Montreal·Ballot Brief

It's day 27, and ground is shifting under the CAQ

We’re in deep now. Two debates down. Twelve days until we all head to the polls. It’s getting down to the wire.

We’re in deep now. Two debates down, 12 days until we all head to the polls

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We're in deep now. Two debates down. Twelve days until we all head to the polls. It's getting down to the wire, and you're going to need to make your decision soon.

Will you stay with your first choice? Will you flip to your backup? Swipe left? Swipe right?

Decisions, decisions.

Here's what you need to know on day 27.


The Breakout 

By Benjamin Shingler, @benshingler

Well, that was fun.

For anglophone lobby groups, the fact that party leaders took part in a TV debate in English at all (for the first time ever) was reason to celebrate.

On the other hand, some French-speaking pundits warned that debate set a dangerous precedent and would contribute to the erosion of Quebec's official language.

But what does it mean for the election?  The language spoken may have been different, but the key sources of conflict were the same: education, health care and, especially, immigration.

And yet, there was a little more bite in the exchanges than we heard in the French debate, maybe because in their second language, the leaders had to be more direct.

Or maybe because they smelled vulnerability.

The most vicious attacks were directed at François Legault, the front-runner, who is not as adept in English as Philippe Couillard and Jean-François Lisée.

After a rough weekend during which the CAQ leader flubbed his answer in response to a reporter's question on immigration, Legault's rivals teamed up against him and repeatedly called into question his plan to reduce the number of immigrants.

Legault was asked another skill-testing question today: How many Canadian provinces are bilingual? He deflected.

(The answer is, just one. New Brunswick.)

These pop quizzes may not matter to voters, but credibility does.

The latest polls suggest Legault may be challenged on that front.

His support appears to be sliding since the French-language debate, and the CAQ is now projected to win a minority rather than majority government.  

As Oct. 1 approaches, there will be more questions still.

The Breakdown

Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard listens to a question after his speech to the Chamber of Commerce while campaigning Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018 in Montreal, Que. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)
  • A day after the English-language debate, Couillard was back on the English airwaves taking aim at the CAQ's immigration plan. On CBC's Daybreak, he said the CAQ's plan is moving the conversation around immigrants back into the bad place that he says it was in when the PQ pushed its own values charter in 2014. Read more
  • The CAQ wants to add a third lane to Highway 30 on Montreal's South Shore between highways 10 and 20. It wouldn't be a reserved carpool/bus lane. François Legault says he wants to invest in public transit, but he also wants to end traffic jams on the 30. That makes sense, right? Right? Anyway, the highway goes through the Vachon riding, where former Montreal police commander Ian Lafrenière is running for the CAQ.
  • The PQ says it will eliminate the public daycare waiting list during its first mandate. How, you ask? By creating 21,000 new spots in CPEs. But wait, how again? By spending $127 million to pull it off. The party says the CPE model is the best — an obvious dig at the CAQ, which wants to put all four-year-olds in pre-kindergarten.

The Race

The first post-French-debate update to CBC's Quebec Poll Tracker is out, and there has been some movement. As we mentioned, the CAQ is now in minority territory. If the CAQ is slipping, that means another party is surging, and that party is … Québec Solidaire.

(Hélène Simard/CBC)

Just the Facts

During the debate, a team of six journalists set out to separate fact from fiction. François Legault, for example, said only 59 per cent of Quebecers are able to see a family doctor within a day, and it looks like that's true.

He got that number from a 2011 report by the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ). The situation is even worse in the evening or on weekends, when only about a quarter of people reported being able to see a doctor. More recent statistics — from 2013-2014 — indicate that 75 per cent of Quebecers 12 and older have access to a family doctor, but it's unclear how long it takes to get an appointment to see that doctor.

Curious about what other claims were investigated? Read the full story.

(Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada)

Tomorrow, it's PQ Leader Jean-François Lisée's turn on Daybreak. Listen live here. And the leaders debate once again on Thursday. The fun never stops!

Do you think you've heard enough to make your decision? Haven't heard enough on an issue dear to your heart? Drop us a line at drop us a line at or check us out on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and let us know what you want to know.

One less decision you have to make: Ballot Brief will be back tomorrow, right in your inbox, with all the election news that's fit to, uh, send.

À la prochaine,

-Melinda Dalton, social media editor


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