Parties of Independent Candidates

There is a “love hate” relationship with policital parties. There are many who “hate” the fact that party MPs  or MPPs are loyal to the parties and not to their  consituents.  On the other  hand, there are many who  see Independent Candidates has having a harder time winning elections.

We are now  seeing “parties of independent candidates”. For example, in Ontario, in the October 2011 election, Onarians were introduced to the Canadians Choice Party – a party of Independent Candidates.  In Quebec,  the CAQ is  a  party (at least according to the following article) formed largely  from Independent Candidates.

See the following article:–a-powerful-new-party-rises-in-quebec

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Andrew Chung Quebec Bureau

MONTREAL—No one will say it now, but people like Benoit Charette could be one of the first faces of a movement that is turning Quebec politics on its head.

In June, he dumped the Parti Québécois, for which he acted as the immigration critic and is sitting as an independent for the riding of Deux Montagnes, northwest of Montreal. But over the summer, he said, he found himself more and more captivated by the new Coalition pour l’avenir du Québec.

“I find it interesting, and I think many Quebecers are on the same page,” Charette said. “For the first time in 40 years we are proposing to bring people together on a base different from the national question. It’s refreshing.”

Come the next legislative session early in 2012, he and a handful of other independents and members of the rightist party Action démocratique du Québec, could become members of the CAQ.

On Monday, the new party will officially join the restless Quebec political landscape, but unlike most start-ups, this one stands a good chance at winning power.

Polls say if an election were held today, François Legault’s new party would win. Support for his coalition at 39 per cent, the Liberals at 22 per cent, the PQ at 17 per cent and the ADQ at 11 per cent.

Led by a former ardent sovereignist within the PQ, the coalition believes strongly that Quebec has big problems with its economy, debt, health and education systems that must be tackled before the old federalism-sovereignty debate.

Legault’s remarkable polling numbers — coming before his party is even formally launched — comes from a general appetite for his ideas, to put off any referendum and focus on the economy, for instance, but also from the current upheaval in provincial politics.

The Liberals are dogged by corruption allegations and a premier who appears out of touch. The PQ faces internal squabbling, backstabbing and resignations, fuelled by an inability of leader Pauline Marois to capitalize on the Liberals’ problems.

“People have the impression that nothing is going on in Quebec and they want to see change,” said Legault’s spokesperson, Jean-François Del Torchio. “What Mr. Legault is proposing is positive change.”

Legault was not doing interviews before the Monday launch, but he is sufficiently a threat to Premier Jean Charest and Marois that both are both questioning his motives and leadership.

Recalling that Legault has called himself a “leftist sovereignist,” Charest said earlier this week that “the people know what they’re getting with a Liberal government, not with a party led by a former péquiste minister who has put aside sovereignty.”

The sovereignty issue has been a touchy one. Legault says he’s been a sovereignist his whole life, and used to be the PQ’s most vocal pusher of independence.

But since leaving the party and founding the coalition he has managed to attract prominent federalists, including his coalition founding partner Charles Sirois. Del Torchio, for instance, worked with three federal Liberal leaders, including most recently, Michael Ignatieff.

“What he’s saying,” Del Torchio explained, “is that he’s not going to promote sovereignty. Nobody wants to hear about it anymore. Quebecers want to see the real challenges tackled.”

Legault, 54, is married with two teenaged children. His wife, Isabelle Brais, runs a high-end clothing store in Montreal’s trendy Plateau neighbourhood. He grew up in a household of modest income, his father a postmaster, his mother a homemaker.

But he became a successful businessman, co-founding Air Transat, before turning to politics. Within the PQ government in the 1990s, he headed several ministries, including education and health. As a critic, he dealt with finance.

For Charette, the party might be ideal; he left the PQ precisely because Marois wasn’t promising hold off on a referendum. Sovereignty, for him, remains an ideal but is the “dream of a young man.” He’d prefer to work on pressing issues until such time as the debate is viable again.

For Marc Picard, another independent legislator and former member of the ADQ, the coalition fits his style for ideological reasons. It has a centre-right orientation. “The coalition wants to tell the truth to the citizens,” Picard says, “and it has the courage to . . . deal with things that have never been dealt with, like the debt.”

Legault’s team is preparing an “action plan” to present Monday. He’s proposing to cut thousands of government jobs, do away with school boards and mid-level heath agencies, raise teachers’ and doctors’ salaries, use resource royalties to pay down the debt, and finally make Quebec a “have” province.

Whether from genuine support of his ideas or traditional party malaise, polls indicate Legault would win the premier’s seat.

The figure of 39 per cent support for the coalition, reported in the CROP poll of 1,000 Quebecers in late October, would translate into a landslide 102 of the province’s 125 seats, according to the website

And if the coalition and the ADQ merge — a real possibility — the party would get a whopping 48 per cent of the vote, something a CROP executive called “surreal.”

These numbers spell catastrophe for Marois.

Despite record support at the party’s congress last April, she has had to deal with a kind of ongoing mutiny. Last spring, five prominent members quit the caucus. In late October several caucus members, fearing Bloc Québécois -style obliteration, were said to urge her to pass the torch. There have been resignations in local riding associations. One Laval association sent a letter to her last week asking her to go.

But following Monday’s party launch, Charest and Marois will have their work cut out for them. So, too, will Legault.

The honeymoon period will come to an end. Legault, however, has committed to give 10 years more of public service.

It could be a long romance.