A merger between two of Quebec's dark horse political parties was given a ringing endorsement from the larger of the pair, but final approval won't be given until next week.
Over 80 per cent of delegates at Quebec Solidaire's convention in Longueuil cast ballots in favour of merging with Option Nationale. The latter party still needs to formally approve the coupling with a vote at their own convention next weekend.
Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois called the result "a beautiful day for Quebec."
"We have to go past the simple mathematics of the polls. Our merger is not only a way to do mathematics with electoral statistics and adding voters to voters. It's a symbolic message and that message is strong," he said. "The party that is able to regroup the forces of change in Quebec is Quebec Solidaire."
QS currently holds three seats in the National Assembly. Option Nationale holds none.
"I'm really amazed and positively surprised," said QS MNA Amir Khadir. "I understand a lot of people from the English-left, those who want a progressive society but aren't spontaneously in favour of independence or sovereignty of Quebec have questions about the move we're making. I want to remind them Quebec Solidaire is open to working on a social progressive project of society" and discussions regarding sovereignty can be held at a later time.
Discussions over the potential merger with Sol Zanetti’s party concluded in October. Nadeau-Dubois was among the architects of the deal.
He called the deal “good for the left and the independence movement.”
Both the ruling Liberals and Coalition Avenir Quebec have spent the past few weeks courting Anglophone voters. The Liberals announced the formation of a secretariat charged with overseeing issues pertaining to English-speaking Quebecers while CAQ leader Francois Legault spent a portion of his speech at the party's convention appealing to Anglos to turn away from the Liberals.
Khadir didn't go to the same lengths but said the party will also actively court Anglos.
"I would like to have better qualities and capacities to reach out with our very few resources at the time being," he said. "We would like to build mutual understanding, respect and adhesion to a common ground of work."
The vote comes in the wake of recent polls showing CAQ with a slight lead over the Liberals in provincial popularity. Those polls also have the Parti Quebecois lagging in a distant third.
"They were well ahead in the Quebec City aread in the 418, they are well ahead everywhere except Montreal," explained Ian Macdonald, editor of Policy Magazine. "They're certainly well positioned at this point to win a minority government."
Zanetti said the PQ is a victim of a platform that put more focus on social issues than sovereignty.
"For us, the important thing is to be able to gather all the people in favour of independence in Quebec, which is 30, 35, sometimes 40 per cent of the people and then convince a lot more and then being elected with that program," he said. "I think when for several decades you take your social project and put it aside, it has bad effects with the trust people have in you."
However, Nadeau-Dubois said sovereignty will remain one among many planks of the party going forward.
"Some people are in Quebec Solidaire first because it's a feminist party. Some people are in Quebec Solidaire first because it's a green party," he said. "Everyone has their... own set of priorities. But as a whole, our party is a coalition in which all principles are equal and to be understood in relation with the other principles."