Big tent? Not yet. - Macleans.ca

Big tent? Not yet.

There has yet to be a defection to François Legault’s CAQ from the ruling Liberals

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So, the PQ lost another MNA from its caucus. No news there, really. The party started hemorrhaging members and support mere months after it gave its leader, Pauline Marois, a 93 per cent approval rating last April. You think your family is weird/backstabby/passive-aggressive? Try being a péquiste for 10 minutes.

Nor is it really news that the most recent departure, François Rebello, bolted for the Coalition Avenir Québec, the supposed big-tent coalition headed up by former péquiste François Legault. Again, others have done as much in the past few months: Daniel Ratthé and Benoît Charette. Nor is it really news that—surprise!—even though Legault and the CAQ have essentially renounced the sovereignty movement, Rebello says he’s still very much a sovereignist. “I am a sovereignist and will continue to be so in the coalition,” he told the Gazette. “I can live with my convictions and I affirm them again.” As a CAQ-friendly buddy of mine put it to me last night, when I cheekily suggested that he’d crawled into bed with a bunch of separatists, “it takes time to come off the ledge and a lifetime to admit they were wrong. Give them an election victory and in no time they will just let it lay fallow.”

What isn’t quite yet news, but probably should be, is the other side of that big tent. There has yet to be a defection from the ruling Liberals, despite piles of corruption scandals and subsequent abysmal poll numbers. (The Liberal MNA is a curious beast, and very much the flip side of its PQ brethren. While the latter can seem to shut up, the former’s perpetual silence is deafening.) The sole dyed-in-the-wool federalist to publicly peruse the CAQ’s wares has been Marlene Jennings, the longtime federal Liberal MP swept away by Jack’s Orange Wave last May. Jennings, at least, had the courage to imply what many Anglophones think: that the Quebec Liberal Party takes English people for granted. Getting her into the CAQ ranks would truly make it a coalition rather than what is, for now, the pasture of choice for disaffected separatists. Having Rebello, a right-of-centre sovereignist, and Jennings, a left-of-centre federalist, under the same roof would make a quite a tent—and the potential for a hell of an interesting circus.

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