There were many highlights of the trip to Parliament Hill and Quebec City’s National Assembly. One very general idea that I would like to highlight is the political leanings of Quebec’s dominant parties. Currently, the PLQ (Liberals) make up the government and the Partie Quebecois are the opposition. Apparently, parties have virtually identical goals for where they want Quebec to be socially and economically. According to every scholar, journalist, and politician with whom we met, the only key difference between the two parties is their stance on sovereignty. Whereas the PQ is staunch separatists, the Liberals under Premier Jean Charest are federalists. This dynamic is very interesting and different from Ontario, and results in 80% of bills being passed unanimously.
Another highlight of the trip was meeting Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, John Baird. He truly lived up to his reputation as a bulldog and an effective arguer. This was evidenced by one of our group asking him some very tough questions about his Green policy while he was Minister of the Environment. He vehemently argued against the allegations that have been laid against him by his critics, and went on to openly advocate limited Climate Change policy, expressing clearly that he believed the economy should be the priority. He went on to deny that any other Canadian leaders – and even leaders abroad – have taken significant steps to reduce emissions and shift focus to sustainable energy. Overall it was an extremely interesting meeting.