On June 17, Quebecers decided to vote for a major change in four provincial ridings. The Action démocratique du Québec candidates received 45 per cent of the popular vote and were elected in three ridings. The Parti Quebecois was only able to keep its Lac-Saint-Jean stronghold with great difficulty, 43.5 per cent for its star candidate Stéphan Tremblay, an ex-BQ MP, to 40.8 for an unknown ADQ candidate.
In Berthier, however, Dr. David Levine, the provincial minister of health who was not elected, was unable to beat ADQ candidate Marie Grégoire who won the seat, 51 per cent to 28. Electors from Berthier voted for the candidate of the region over a Montrealer who had never been in Berthier before the election campaign. This demonstrated that the PQ arrogance no longer works. It was a terrible defeat for Premier Bernard Landry who had spent months looking for a good riding for his friend Levine who was seen as the “saviour” of the Quebec health system. Levine had to resign as health minister the day after his defeat. Premier Landry in his typical undemocratic style quickly named him president of the Montreal Health Commission without consulting the commission’s board. (Gilles Baril, ex-PQ MNA for Berthier who resigned to give his riding to Levine, was awarded a sinecure for Hydro-Quebec in Chile.)
In Vimont, the ADQ won a surprising victory, 50 per cent vs 33 per cent for the Jean Charest-led Liberal Party of Quebec and 16 per cent for PQ. This Montreal suburban riding on the island of Laval with a large Italian minority seemed to be perfect for Quebec Liberals. The defeat of the Liberals shows the weakness of their leader, who was not able to capitalize on the problems of the PQ. Since he was not able to present a real alternative to the PQ, Mario Dumont’s ADQ occupied the political vacuum.
Pierre Drouilly, a respected analyst and sociologist, showed in an article published in La Presse that the PQ would be almost totally wiped out if there were elections at the beginning of the summer. ADQ would form a government with 88 MNAs (39.4 per cent), Liberals would get 37 seats (36.1 per cent) and PQ would not have a single MNA (22.7 per cent). This is good news for Quebec. After 40 years of left-wing rigidity, it is time to open new doors. ADQ is a young party. It is the party of “Generation X” which has been alienated from politics by the dreamers of the Quiet Revolution. The leader, Mario Dumont, is 32 years old and the five ADQ MNAs are almost all under 40. You will hardly find a grey hair in their congresses.
Their ideas are also young. They are not afraid of being accused of adopting Republican Party ideas from the United States. The program of the ADQ includes the concept of vouchers for schools. That would be a great help for the Quebec Christian families which lost their rights with the abolition of Catholic and Protestant schools in 2000 with Bill 118. Daycare vouchers would also be used to compensate mothers who decide to stay at home to raise their children. The current daycare system adopted under premier Lucien Bouchard only aids parents who send their children to state-run daycare centers (it costs $5 a day). Dumont wants to respect all kinds of families, including the traditional ones. He, himself, is married with two children.
ADQ wants to find new forms for our health care system and wants to break the dogma of a completely public system. It advocates the introduction of a role for the private sector. Even the father of the Quebec health system, Claude Castonguay, admits that deep changes are necessary and the private sector will have to be involved in those changes.