Why Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois believes separatism, wealth tax can fix Quebec's 'broken' political system
Quebec solidaire (QS) co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois wants a tax on the province’s wealthiest, stronger environmental protection, and a recognition of systemic racism.
Those were some of the key takeaways from his one-on-one interview with CTV News Montreal anchor Maya Johnson.
Watch the full interview in the video above
Nadeau-Dubois, who would serve as premier if his party is elected, got his start in politics during Quebec's 2012 "Maple Spring'' student movement. For many, he personified Quebec’s youth movement of that era.
Despite stating in the past that he did not want to be a politician, the young father joined QS in 2017, winning a by-election in Gouin, a seat vacated by former spokesperson Françoise David.
He has helped build the left-wing party’s profile through this year’s campaign, and as of Thursday, QC125 reported QS was projected to take second place in the popular vote.
‘A GREEN QUEBEC FOR EVERYONE'
The party has staked its territory in Quebec as a separatist option, prioritizing social programs and environmental protections.
Quebec solidaire is also in favour of an additional tax on Quebec’s wealthiest people and companies.
If elected, net assets between $1 million and $10 million would be taxed at 0.1 per cent a year, while assets worth between $10 million and $99 million would be taxed at one per cent. Anything over $100 million would be taxed at 1.5 per cent annually.
Nadeau-Dubois said such a tax is necessary to pay for improvements to the province’s services and environmental protections.
“(The funding is) going to come from the places in our society where there is a lot of money accumulated,” he said.
"Big corporations, big online corporations, for example, can do more to fund our schools, our hospitals, and the environment."
SEPARATISM KEY TO FIX ‘BROKEN’ SYSTEM
Quebec solidaire has also vowed to spend more than half a billion dollars on a constituent assembly tasked with building a constitution for an independent Quebec. The party has pledged to hold a referendum on sovereignty within its first mandate.
Of course, there have already been two separatist referendums offered to Quebecers, and recent polls suggest most Quebecers would vote "no" if a third were held tomorrow.
Facing questions on whether that money could be better spent on things like education and family health-care, Nadeau-Dubois said that if the province wants to fix problems in those areas, it should separate from Canada first.
"If we want to solve the problems of Quebec, we need to build a new political system, because our political system is broken," he said. "We need to give the power back to the people."
It would also give Quebec more power to fight climate change, he said. Perhaps more than any other party, Quebec solidaire has folded environmental protection into their campaign.
Nadeau-Dubois was asked to explain one climate-focused pledge made to increase public transit ridership: cheaper fares.
The vow comes at a time of reduced ridership due to the pandemic, and Montreal’s STM has reported a $43-million deficit.
Nadeau-Dubois said the province would "entirely" compensate public transit authorities for reduced fares, up to $500 million per year.
"We keep saying we need to take care of the planet … but in the last years, in Montreal, the price of public transit has gone up and up," he said, adding that rising fares have discouraged people from taking buses and metros.
QUEBEC NEEDS TO ‘FIGHT SYSTEMIC RACISM’
Following the first debate, Nadeau-Dubois caught heat for saying the N-word during a segment on academic freedom. During the program, Parti Québécois (PQ) Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon pressured Nadeau-Dubois to say the word, which appears in the title of a book written by Pierre Vallières.
Vallières, a Quebec journalist and writer, is renowned as an intellectual leader of the Front de libération du Québec, who wrote a book titled N----- blancs d'Amérique (White n------ of America).
"Are you capable of stating the title of this book?" asked the PQ leader. "Of course," Nadeau-Dubois answered, stating the book's full title.
CTV asked him to reflect on that moment.
"It was not a good situation for me," he said. "I found that particular strategy from Paul St-Pierre Plamondon very disturbing, very weird."
"He wanted for the debate to derail on that issue,” added Dubois. “I had a very difficult choice to make."
"Do you regret the choice?" pressed CTV anchor Maya Johnson. "You say it was a difficult choice, you had to make a choice on the spot, and you opted to say the word," she added. "Would it have been politically more dangerous for you in the current context to not say the word, than to just say it out loud?"
"I don’t want to rewrite history," he responded, "but I found the strategy of Mr. Plamondon, to push that word on and on … on the air, a very questionable choice."
"I decided to take my time to talk about systemic racism in Quebec," he continued.
"I chose to take my time to talk about what we need to do to fight systemic racism."
Quebec solidaire has repeatedly called on Incumbent Quebec Premier François Legault to recognize the existence of systemic racism in the province, both during the debate and on the campaign trail.
The issue was again brought to the forefront of Quebec political discussion during a public spat between the Legault and Indigenous chiefs of Joyce Echaquan’s home nation.
Echaquan, a 37-year-old mother of seven, filmed herself on Facebook Live as a nurse and an orderly made derogatory comments toward her shortly before her death at a hospital northeast of Montreal in 2020.
A coroner’s report found systemic racism played a part in her death, but Legault still refuses to say that kind of racism exists in Quebec.
He more recently said that the problems at the Joliette Hospital, where Echaquan died, were "fixed," but later apologized following public outcry.
During that exchange, Nadeau-Dubois called the CAQ leader's comments "ridiculous."
"The reality of systemic racism towards Indigenous people in Quebec, it still exists," he said on Saturday. "There are steps that have been taken in the right direction in Joliette, everyone recognizes that. But to say, 'it's fixed,' it's a lack of sensitivity, a lack of compassion."
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