The 43rd provincial election launched early last week with candidates fanning out across the Huntingdon riding in hopes of winning over voters. According to the polls, we are not exactly in for a nailbiter on October 3. Most suggest a slow romp to victory for the reigning Coalition Avenir Québec and its leader François Legault. It is an unfortunate state of affairs, not necessarily because the CAQ is expected to win, but because of what this will mean for the campaign.
At such a critical time when action on the environment, healthcare, and the economy is needed, the parties are turning instead to focus on populist ideals, promises of handouts, and pandering to their bases. All five major parties have now promised to either mail out cheques or lower taxes. To date, few have come out with any brave plans to realistically tackle some of the pressing issues that should be addressed in the next four years.
From the very start, this campaign has also been a regrettable example of societal norms in terms of politesse and respect for the democratic process. François Legault controversially kicked off his campaign by refusing to use Liberal leader Dominique Anglade’s name, referring to her as ‘that lady.’ Since then, death threats, violent incidences, and extreme vandalism have marred the election. Heated and divisive language have stoked fears and anger where civil discourse used to be the norm.
With this in mind, it was refreshing to see the local CAQ candidate, Carole Mallette, not only speaking but laughing with Liberal candidate Jean-Claude Poissant, after they bumped into one another on separate campaign stops at the Huntingdon Country Farmers Market. Politics, and by extension politicians, do not have to be adversarial. We can but hope that the next 25 days of campaigning will see an end to the violence, and a shift away from populist pledges towards promises of bold and effective action.