On the defensive last week, François Legault went on the attack during a leaders’ debate without a bang on Radio-Canada on Thursday. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois was the target of his main criticisms, while Éric Duhaime suffered his wrath for his opposition to sanitary measures.
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The spokesperson for Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, was questioned from the outset about his tax for polluting vehicles. A Dodge Grand Caravan would be subject to a surcharge of $7,000, argued host Patrice Roy.
Jumping into the fray, François Legault accused him of living “in wonderland” with his plan to reduce GHGs by 55% by 2030. All evening, his strongest attacks were aimed at the solidarity leader .
The latter replied by accusing the outgoing Prime Minister of “misinforming” Quebeckers when he criticizes his proposals. “Stop bringing out the Halloween decorations,” he repeatedly retorted.
The spotlight then turned to the studies that François Legault refuses to make public in support of his project of 3e link between Quebec and Lévis. An update is in progress, he pleads. The CAQ leader, however, was unable to say “who is doing the study and how much it costs?”, as asked by the leader of the PCQ, Éric Duhaime.
In a press conference, afterwards, Mr. Legault clarified that the project office, accompanied by consultants, is carrying out the work.
The outgoing Prime Minister also undertook, during the section on the environment, not to allow the creation of mines to extract the minerals necessary for electric batteries in areas where the population opposes them. “When there is no social license, there will be no exploitation,” he promised.
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Fight against inflation
Topic of the hour, the fight against inflation has earned criticism from the outgoing Prime Minister, who has again been the object of heavy fire. The tax cuts promised by Mr. Legault and Dominique Anglade are “a one-way ticket to austerity”, launched PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.
Éric Duhaime also denounced the will of the caquiste to reduce payments to the Generations Fund, which is equivalent to “buying the next election by mortgaging the next generation”.
Two visions of health
The crisis in the health system has for its part made it possible to highlight the ideological gap between the parties.
The Conservative leader proposes to allow patients to be monitored privately, while being covered by the health insurance card. “A monopoly doesn’t work,” said Éric Duhaime about the current system. QS, he said, offers “healthy socialism”.
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, who relies on a 100% public system, rather argued that private health care has been amply tested “If it worked, we would know,” he hammered.
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Sparks on the Pandemic
For a rare time during the evening, the tone rose on the set when François Legault accused Éric Duhaime of having been an “agitator” and of having “benefited from the suffering” during the pandemic. “How many more seniors were you willing to sacrifice?” he asked.
“You have been irresponsible with the children of Quebec, Mr. Legault. Never forget that, ”retorted the conservative leader.
After the exchange, the scowling face of the CAQ leader left little doubt about the anger that inhabited him. The Conservative leader “disqualified” himself during the pandemic, said Mr. Legault during the press briefing following the debate.
Last Chance Debate
François Legault, however, appeared in a better mood during this final debate before the elections, he who had seemed irritated on many occasions last Thursday. The outgoing Prime Minister had also dropped the glasses he wore the last time.
Dominique Anglade, she seemed generally ignored by Mr. Legault. But the Liberal leader scored points during a segment on education, where she criticized the outgoing Prime Minister for penalizing women by failing to give a place for every child in CPEs.
The evening ended with a battle over sovereignty. Only the PLQ opposes independence, claimed Dominique Anglade. “We don’t want a referendum,” assured Mr. Legault. To which the PQ leader replied that Mr. Legault is trying to extinguish the flame of sovereignty.
On the other hand, the CAQ leader did not say whether he would vote “yes” or “no” in a possible referendum.
On Law 21 on the Wearing of Religious Symbols by State Agents in Positions of Authority
“It is a law that is not unanimous in Quebec, there are people who have been hurt by this law and we are going to keep what is good in Bill 21, ( …) but we will make sure that if a woman wants to work in a school, she can do it, even if she wears a headscarf.” – Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois
“Mr. Nadeau-Dubois you gave in to the radicals of your party because you said exactly the opposite the last time. – Francois Legault
On the 3e link
“Mr. Legault, who is doing the study and how much does this study you are talking about cost? –Eric Duhaime
“There is a study that is currently being done…” –Francois Legault
“Answer my question. Who is doing the study? –Eric Duhaime
“I don’t know exactly… how many.” – Francois Legault
On the ambitious GHG reduction targets of QS and orange taxes
(surcharge on polluting cars, factory closures and increased debt)
“I feel like it’s a bit like magic, it’s a bit like being in Wonderland, Mr. Nadeau-Dubois.” – Francois Legault
“You should put away the Halloween decorations, a little bit. Stop scaring people.” – Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois
On the need or not to build new dams
“Mr. Legault, people have a choice. Either they believe Mr. Third Link or they believe the experts. I think they will choose to believe the experts.” – Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois
“It’s magic your business!” – Francois Legault
On private health
“The presence of the private sector in the health system is increasing year after year in Quebec. That’s a 52% increase in 40 years. If the private, in health, it worked, we would know. – Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois
“If the socialist worked in terms of health, we would know (…) We have never had a system as inefficient as the one we have today. The reality is that it takes competition.” – Eric Duhaime
“There has never been so much private health care, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” – Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois
On health transfers
“There is a lack of $6 billion per year in health care in Quebec. François Legault and his winning federalism in Canada, he had promised to go get them. He asked four times and now Justin Trudeau does not even move (…) The only solution to this is the independence of Quebec.” – Paul St-Pierre-Plamondon
“Well… we will leave your choice for you (…) We will continue with the other provinces to ask for the money.” – Francois Legault
“Are we going to continue five…six times?” – Paul St-Pierre-Plamondon
“We have a lot more chance of getting there than having a referendum on sovereignty in a future mandate.” – Francois Legault
On the pandemic
“Mr. Duhaime for two years, he played the role of agitator, who took advantage of the suffering of people in Quebec who think that it is not true that there have been fewer deaths in Quebec. Frankly, it is irresponsible the way Mr. Duhaime acted. – Francois Legault
“Mr. Legault, we are talking about mental health here. And, you’re not able to admit there’s a mental health issue, you’re not able to admit it’s impacted the lockdown, you’re not able to admit that it is the children of Quebec who are suffering because of your decisions.” – Eric Duhaime
“How many more elders were you willing to sacrifice? Were you ready to sacrifice twice as many elders?” – Francois Legault
“Mr. Legault, I will not go as low as you (…) You have been irresponsible with the children of Quebec, Mr. Legault. Never forget that.” – Eric Duhaime
On the possibility of tackling the gas tax
“Ontario just lowered taxes (on gasoline) then it worked Mr. Legault, the price at the pump in Ontario is cheaper, why don’t you do that? Why don’t you give motorists a break for a bit?” – Eric Duhaime
“We prefer to give an amount of $400 to $600 then leave people free, do you mean something, freedom?” – Francois Legault
On the decline proposed by Québec solidaire in certain sectors of the economy
“Which businesses do you want to close, in which region? (…) Are you going to close paper mills?” – Francois Legault
“We are no longer in 1994. The new economy is the green economy. (…): Stop bringing out the Halloween decorations, stop scaring the world.” – Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois
On the labor shortage
“Mr. Legault, you said in 2018 – it was your slogan – we will take less of it and then we will take care of it. (…) Nothing has been done concretely to solve the problem.” – Dominique Anglade
“The solution: increase the productivity of companies, requalify those who were, for example, in the retail sector. It is not true that the only solution is immigration. You are not interested in protecting French!” – Francois Legault
Notes from our columnists
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