Analysis | An opening speech between repetitions and new priorities | Elections Quebec 2022

Those who follow political news closely will not have noticed anything surprising or frankly new in the words of the CAQ leader. The latter took up, for the most part, messages that he had already delivered, including a very long list of objectives and goals to be achieved.

From the hour and a quarter that his speech lasted, we especially remember the new urgency with which François Legault spoke about the situation of French. Conceding to his opponents that Law 96 – adopted just before the elections – will not be enough to stop the decline of the French language, the Prime Minister let it be known that he would not stop there.

New measures will soon be announced. The government wants more numbers, more data to be able to measure the extent of the decline. From now on, it is through the defense of the language that the nationalism of the CAQ.

When it was tabled, many observers deplored that Bill 96 did not contain no truly structuring initiativecapable in itself of reversing the trend towards English.

It is in immigration, where significant changes are to be expected, that François Legault seems to have found the key measure he was missing. In a few years, Quebec will only select economic immigrants who already speak French.

This new objective, however, is likely to make waves within the CAQ cabinet. Even before his leader spoke, the Minister of the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, was already pleading for exceptions. We will soon know if the new Minister of Immigration, Christine Fréchette, will hold up against her super-counterpart.

The Quebec Minister of Immigration, Christine Fréchette, pleaded for an entirely French-speaking economic immigration.

Photo: The Canadian Press / Jacques Boissinot

An economy-environment union

If the future of French is a source of concern, the economic backwardness of Quebec compared to Ontario remains the main concern of the CAQ leader. Unsurprisingly, the Prime Minister will go full throttle on the achievement of his cardinal objective, economic growth.

After being strongly criticized for his lack of consideration for the environment, François Legault discovered a keen interest in the fight against climate change. The fact that the energy transition is now seen as a source of growth is probably not unrelated to this.

Presented as a historic opportunity, the green shift of Québec businesses will henceforth be at the heart of the government’s economic vision. It will be the same for the development of the battery sector and for theattraction of industries that can take advantage of our clean energy while growing our economy.

Speeches of relative importance

In his previous keynote, François Legault had mainly talked about health. It will have been necessary, this time, to wait for the 50e minute of his speech so that the question is addressed for the sentence. Long before his major economic goals, it is this issue that is likely to take up most of the Prime Minister’s time in the coming weeks.

The latter essentially confined himself, for the time being, to repeating the main lines of the map submitted by Christian Dubé last spring. It must be said that several of the objectives that the government had set itself then are still out of reach, such as bringing private employment agencies into line or ending compulsory overtime for nurses.

Nor should too much importance be given to the opening speeches, which are often full of beautiful projects that never see the light of day. Many promises made in the opening speech delivered by François Legault in 2018 literally could have been found in his speech on Wednesday, without us being able to identify the slightest anachronism. We only have to think of the national recovery in educationthe modernization of the justice system, the regionalization of immigration, or even the digital revolution of public services, all promised at the time.

The pandemic has certainly caused many delays. The challenge will precisely consist, over the next four years, in not getting bogged down by questions of daily stewardship in order to better keep our eyes fixed on the objectives.

François Legault got a second term, but no one knows if he will get a third. It’s now or never.

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Analysis | An opening speech between repetitions and new priorities | Elections Quebec 2022

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