New Democratic Party of Quebec returns as an option for progressive federalists

Rafaël Fortin, the leader of the New Democratic Party of Quebec​, sold his condo so he could afford to be out on the hustings.

Leader Raphaël Fortin says he's playing the long game, hoping to re-establish the NDP provincially

Raphaël Fortin sold his condo and moved into a home owned by his parents so he could afford to campaign full-time for the recently relaunched NPDQ. (Aislinn May/CBC)

Rafaël Fortin, the leader of the New Democratic Party of Quebec​, has a lot at stake in this election.

The 38-year-old sold his condominium last spring and moved into a home owned by his parents so he could afford to be out on the hustings, campaigning for the relaunched party.

"I took a break on a job. I took a loan to live [on] until Oct. 1 because the party did not have the money to pay me a salary to do it full-time," Fortin told CBC Montreal Daybreak host Mike Finnerty Wednesday.

It's a long shot for the party to win a seat in the National Assembly.

It's the first time in a decade that the party, known by its French acronym, NPDQ, ​has appeared on the provincial ballot.

Fortin knows he's up against hard odds and isn't counting on sweeping the electoral map.

Instead, his eyes are on a longterm goal: establishing the New Democratic Party of Québec as a political force. 

"If we have enough votes," says Fortin, "it can help develop the party."

Raphaël Fortin poses in front of his electric car. He says his party would reduce taxes on electric vehicles. (Guy Fortin)

Every vote has monetary value in Quebec: candidates are reimbursed campaign costs proportionally to the percentage of votes they receive. 

The NPDQ​ has roughly 1,000 registered members, and Fortin hopes that getting votes in this election will give the party much-needed resources to grow.

"If we want to be ... stronger, bigger, we need votes to have a good office and equipment and everything."

No connection to federal party​

Fortin said the NPDQ​ remains separate and independent from the federal party, although Fortin himself has run twice, both times unsuccessfully, for the federal New Democrats.

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has not endorsed the provincial party, either.

The NDP and the NPDQ​ were not always so distant. 

Until 1989, in fact, the NPDQ​ remained affiliated with the federal NDP.

The provincial party became fragmented shortly afterwards, but several splinter groups remained active. Some of them merged to become Québec Solidaire, which has seen a modest surge in support and is expected to make gains in the Oct. 1 vote.

A federalist option for progressives

The shared roots of the modern-day NPDQ​ and Québec Solidaire are reflected in their similar platforms.

Much like their counterparts in Québec Solidaire, NPDQ​ supports a basic minimum income and proposes free education from daycare through to grad school.

However, Fortin says there's one huge difference between the Québec Solidaire and NPDQ​: the NPDQ​ is staunchly federalist.

"They're running to get a country. I'm running to put progressive policies," said Fortin.

Billing itself as a choice for progressives who do not want an independent Québec, the NPDQ​ says it's giving Québec's 'political orphans' a home.

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