Quebec's new government and the issues it faces.

Author:Milner, Henry
 
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Electorates are fickle. They punish politicians who make tough decisions, and when change is in the air they reward inexperienced parties that have no track record. In the recent Quebec election, this is what happened both on the centre-right (Liberals vs Coalition Avenir Quebec) and the centre-left (Parti Quebecois vs Quebec Solidaire). On the centre-left, a key moment came when PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisee, who was the most articulate participant in the debates, attacked QS spokesperson Manon Masse for her party's unrealistic program. This attack on a party assumed to be nowhere near power seemed unfair and, in combination with Masse's exceeding the (low) expectations in her debate performance, resulted in QS taking enough votes to give the PQ fewer seats than in any election since 1973.

On the centre-right, the CAQ was expected to win, but no polling firms anticipated a CAQ majority. It turned out that, with sovereignty off the table, francophones who were tired of the Liberals had an alternative in the CAQ, while many non-francophones stayed home rather than, as before, voting Liberal to stop the separatists. This even though the CAQ, which was largely absent in English-speaking Quebec, was frequently mischaracterized in the English media as antiminority because of its secularist position on religious symbols worn by public servants in authority.

In his...

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