February 21, 2014

Party's charter flight to majority

Based in a city that once bid for the Olympics — and perhaps will again someday when a mountain high enough for a downhill race can be found — it’s not surprising the political maneuvering in recent weeks in Quebec City has been dubbed the “winter games.”

Premier Pauline Marois is hoping to lead her Parti Quebecois to top spot on the podium and the political equivalent of a gold medal: a majority government.

As of this writing, all signs point to an election call as early as next week, with possible dates of the vote being March 31 or April 14. 

A poll out this week may have provided the incentive Marois has been waiting for to put an end to her slim 18-month-old minority and roll the electoral dice. That poll by the CROP firm for Le Soleil and La Presse shows Parti Quebecois with a nearly 20-point lead over the Opposition Liberals for the support of the critical francophone vote. 

If these numbers hold — and there is precedent that they won’t necessarily — it means the Parti Quebecois would pick up seats in areas outside Montreal, in some rural areas and in the Quebec City region. 

It is certainly not out of the ordinary for a minority government anywhere in the democratic world to seek a way to gain a majority, indeed it is expected. It’s a special case in Quebec, though, where the party seeking that mandate is dedicated to the removal of the province from the Canadian federation.

When Marois, now 64, returned to active politics nearly seven years ago, after many years as a minister in previous Parti Quebecois governments and two failed bids for the leadership, it was not to be a mere administrator. The girl who grew up in a big family in working-class Levis but who lives in wealth grown by her businessman husband, made the comeback to pursue her life-long dream of an independent Quebec.

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