“It’s a bit like being in wonderland,” François Legault told Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois on Thursday evening, during the last leaders’ debate presented by Radio-Canada.
It was about the subject of the Environment. The host had asked the candidates what they intended to do to fight against global warming.
After laying out his solution – electrifying Quebec industries with new dams – François Legault quickly went on the offensive against Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. He criticized the solidarity measure seeking the establishment of a 15% tax for vehicles that emit 210 grams or more of CO2 per km.
And the united leader to reply: “Stop scaring people. You should inspire Quebecers and propose solutions.”
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois also accused him of spreading false information on the QS electoral platform. The left-wing party spokesman urged him to “put away the Halloween decorations” and stop trying to instill fear in him.
Very quickly, we observed the outgoing Prime Minister scowling behind his desk, as he had done during the face-to-face on TVA Nouvelles. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, for his part, tried to dodge the attacks on his tax policy. At each mention of “orange taxes”, the solidarity prided itself on being “sincere” and “transparent” with Quebecers.
Clear differences in their programs
If a verbal jousting took place on several occasions between the two leaders, it was often at the initiative of François Legault. The latter again attacked his solidarity rival at the bend of questions on the economy. He notably accused him of wanting to close businesses, and asked him how many he intended to close.
“We are no longer in 1994. The new economy is the green economy. […] Stop scaring the world, ”replied Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois to him, without answering the question. The QS spokesperson argued that the fight against greenhouse gases must go through a redesigned economy.
Once again, on the subject of health, it was the head of the CAQ who returned to the charge. While Mr. Nadeau-Dubois criticized the PCQ’s desire to open up this sector more widely to the private sector, François Legault told him: “the tens of thousands of people who had private surgery during the pandemic, free of charge, that do you tell them?” Finally, the solidarity spokesperson admitted to agreeing with a “temporary and limited recourse to the private sector” in an exceptional setting.
Despite repeated attacks from his other adversaries, the outgoing prime minister’s offensives were focused on Québec solidaire. If Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois did not hesitate to launch a few scathing attacks either, he had not suffered as much from the chief caquiste during the face-to-face on TVA, last week.
Anglade no longer present
It is a more assertive Dominique Anglade than Quebecers could see during the leaders’ debate on Thursday evening, compared to the first leaders’ debate on TVA. Moreover, on the social network Twitter, ten minutes before the debate, the leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) published a video showing her dancing. This is what set the tone of the evening for her.
The format put in place by Radio-Canada has enabled all party leaders to better communicate their ideas. Anglade took the opportunity to adopt a more personal tone and look directly at the camera. Upon her arrival at the Radio-Canada office, the leader of the PLQ said she was eager to debate, “especially with François Legault”, and that is what she did. While she was more conciliatory with the other candidates, she did not fail to confront the outgoing Prime Minister on many occasions, particularly on the place of women in Quebec. Ms Anglade mentioned the conditions of female health workers, “going out into the streets”.
“It was the same when you were in power,” retorted Mr. Legault later. The leader of the PLQ insisted on the fact that she did not want to “divide Quebecers”, unlike the outgoing Prime Minister, in his words.
Several commentators and Internet users on social networks praised the presence of Paul Saint Pierre Plamondon during the debate. According to them, the leader of the PQ stood out from the other candidates for his calm.
The PQ leader’s strategy was clear: while using a policy of cordiality with the other leaders, he wanted to clearly express his ideas and bet on a soothing tone. For some, without his obsession with the subject of independence, Mr. Plamondon could get more votes in these elections.
Duhaime equal to himself
Francois Legault did not reserve all his arrows for Nadeau-Dubois. He also took advantage of the leaders’ debate to stir up Éric Duhaime. The outgoing Prime Minister accused the leader of the Conservative Party of being “agitator” and of having “benefited from the suffering” of the most vulnerable Quebecers to boost his political movement during the pandemic.
“You have been irresponsible with the children of Quebec, Mr. Legault. Never forget that, ”retorted the leader of the PCQ during a debate on mental health.
With the collaboration of Yann Nopieyie