CAQ leader rejects electoral reform on campaign trail, says he will work with other Quebec parties

François Legault says Quebecers aren't interested in electoral reform despite the fact his party is projected to win roughly 100 seats in the 125-seat legislature even though the CAQ is polling at less than 40 per cent support.

Record numbers of Quebecers vote in advance polls

A man in a suit stands at a podium at a marina with a woman on his left and a man on his right.
CAQ Leader François Legault swung through Gaspé on his way back from visiting the Magdalen Islands Monday to assess damage from post-tropical storm Fiona. (Mathieu Potvin, Radio-Canada)

Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault says he's open to working with opposition parties if his party wins the Oct. 3 election, but he is rejecting all calls to reform the electoral system.

Quebecers, he said, aren't interested in electoral reform despite the fact his party is projected to win roughly 100 seats in the 125-seat legislature even though the CAQ is polling at less than 40 per cent support.

"It's not a priority for Quebecers, but we'll see how they vote on Oct. 3," Legault told reporters during a campaign stop on the Gaspé peninsula. "Nothing is settled, no one has been elected."

A poll released Tuesday by Leger for Quebecor media properties has the CAQ at 37 per cent support, followed by Québec Solidaire, the Liberals, the Conservatives and the Parti Québécois, each with 15 to 17 per cent support. The poll cannot be assigned a margin of error because respondents were selected from an online panel and not randomly.

Poll-aggregator website has some of those opposition parties — despite polling 15 per cent or more — failing to secure a seat because of the fragmented vote.

 The PQ started the election campaign with nine per cent, according to Leger.

PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon implored Quebecers to consider the consequences to democracy if Legault's party isn't met with a sizable opposition in the legislature. "Do we want to give absolute power to François Legault without any counterbalance or the least counterbalance possible? Or do we want strong opposition parties? And what kind of opposition parties do we want?"

Legault promised during the 2018 election to reform the voting system. The CAQ introduced legislation in its first mandate to create a mixed electoral system in which 45 of the 125 ridings would be distributed based on proportional representation.

But the bill died quickly and Legault has since maintained that Quebecers don't care enough to change the status quo.

Legault described himself as a uniting figure and said he is open to working with opposition parties on issues such as the environment and the protection of French.

"I see my role as premier to bring people together, to work with the opposition," Legault said, brushing off suggestions by the opposition that he is arrogant, saying Quebecers don't see him that way.

Other party leaders skeptical of Legault's promise

In Montreal, Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade did not believe Legault's expression of good faith.

"If there is one thing that François Legault has shown us in the last four years, it is his unwillingness to collaborate," she told reporters, adding that he prefers to impose his ideas on other.

Group of people seen from behind.
Quebec voters line up to cast their ballots on Sunday, Sept. 25. The general election is on Oct. 3. (Daniel Thomas/Radio-Canada)

QS Co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois also questioned Legault's willingness to work with opposition parties, but he accepted Legault's olive branch. He told reporters that regardless of the outcome on Oct. 3, his party will work "with everyone who is going to want us to fight climate change."

But he cautioned: "During his mandate, the outgoing premier did not demonstrate [...] the will to work with the other political parties on the issue of the environment." 

The PQ's St-Pierre Plamondon called Legault out for a "lack of sincerity and transparency" about the third transport link between Quebec City and Lévis. He also said the CAQ's leader's stubborn refusal to make all studies on the project public "is a lack of respect for people's intelligence."

St-Pierre Plamondon's comments follow a Radio-Canada report detailing that the consortium responsible for carrying out the study provided exhaustive data on the feasibility of the project more than a year ago. He said Legault should make public all studies paid for with taxpayers' money. 

Record participation in advanced polling 

Also Tuesday, Élections Québec said a record 23 per cent of Quebec's 6.3 million eligible voters participated in two days of advanced polls. More than 1.44 million people cast votes on Sunday and Monday. Three ridings around the provincial capital reported advanced voting turnout of more than 30 per cent.

"This is indeed the highest participation rate following the advance poll," said Dany Lapointe, a spokesperson for the office that oversees elections.

It's unclear, however, whether the record number of early ballots is a sign of high overall turnout or a shift in voting behaviour.

In the 2018 election, about 67 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, down from 71 per cent in 2014.

With files from Radio-Canada


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