PQ tables bill to fix elections every four years
Published Wednesday, November 7, 2012 12:46PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 7, 2012 10:11PM EST
MONTREAL—The Parti Quebecois wants to introduce fixed dates for provincial elections.
On Wednesday, the Minister Responsible for Democratic Insitutitions tabled Bill 3 in the National Assembly. Bernard Drainville called the current electoral system too partisan and not in the public interest.
“The date of the election should not belong to the government,” said Drainville, a former Radio-Canada reporter. “The date of the election should be shared by everyone and should be known in advance.”
Under the bill, Quebec’s elections would be fixed on the last Monday of September. A heavy-hitter in the PQ caucus, Drainville claimed the public is demanding fixed election dates, free of strategic election calls.
The current PQ government was elected in early September during an election call by then-Premier Jean Charest that was seen as highly strategic: falling at the end of the summer vacation, but days before damning testimony would flow at the province’s anti-corruption inquiry.
While the opposition Quebec Solidaire and Coalition Avenir Quebec support the law, the CAQ’s leader has one serious problem with how Bill 3 is written: Pauline Marois’ PQ would be kept in power until at least Sept. 26, 2016.
“Right now, with the minority government we have, people are already unhappy, so I don’t see how we can suffer that for four years,” said Francois Legault, the leader of the province’s second opposition.
While Quebec has already experimented with fixed elections at the municipal level, Liberal leader Jean-Marc Fournier pointed at the advantages of the current parliamentary flexibility.
“The government can ask to consult, to go to citizens to have a mandate from them. And sometimes a mandate can be something like in 1962 when Rene Levesque asked for a mandate for the nationalisation of Hydro Quebec. Is somebody saying that was a bad idea? No, so let's also take that into consideration,” said Fournier.
A similar law has been on the books for federal elections since 2006, but no federal government has lasted four years since that law was passed.
Under current law in Quebec, the premier asks the lieutenant-governor to dissolve the National Assembly and call a new election whenever the premier sees fit. Bill 3 proposes that the next election take place on Sept. 26, 2016, but even then, that is dependent on the minority government surviving several confidence motions before that time.
The premier could also go the lieutenant-governor before the four years elapses.
Later this month the PQ will introduce a budget, the second confidence motion that the government will face.
Parti Quebecois MLA Bernard Drainville walks out of a caucus meeting Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at the legislature in Quebec City. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot)