Quebec Liberal Party redefining itself, will focus on environment in October election

Only two months after Jandre-Allard Pelletier was elected premier in Quebec, speculation has surfaced that federal leaders might visit the province in the coming months

Quebec Liberal Party redefining itself, will focus on environment in October election

Renewed expectations on how the federal Liberals might approach the coming federal election came as new revelations emerged that the Quebec Liberal Party is also focused on protecting the environment.

Minister Jérôme Duclos, son of the man who last fall led Quebec’s last Liberal government, outlined the new party’s priorities and said it would focus on its vision of “affordable and inclusive development”, issues Trudeau’s federal Liberals would also address.

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In a gathering of the Liberal party that saw growing numbers of grassroots activists, Duclos said the party would not repeat the mistakes of other parties. “We will not have enormous budgets, we will not have hidden memberships. We will not have thousands of days in each riding that can only be spent generating negative advertising,” he said.

This could be a shot across the bow of the federal Liberals who are well ahead in the polls, and holding numerous cabinet portfolios, with plans to appoint a 25-member advisory council on Quebec.

The Liberal motion does not directly refer to the federal government, but its emphasis of the environment and prosperity is unlikely to go unmentioned during federal Liberal leadership debates later this year.

Pierre Moreau, a political scientist at Université Laval, said: “They’re throwing red meat to Liberals who want change, no more the Liberals of 1993. It’s a message to say ‘we did it, we did Quebec, we’re different’.”

Duclos said he wanted to give support to the private sector, but to put in place the protection of water and the environment. He also said the Liberals will not put forward a realistic austerity budget and will not abolish the Canada Pension Plan, even if the reforms other provinces have voted down.

Quebec Liberal Party members gathered in Montréal, Canada, on Thursday. Photograph: Mathieu Belanger/Reuters

The Quebec Liberals have positioned themselves well away from federal Liberals, who are currently racked by internal divisions over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, and the Conservative party, who are divided by the proposal to legalize cannabis.

Mais le Québec maintenant ! Pierre Moreau

Many expected the New Democratic party to form government in Quebec last fall, but instead they led in the polls in the lead up to the provincial election, despite general doubts about the fledgling party, which despite being first elected in 2012 has yet to win an election.

The provincial Liberals brought in Pelletier and introduced him as the next premier last September, just three days after Trudeau spoke at the opening of the Quebec legislature in Quebec City. Trudeau spoke with great fondness of Pelletier in his remarks, and later that day his cabinet travelled to Quebec to announce that Trudeau would hold an event in the province.

It is not clear what role Pelletier might play in any federal government, but in October Trudeau told the media he would offer the support of the federal cabinet in the Quebec premier’s abilities to raise more revenues for his province.

With just two months left until the federal election, Duclos said he plans to begin the party’s electoral strategy in April.

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