New poll suggests young Quebecers support voting system reform

Young adults are ready to see a change in the current voting system, poll suggests

Following Coalition Avenir Québec’s (CAQ) victory in the provincial election, Léger conducted a survey for the Journal de Montréal asking 1,040 Quebecers aged 18 and over if they were in favour of reforming the current voting system. The data was collected from Oct. 2 to 7.

First-past-the-post (FPTP) is the current voting system, defined as a “winner-takes-all” system where the candidate with the most votes wins. Even if they don’t receive more than 50 per cent of the votes, they become the Member of Parliament for that riding and gain a seat in the House of Commons. Fair Vote Canada, a group in favour of electoral reform, describes the FPTP voting system as “distorted.”

“It [FPTP] fosters stability in general because it tends to generate majority governments rather than minority or coalition governments, as opposed to say, proportional representation,” said Dr. Daniel Béland, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. 

“At the same time, there are a lot of votes that are lost, because you vote in your riding for a candidate. And if the candidate loses your vote doesn’t have much of an impact,” Béland said. 

Guy Lachapelle, political science professor at Concordia, Legault failed to deliver on his 2018 campaign promise to implement voting reform. 

“And this argument that he didn’t have the time to implement it, I think I don’t buy it because he had created a committee right when he was elected and he signed the agreement,” said Lachapelle.  

Legault also previously stated the issue of electoral reform was a matter concerning “a few intellectuals” and not the majority of Quebecers. However, Léger’s study revealed 53 per cent of Quebecers want the current electoral system to be reviewed due to the current misrepresentation as highlighted by Béland. 

Results also show that 59 per cent of the respondents aged from 18 to 34 are in favour of electoral reform. 

Mina Collin, a journalism and political science student at Concordia, shared her disappointment with the recent elections. 

“What we’ve seen with the elections that just passed on Oct. 3 is that the system that we have is not representative especially,” said Collin. 

The recent provincial elections enforce the idea of a “seat penalty” in the House of Commons whereby the popular vote doesn’t represent the number of seats elected.  

The study also indicates the current electoral system causes a discrepancy between the percentage of votes that a political party obtains across Quebec and the number of seats it has. 

“They had a majority of popular votes than for example the Liberal Party, but it’s the Liberal party that has more seats in the Assembly.” 

 The survey also shows that 59 per cent of voters aged 18-34 favour electoral reform. 

Noah Martin, a political science student at Concordia, explained his theory for the low voter turnout of 66 per cent during this election. 

“As a poli-sci student I will still vote, but if there were [a different] system where people’s voices can be heard and represented better, then I would think people would be more likely to vote,” suggested Martin. 

Though, as the study suggests the majority of Quebecers wish for electoral reform, change is unlikely to happen in the next few years. 

“I don’t think change will happen in Quebec, anytime soon, because the current government doesn’t want change to take place, because the system works for them. They got barely 40 per cent of the vote, and they got more than 70 per cent of the seats,” said Bélanger. 

“It’s not going to happen as long as the CAQ is in power with the majority government,” he added.


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



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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