Quebec Conservative Party platform features 5 themes, but many issues left out

The Quebec Conservative Party's platform, unveiled during an event on Sunday, is silent on many topics including relations between Quebec and Ottawa, access to justice, minority and Indigenous rights, the fight against domestic violence and youth protection services.

Party's promises on public transit focus on Quebec City region, disregard rest of province

A man speaks into a microphone with people standing behind him
Quebec Conservative Party leader Éric Duhaime unveiled a party platform that focuses on five themes during Sunday's event in Drummondville, Que. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Voters interested in the Conservative Party of Quebec may be disappointed going through the party's platform, which was made public Sunday in Drummondville, Que., as it fails touch on many issues while remaining vague on several others.

The party's platform doesn't mention its commitments on matters of immigration, culture or the promotion of the French language. It also says nothing about the number of daycare spots required to address the needs of parents. It's also silent on issues of agriculture, relations between Quebec and Ottawa, access to justice, minority and Indigenous rights, the fight against domestic violence, youth protection services and the size of government among other topics.

"We chose to come up with a platform that was based on five themes which we intend to hammer home during the electoral campaign," explained Éric Duhaime, the party's leader, while meeting with reporters after his speech in front of his candidates. He said other issues are touched on in the platform that was released on the party's website.

The Quebec Conservatives's platform, which Duhaime will defend during the upcoming electoral campaign, contains about 60 pages that focus on a few issues: health care, the economy, childcare, tax cuts as well as transportation and the environment. Some of the party's commitments had already been made public.

A fierce defender of individual freedoms, Duhaime wants first and foremost to "give back more freedom" to Quebec citizens, under the slogan "Libres chez nous" (French for "Free at home") and his platform titled "Liberté 22."

That platform was unveiled in front of about 100 of the party's candidates which were gathered in a community centre. They received pre-election training on Saturday.

On the issue of climate change, the party was vague about its intentions. It said it wants to prioritize "realistic" ambitions and doesn't set a target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Targets have been missed by every government until now, said Duhaime to justify his choice to not reveal any specific number.

A woman is holding a campaign sign.
Supporters of Quebec Conservative Party leader Éric Duhaime cheer on as he speaks during Sunday's unveiling of his election campaign platform in Drummondville, Que. Quebecers will go to the polls on October 3rd. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Duhaime reaffirmed his opposition to the new French language law, known as Bill 96. He described himself as a nationalist while stressing that that he is against interfering with fundamental freedoms.

On matters of transportation, the party focused its commitments solely on the Quebec City region, with no mention of Montreal or the rest of the province.

He reaffirmed his opposition to the tramway project in the provincial capital, while promising free public transit there. He is for the construction of a third link, but against the Coalition Avenir Québec government's plan for a tunnel linking Québec and the city of Lévis. The Quebec Conservatives would instead aim to build a bridge in the eastern part of the region, near l'île d'Orléans.

On the issue of health care, one word stands out in the party's platform: competition. The contributions of the private health sector would be key. The party would change the way hospitals are financed and some of them would be managed by private companies, and doctors would be encouraged to engage in mixed practice.

Private supplementary insurance would be available for health care services already covered by Medicare and the party is committing to training more physicians. 

For childcare, the party plans to gradually do away with the government's role in financing the daycare system, relying instead on direct aid to parents thanks to vouchers of $200 per week per child. Again, the party says it prefers competition. That would include the setting of service costs and the deregulation of the daily fee of $8,70. 

The party's platform makes no mention of a target number of daycare spaces it wants to create, even as the current waiting list has 52,000 names.

"We believe the market will fix the problem," he said.

A man is holding a book
Éric Duhaime, the leader of the Quebec Conservatives, released a party platform on Sunday that includes a plan to gradually phase out the government's role in financing the daycare system and giving parents vouchers of $200 per child per week. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

On the tax front, the Quebec Conservatives are banking on reducing the taxpayer burden, with a promise of a $2,000 tax cut for those with an annual income of $80,000, for example. It also wants to suspend gasoline taxes and abolish the tax on used goods, and progressively reduce the payroll tax.

A Conservative government would better exploit natural resources and would approve the GNL Quebec project

During his speech, he said his party had grown exponentially in a short time span, going from 500 to 60,000 members.

In a message to the province's anglophones, he said in English that they were no longer hostages of the Liberal Party of Quebec.

This is a translation of a French report published by La Presse Canadienne