Quebec Conservative platform heavy on tax cuts, healthcare -- but leaves several issues out
Published Sunday, August 14, 2022 6:13PM EDT Last Updated Sunday, August 14, 2022 7:24PM EDT
Voters interested in the Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ) may be disappointed by its platform, announced Sunday in Drummondville, as it is silent on many issues and vague on many others.
Not a word on the party's immigration commitments. Not a word on the promotion of the French language. Complete silence on culture. Nothing on agriculture, Quebec-Ottawa relations, access to justice, minority and Indigenous rights, the fight against domestic violence, or services for children in youth protection.
"We chose to make a platform based on the five themes we intend to hammer during the election campaign," explained party leader Eric Duhaime in a press scrum. He said the other issues are addressed under the "programme" tab on the party's website.
The PCQ's platform contains about sixty pages focusing on a few issues: health, the economy, childcare, tax cuts, transportation and the environment. Some of the commitments were already known to the public.
A fierce defender of individual freedoms, Éric Duhaime wants first and foremost to "give back more freedom" to Quebec citizens, under the slogan "Libres chez nous" and his platform entitled "Liberté 22."
The platform was presented to a hundred candidates in a community center who received pre-election training on Saturday.
On the issue of climate change, the party remained vague. It said it wants to focus on "realistic" ambitions and has not set any targets for reducing greenhouse gases.
Duhaime justified this decision by explaining that governments have "continually" missed these targets in the past.
He also reaffirmed his opposition to Bill 96 on the French language, calling himself a "nationalist." But there is "no question of us touching fundamental freedoms," he said.
On the issue of transportation, the party focused its commitments on Quebec City only, without mention of Montreal and the rest of Quebec.
It reaffirmed its opposition to the tramway project, promising free bus transportation in the capital. The Conservatives are in favour of the construction of a third link, but against the government's plan for a Quebec-Lévis tunnel. The PCQ would rather see a bridge in the east, near Île d'Orléans.
In the realm of health, the word to remember is: competition. The contribution of the private sector would be central. The party would change the way hospitals are financed: some would be managed directly by private companies, and doctors would be encouraged to engage in mixed practice. Private supplementary insurance would be available for health care services already covered by Medicare. The party also intends to train more physicians.
For child care services, the party is advocating a gradual withdrawal from the financing of the network, relying instead on direct assistance to parents through a voucher of $200 per week, per child. Here again, the PCQ wants to encourage competition, including in service costs, with the deregulation of the $8.70 daily rate. The party did not set a target for the creation of additional daycare spaces, even though the waiting list contains 52,000 names.
"We believe the market will solve the problem," Duhaime said.
On the tax front, the PCQ is banking on reducing the taxpayer burden, with a promise of a $2,000 tax cut for those with an annual income of $80,000, for example. It also wants to suspend gasoline taxes and abolish the tax on used goods, and progressively reduce the payroll tax.
Additionally, a Quebec Conservative government would want to better exploit natural resources and would greenlight the LNG-Québec project.
In his speech, Duhaime said his party has grown exponentially in a short period of time, from 500 members to 60,000.
Duhaime also had a message for Quebec's anglophones: they are not hostages of the Quebec Liberal Party (QLP).
This report was first published in French by The Canadian Press on Aug. 14, 2022.