Martin C. Barry
With the Coalition Avenir Québec leading in the polls and the incumbent Liberals following closely in second spot, the distant third-place Parti Québécois are still hoping – despite the odds – to reclaim seats they once held in Laval when Quebecers head to the ballot boxes on Oct. 1.
Rallying local Péquistes
PQ leader Jean-François Lisée and the party’s deputy-leader Véronique Hivon arrived in Laval aboard their campaign bus on Aug. 24, a day after the campaign opened. They addressed more than 100 devoted PQ followers – many being from an older generation of Péquistes who knew the party in better days – at the Entraide community centre in Laval’s Pont-Viau district.
Hivon, who is the PQ MNA for Joliette, is no stranger to Laval, having served as a political attaché to former Laval-des-Rapides PQ MNA Serge Ménard during his time in office. Ménard was one of several former PQ MNAs and former Bloc Québécois MPs from Laval who turned up for the rally.
Hivon invokes pride
Also on hand were former Bloc MPs Robert Carrier and Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral, as well as former PQ MNA for Sainte-Rose Suzanne Proulx. While the PQ leader dealt with some of the burning issues of the day in his address, Hivon appealed largely to the pride of her fellow Péquistes.
“That pride to fight for who we are, an extraordinary nation of Québécois who carry an incredible heritage, a history and a culture,” she said, while urging them to continue struggling to defend French – “the only official language of Quebec.”
The question of sovereignty was raised by Hivon as an ultimate goal for the PQ – although not necessarily something they would hope to tackle immediately were they to form a government on Oct. 1. “We have everything we need to become sovereign,” she said, while suggesting that a sovereign Quebec governed by the PQ would work proactively with English-speaking citizens as well as First Nations.
PQ leader Lisée speaks
In his speech, Lisée described the PQ as a political party that “doesn’t content itself only with what is. We want what will be better, and it is up to us to make it happen. We are the creators of a better Quebec and no one will stop us from creating a better Quebec.”
After pledging to do a better job of improving health and social services than either the Liberals or the CAQ, he said the PQ’s second major goal would be the defence of the French language. “Who will defend the French language in Laval, Montreal and everywhere in Quebec?,” he said, before launching into an attack on Québec solidaire whose chief spokesperson, Manon Massé, had referred the day before to French and English as “official languages” in Quebec.
Attacks QS’s Manon Massé
“I think this reflects the fact that at Québec solidaire, Quebec nationalism – the defence of the historic language of the nation – isn’t integrated. It isn’t in their DNA. It’s not their strongest point,” he said, while describing the Liberal Party as being in denial of the facts.
“They deny that the French language is losing ground in the Montreal region,” said Lisée, noting that 60 per cent of employment ads in Montreal now list English as a mandatory qualification, while others refer to French as merely being an asset. “What this means is that if you don’t speak English, for six jobs out of 10 you can’t get the job. It’s the opposite of what Bill 101 set out to do.”