François Legault is no April fool
Come April 7, will Coalition Avenir Québec leader Legault have the last laugh?
I got back on the CAQ election bus on Sunday for the final stretch of the campaign. Waiting for the bus in a hotel lobby in Quebec City, I asked one of the cameramen who has been aboard since the election call how things have been going. He said now, they’re good. Since the debate, he told me, the mood had lifted.
That’s the message I got from campaign staff, too. They obviously feel good about Legault’s performance in the second debate and that’s given them a dose of optimism. The past few days Legault has been saying there’s a big change happening — that something has shifted, and it's in his party’s favour.
Some of the candidates I’ve talked to this week acknowledge that the first few weeks were frustrating and hard, but they say they are more optimistic now. The candidate for Chauveau Gérard Deltell told me he thinks anything is possible, while Granby candidate François Bonnardel said he thinks we're in a for a big surprise April 7.
There is less than a week left in the campaign, so whether the candidates’ optimism will translate into strong results on voting day remains to be seen. People I’ve spoken with at campaign stops do seem to like Legault, but that doesn’t mean they’ll vote for him.
On the campaign trail, Legault likes to show his sense of humour. He teases and pokes fun at his wife Isabelle Brais who is always by his side, jokes with journalists and laughs at himself, too.
Yesterday — April Fools' Day — some of the journalists tried to pull a fast one on him. At the end of his press conference, my Radio-Canada colleague Marie-Hélène Tremblay said, "Mr. Legault, just one more question…”
She told him she’d just learned Dr. Gaetan Barrette — a CAQ candidate in 2012 who is running for the Liberals this time — had just quit the Liberal party and wanted to re-join the CAQ. Legault cracked a smile as Marie-Hélène finished her question, catching on right away, and enjoying the laugh.
You can watch the exchange in the video at the top of this blog post.