Editorial: Vote Him Out
Over François Legault’s first term as premier, Quebec’s atmosphere has taken a dramatically rightward shift, creating an inhospitable environment for a wide array of marginalized communities.
The premier’s rhetoric, combined with his actions, have proven time and time again that this province, under his government, is an unsafe place for those who do not fit the mould of a so-called real Quebecer.
The Coalition Avenir Québec’s half-decade of harmful actions towards immigrants, religious minorities, Indigenous people, unhoused people, allophones and women has dealt a devastating blow to any crumbs of social progress which existed in a pre-CAQ Quebec.
Through his legislative agenda and rhetorical style, Legault has repeatedly singled out members of vulnerable communities with one strong, grotesque underlying message: you are not welcome here. His list of failures is too long to enumerate, but he has created unspeakable damage to Quebec’s social fabric.
In 2019, protesters poured into the streets as Legault signed Bill 21 into law, an act which barred public servants from wearing religious symbols. That same year, he introduced a Quebec values test for all new immigrants. His messaging has been consistently anti-immigration, demonizing immigrant communities of colour the hardest.
His hostility towards these communities has been a prominent feature of his first term while continuously denying the existence of systemic racism in the province. In 2021, when an Atikamekw woman, Joyce Echaquan, died because of systemic racism in the healthcare system, Legault failed to take concrete action.
The premier’s neglect of the provincial healthcare system has been one of his largest failures since taking office. Nearly 16,000 Quebecers have died of COVID-19. Quebec has Canada’s highest rate of COVID-19 casualties by province, largely due to poor policy decisions surrounding long-term care facilities and contradictory health measures.
While trying to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in January 2021, Legault imposed curfews that made it illegal for unhoused people to be outdoors past 8 p.m.. He has repeatedly ignored the voices of marginalized people, only intensifying their hardships.
According to the Collins English Dictionary, stochastic terrorism is defined as “the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted.” Beyond a shadow of a doubt, François Legault meets these criteria.
But how does King Frank feel about his chances of victory this election cycle? Untouchable. The CAQ is still polling at sky-high numbers, shielding him from any criticism of his actions over the past four years.
Legault’s “L’État, c’est moi” attitude is wholly undemocratic, and is weakening Quebecers’ faith in a better tomorrow. This election has become a three-way race for second place, and morale has hit rock-bottom.
Hope, however, is not lost. Comparatively progressive parties challenging Legault’s grip on power have been increasing their chances of forming a concrete opposition.
None of this is possible if we don’t vote. Making our voices heard is one of the only tools we have against an increasingly despotic premier who could not care less about people who are different than him.
Take the time to look up your candidates, familiarize yourself with the major parties’ positions and vote strategically. Every vote purposefully uncast is a vote for the status quo. On Oct. 3, cast your ballots in droves.
This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 3, published September 27, 2022.