Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday October 5, 2022
Legault’s tense relationship with Ottawa likely to now continue
Francois Legault’s re-election in Quebec Monday night means an already frosty relationship between his government and Ottawa will likely continue, experts say.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Legault after the Quebec premier’s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) was projected to form a second majority government, vowing to work together moving forward. But court challenges and a looming fight over immigration are bound to test that promise.
“I don’t think that these tensions will ease as long as the Liberals remain in power in Ottawa and Legault and the CAQ remain in power in Quebec City,” said Daniel Beland, a political science professor at McGill University.
“There are simply fundamental differences between them in the way they see the federation.”
Legault’s first term saw his nationalist agenda clash with Trudeau’s Liberal government a number of times — most notably when the prime minister and members of his cabinet openly criticized Quebec’s secularism law, known as Bill 21, and Bill 96, which bolsters protections for the French language.
Both bills are currently before the courts in Quebec, and Ottawa has promised to join a legal challenge to Bill 21 if it reaches the Supreme Court of Canada.
Legault has also been one of the most vocal premiers calling on Trudeau to increase federal funding for health care, which has been met with resistance by the Liberals. Legault has gone further by insisting that any health transfer top-up must also respect Quebec’s ability to govern its own health-care system without federal interference.
Now that Legault is set to be premier through the rest of Trudeau’s current mandate, more fights are expected in the years ahead.
Most crucially, Legault has caught attention with his push for further immigration powers over family reunification — a responsibility currently shared between the provincial and federal governments — in order to limit non-French-speaking migration into Quebec.
Last spring, when Legault promised to make the dispute a campaign issue, Trudeau said he had no intention of relinquishing any of those powers.
“It’s clear that a country must have a say in its immigration,” he told reporters then, assuring the protection of French and francophone immigration was “very important” to his government.
According to Daniel Beland, a political science professor at McGill University, Legault could also cause headaches for the federal Liberals by continuing to align with other right-leaning premiers across the country like Ontario Premier Doug Ford on not just immigration, but also health-care funding and economic issues.
Ford was quick to congratulate “my friend” Legault on his election win Monday night on Twitter. Fellow right-leaning premiers Scott Moe of Saskatchewan and Heather Stefanson of Manitoba also celebrated Legault’s victory.
Although Trudeau and his government have pushed back on some of Legault’s more nationalistic moves, Beland adds the Liberals have to be careful about not starting an intergovernmental war with the strongly-supported premier of a vote-rich province.
“So long as Legault remains popular, there will be a strong incentive for Trudeau and the Liberals to … meet in the middle and remain diplomatic on some issues,” he said. (Global News)
From sketch to finish, see the current way Graeme completes an editorial cartoon using an iPencil, the Procreate app, and a couple of cheats on an iPad Pro …