citizens earning more than $97,000 per year, and lower taxes for those earning less than $80,000, while those between these income brackets would see no change.

With this new tax system as well as other initiatives—such as lessening our dependance on big pharmaceutical companies by buying drugs in bulk and selling them to individual citizens at a lower rate—Québec solidaire said it will free up $12.9 billion in taxpayer money to invest in public programs.

One of the party’s goals is to make dental insurance free and accessible to all. Their mandate is to offer a 100 per cent rebate for people with low income and citizens under 18 who visit the dentist. Other citizens will get an 80 per cent reimbursement on cleanings and preventive care, and 60 per cent for curative care.

The party will launch an inquiry into systemic racism in the province, and will implement a strict quota to ensure visible minorities represent 25 percent of new employees in Quebec businesses until an overall representation rate of 13 per cent is achieved. They also plan to gradually change the organization of our educational system, from kindergarten to university, to make it free for everyone in the next five years.

These are only a few of the party’s plans, but I hope it gives a sense of their core values. Other initiatives that I don’t have the space to list here have demonstrated the party’s unwavering dedication to issues of environmental sustainability, women and LGBTQ+ community, Indigenous peoples, immigrants and Quebec’s homeless population.

They believe that these ambitious goals are incompatible with the values and organization of Canada’s federal government, and so they are promising a referendum in their first term. While I am personally not sure where I stand on this, I would be very surprised if the overall vote was in favour of separating Quebec to be its own country, so it is not an issue that I am particularly concerned about.

Many of the party’s critics claim their figure of $12.9 billion in savings is an overestimate, but in my opinion the actual figure is less important than the intention behind it. The bottom line is that Québec solidaire is going to take from the rich and give to the poor. If you are among the higher-income classes, it is not in your self-interest to vote for this party. But self-interest is the very mentality that Québec solidaire attempts to confront. They are more interested in the communal good, and that is what sets them apart from other parties in the race.

Another common critique of the party is that they are going to drive wealthy people and corporations out of the province. Although, in my opinion, this is probably not true. Assuming it is: What makes that such a bad thing? Why do we insist on protecting the interest of the wealthy over the survival of the poor? To preserve jobs? Are we really so dependant on corporations that we need to keep their profits in the millions or billions so their CEOs can buy yachts, private jets or a Westmount mansion while we work all week to barely make rent?

If many corporations did leave the province under Québec solidaire’s government, wouldn’t smaller businesses step up and take their place? We should be saying good riddance to massive corporate hierarchies rather than begging them to stay.

The biggest problem Québec solidaire faces in this election is that the majority of its support comes from the demographic that is least likely to vote: young people. Our parents and grandparents will continue to vote Liberal as they always do, therefore it is up to us to go out and make our voices heard.

Quebec residents can vote in the LB building at Concordia on Sept. 25, 26, and 27, but only from their electoral district on Oct. 1.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin



Voicing our votes

Well, we’re back folks. This week’s editorial may seem pretty uncontroversial, but it is important nonetheless. The Concordian would like to remind all of you Quebec residents out there that you should definitely vote in the upcoming provincial election. There are plenty of reasons to go vote, including exercising your right to freedom while we’re not yet living under a fascist regime.

The main reason is this: voting is fun! Go out and vote, tell your friends, hell, make an event for you and some people you know to go to the polling station together. Talk about the candidates while you wait in line, socialize, network, exercise your skills in the art of virtue signaling. Voting is really as much about the journey as it is the destination.

It is easy to feel small and insignificant next to the scale of the faceless, multinational capitalist machine that is our contemporary society. But one way of confronting that is to pull up your bootstraps, go out, and be a responsible citizen.

As important as your vote is in the singular goal of electing a new political leader, it is also powerful as a statistic. If politicians see that a higher percentage of young people are voting, or whatever other demographic you’re from, future political platforms will be more tailored to your priorities and ideologies.

Politicians will see that x number of young people/students voted, what their political ideologies are, and future political campaigns will be tailored to that new information. Your vote has a direct impact in letting the powers that be know what you want.

You might feel like there’s no point in voting because none of the running candidates have your interests in mind. While there may be some truth to this, the best way to change that is to let them know that you are watching and you are invested enough to vote. If you really dislike all of the candidates, you can vote “no preference,” which still gets your opinion out there.

There’s really no excuse not to vote, especially if you claim to care about political issues. We get the whole day off from school (though sadly, the make-up day is on a Sunday), so you might as well use that time to do something productive that will make you feel accomplished and fulfilled. To find out where to vote, all you have to do is go to and enter your home location. It will provide the exact address, dates and times you can vote. If your riding isn’t in Montreal, use this as an excuse to go home for a bit. Like, “Yeah, I’m totally not homesick at all I’m just going home to vote,” in case you need to save face or protect your rep.

Vote to speak and have your voice heard. Vote to shift the structure of the society that we live in. Vote to move toward an idealized, socialist utopia. If nothing else, vote to gain a sense of superiority over those who didn’t vote. That’s always fun.

Archive Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth


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