The second week of campaigning for the Quebec election proved to be challenging for the province’s political parties. Both the Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois faced embarrassments. One of these included bewildering comments from Liberal star candidate Gertrude Bourdon, who claimed that her jump in politics would “mark history,” and in 2016 recounted that her career could be summed up with the fact that she “was almost always served positions on a silver platter.”
The Parti Quebecois also fell into some hot water due to comments made by candidate Michelle Blanc, who publicly apologized for accusing a critical blogger of being a pedophile.
However, the front-running Coalition Avenir Quebec endured a difficult week, partially as a result of auto-inflicted wounds as well as improprieties of certain candidates brought to the public light.
The Éric Caire Affair
Éric Caire, an important Member of the National Assembly for the CAQ in the region of Quebec, was found to have accepted a personal loan from the mayor of L’Ancienne-Lorette, a city located in his riding. The mayor, Émile Loranger, had offered the loan to Caire’s ex-wife, Marie-Eve Lemay, who worked as his chief of staff. The couple–who separated shortly after–needed the money to make payments on two residences, one of which was located in L’Ancienne-Lorette.
Caire reported the loan to the ethics commissioner and has since paid back Mayor Loranger. However, the apparent conflict of interest of receiving a loan from a mayor in his riding has sparked observers to criticize Caire’s judgement.
Caire has since accused the Liberal party of “dirty politics”, claiming that “goons” from the party have launched “a smear campaign” against him. Caire also admitted that his acceptance of the loan was an error.
CAQ Candidate Stéphane Le Bouyonnec Steps Down
Stephane Le Bouyonnec, president of the CAQ and candidate for the riding of La Prairie, decided to step down Tuesday through an announcement on his Facebook page.
Le Journal de Montréal reported in June that Le Bouyonnec had been the president of a board of directors for a company that offered private loans in Ontario at a rate of 90% interest, a practice banned in Quebec.
Ironically, Le Bouyonnec attacked Eric Caire in June, when the latter stated in a press conference that the company’s practices were not in line with “the values of the CAQ.”
“On the values of the CAQ, I don’t need lessons from Mr. Caire, I’m a seasoned veteran,” stated Le Bouyonnec.
An Unusual Break from Campaigning
These two events, including Legault’s noted absence at a joint press conference with Quebec’s other political parties to support supply management, have made this election week particularly difficult for the leader of the CAQ.
After refusing to go on vacation in the summer, Legault took an unusual break from campaigning on Saturday. Legault’s Liberal opponents have used the occasion to accuse him of trying to “push the reset button” on a campaign going “very badly.”