New balance of power between Justin Trudeau and François Legault


Quebec PM says his Canadian counterpart does not have the legitimacy to challenge the secularism law

In the aftermath of the federal election, François Legault is already attacking the legitimacy of Justin Trudeau, who promises to do more for Quebec.

Mr. Trudeau elected 35 members to Quebec, as opposed to 32 for the Bloc Québécois. But François Legault believes that with a popular vote of 33%, Mr. Trudeau does not have the legitimacy to join the judicial appeal against the law 21 on secularism.

Mr. Legault believes that the Bloc renaissance is the expression of a “Quebec nationalist vote” rather than a resurgence of the independence movement.

According to him, this nationalist vote will have to result in more autonomy for Quebec and respect for its skills, whether in health, education, immigration or the environment.

Justin Trudeau says he received the memo from the electorate. “My dear Quebeckers, I heard your message tonight. You want to continue to move forward with us, but you also want to make sure that Quebec’s voice is more in Ottawa. I give you my word: my team and I will be here for you, “said Justin Trudeau in his victory speech, late at night from Monday to Tuesday.

Catherine Côté, a political scientist at the Université de Sherbrooke, believes that the Bloc election will be very beneficial for François Legault. “It becomes a force that he will be able to use. We agree that the NDP and the PLC are quite close. On the other hand, the Bloc has a real political weight, “she says.

Yves-François Blanchet’s party will be able to shine the spotlight on Ottawa’s far-off stakes with a perspective of a nationalist opposition party.

Coup de Jarnac

But what will be the relationship between Mr. Legault and Mr. Trudeau? The PM Quebec has emerged from neutrality and served a coup Jarnac to the Liberal leader in the election campaign denouncing his position on the law 21. The latter was however re-elected.

“Intergovernmental relations were already not good. It could make the relationship more difficult, “says Stéphanie Chouinard, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston.

Another difficulty to predict, according to her: the anger of the Prairies. The Trudeau government is “caught between the tree and the bark”: one block to the east, and one block to the west. As a minority, he will have to maintain national unity.

Making too big gifts in Quebec could further stimulate the anger of these provinces, which are already asking for more pipelines and an overhaul of Equalization, which is badly perceived in Quebec. The opposite is also true.

Centralizing trends

Another sticking point: a Liberal minority government backed by an NDP with the balance of power could interfere with provincial jurisdiction. Political scientist Louis Massicotte of Laval University recalls that the NDP has strong centralizing tendencies that will displease François Legault.

He does not believe that Monday’s results will allow the Caquist government to advance its nationalist agenda, such as obtaining a single tax return, for example.

“Quebeckers have expressed sympathy for the Bloc, but will it make things happen in Ottawa? I doubt it, “he says.

Alain G. Gagnon, Canada Research Chair in Quebec and Canadian Studies, is equally apprehensive about the centralizing tendencies of these two parties.

Boulerice alone

“It seems to me problematic for the Government of Quebec,” he said, listing the many promises of these political parties in housing, infrastructure or health. And Alexandre Boulerice will be very alone in Quebec to remind the NDP of the peculiarities of Quebec. “We should expect significant confrontations,” he says.

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