The new NDP-Québec is about to select a leader

Photo: NPDQ
Aspiring chefs Raphaël Fortin, 37, and Raymond Côté, 50 years

Few have seen it pass this fall, but the all-new NDP-Québec held its first leadership campaign. The New democratic Party of Quebec, created a few years ago, is preparing to choose its leader on January 21. And it has to be part of the next provincial election campaign. The political spectrum is already loaded is not frightened. The electorate is hungry for a progressive party who is not a sovereignist, insist its members.


Officially registered with the Director general of elections of Quebec in 2014, the NPDQ brings together about 600 members, according to its interim leader Pierre Ducasse — a former close adviser to Jack Layton. But there are many Quebec progressives and federalists, in his opinion, and they do not have a family policy. “There are people who are left and centre-left and who are not necessarily sovereignists. And they are orphans, ” said Mr. Ducasse.


This part of the electorate is even more isolated, according to him, the training progressive of the province, Québec solidaire, has taken up the challenge to unite the party resolutely sovereigntist Option nationale. “Québec solidaire is painting in a corner, hardening its position on the sovereignty, argues Pierre Ducasse. It is their decision, it is theirs. But there are some people who do not recognise in there. “


Others, such as the one of the two candidates for the chieftainship of the NPDQ, Raphael Fortin, believe that QS is “too far left” by promoting the “nationalization” of many things “. “There is a place on the political spectrum for a party of pragmatic left that does not want the independence of Quebec, which he reports to Duty. Me, I believe in a pragmatic left, which is able to bring his proposals and adopted by a majority of the population. “


The former mp néodémocrate federal Raymond Côté is the second candidate in the leadership race, which started on the 1st of September last. After his electoral defeat in 2015, Mr. smith was asked what he was becoming. He explained to his constituents that he participated, with other former federal NDP, an NDP in quebec. The response was often positive, he said. “If it was limited to two or three people, there would be no phenomenon. But when dozens of people come in with the same reflection, my experience and my instinct told me that there is not even a gap on the provincial scene. And the NPDQ can fill this emptiness, ” says Mr. Côté.


Yet a new party ?


The former strategist néodémocrate Karl Bélanger agrees that there is a “window theoretical” support for an NDP in quebec. Québec solidaire can be treasured by the progressive federalists, while the liberal Party does not necessarily progressive politics to the federalists who don’t want to vote for a QS sovereignist. “Is it that voters are willing to give up what are currently these vehicles to spare, to go to a NDP-Québec ? It remains to be seen, he warns however. But the theory is solid. “


The fact remains that the voters do not vote always in a theoretical way, admits Karl Bélanger. To convince and hope to pierce it, it will all the more make themselves known. “It is quite a challenge,” says this strategist of long standing, since the two aspiring leaders are not known to the public. Raymond Côté, 50 years old, has been a federal mp for Beauport-Limoilou time of a single term, while Raphael Fortin, 37 years, is presented without success to three federal elections.

Is it that voters are ready to give up [Québec solidaire and the liberal Party] to go to a NDP-Québec ? It remains to be seen. But the theory is solid.
Karl Bélanger

The electoral system first-past-the-round encourages in addition not necessarily the electorate to give a chance to small parties, because the voter prefers to often vote strategically to block the road with a band that he likes less. “It makes the emergence of new parties difficult. But it’s not impossible “, said Mr. Bélanger, recalling, optimistically, that the Parti québécois has managed to form the government eight years after its creation.


Pierre Ducasse is not made of illusions. “Is it going to be easy ? Nobody thinks it is. “In particular, because the NPDQ not be able to finance his first election campaign with his gifts, since it will not be collected the allowance paid to political parties for each vote received. Dated as of December 20, the NPDQ was collected 4260 $ for the year 2017, the share of the 128 donors. The year before, 100 donors had paid 4500 $, compared to 14 grants for a total of 870 $ in 2015. The party would have 30 000 $ in the bank, according to Mr. Ducasse.


Although he says that the electorate of the NPDQ exists in Quebec, Pierre Ducasse does not predict to the extent that his training will be to elect a member of parliament in 2018. “I think it is a long-term project,” he admits. But in politics, everything is possible. “


The challenge will be to size, predicted Karl Bélanger, recalling that the NPDQ came seventh in the election of Louis-Hébert on 2 October.


Pierre Ducasse believes that he could gather support where the party activists have set up regional organisations : in the west and the south-west of Montreal, the Outaouais, Montérégie and in the region of Québec, according to him.


Away from the orange wave


When the idea of a rebirth of a NDP in quebec is made to circulate, it was in the aftermath of the victory-surprise of Jack Layton in 2011, when the federal NDP has been propelled to the rank of official opposition in Ottawa. The orange wave had just swept through Quebec. Six years later, the federal NDP is no longer the same wind in the sails. He drags instead of the paw in the polls, and its new leader, Jagmeet Singh, did not have a honeymoon for the moment.


“It is sure that the current context is unfavourable. It is true that the federal NDP in tears, ” observes Raymond Side. But the party has, however, according to him of a ” brand image already known “. “We are capable of doing a lot better than a party that would be started from scratch, without an identity. It is an advantage that he will have to operate. But it will have to roll up the sleeves. “And explain to the voters that the pq is not equivalent to the federal, but a separate entity, says Raphael Fortin. “It will be up to us to make our individual mark. “


The arrival of a NDP quebec was in any way ” inevitable “, according to Karl Bélanger, who heard him speak since its first congress in new democrats on his arrival at the party 20 years ago. The NDP in quebec has disappeared from the political landscape in the 1990s, when it became the Party of socialist democracy.


Raymond Côté proposes a minimum wage of $ 17 per hour ; improving benefits from the Régie des rentes du Québec ; making doctors employees of the State, paid by the hour rather than the act, and bring them back in the CLSC to make it a gateway to the health system ; and create a Crown corporation for the fight against climate change, which would promote the energy transition by investing in green energy or providing affordable options to reduce energy consumption.


Raphael Fortin proposes a minimum wage of $ 15 per hour, but in a first time, a guaranteed basic income non-taxed $ 18,000 ; post-secondary education free of charge and the gradual end of subsidies to private schools ; and that doctors should be employees ; or a reform of the voting system — but he has not made his choice of system to use ; and it would impose the party line the policy of its election platform or to the budget issues.