Quebec's three major parties - the Liberals, Parti Québécois and Coalition Avenir Québec - are running ads that have decidedly different messages than what leaders are saying at campaign stops
Quebec Liberal Party
The message: Philippe Couillard says that Quebeckers are fed up with the Marois government and its habit of “making up problems in order to mask reality.” In four separate ads, Mr. Couillard states that his party has concrete solutions to create 250,000 jobs, cut red tape, improve daycare services and create new medical clinics that are open seven days a week.
The tagline: “Choose my team, so that together, we’ll take care of the real issues.”
What it says about Mr. Couillard: Surrounded by 13 Liberal MPs and candidates, the rookie leader obviously feels the need to reassure Quebeckers that his party is ready to govern. Mr. Couillard is a former minister of health and respected surgeon, but he also wants to connect with the electorate, stating he has “gone from region to region to listen to Quebeckers.”
Contrast with the campaign: The ads are focused on key platform issues: creating jobs and improving the province’s education and health-care systems. On the ground, however, the Liberal Party is hammering its anti-referendum message at every opportunity, with Mr. Couillard repeatedly warning Quebeckers about the potential negative consequences of the sovereigntist agenda of the Parti Québécois.
Coalition Avenir Québec
The message: The party’s three ads start off with voters speaking directly to François Legault, encouraging the opposition leader to persevere in what he has said is “the fight of his life.” The voters discuss Mr. Legault’s willingness to take on big challenges and come up with new ideas to put the province back on track.
The tagline: “I think it’s possible.”
What it says about Mr. Legault: By appearing only at the end of the ads, and with a short message, Mr. Legault is trying to make it clear that he wants to make tough decisions on behalf of Quebeckers. He is openly acknowledging that he is the underdog in this campaign, but that he is willing to work hard in his second election – and potentially his last – as leader.
Contrast with the campaign: The ads are glitzy, fast-paced and showcase three hip-looking voters. However, the CAQ is running the lowest-key campaign of the three major parties, and Mr. Legault has been derided for some of his photo ops, including an event at a toy factory where he sat awkwardly in a toy truck. In addition, Mr. Legault is at the heart of his party’s campaign strategy, but he is only playing a minor role in the television ads.
The message: In a single ad, Pauline Marois is walking briskly in a corridor, stating in a voice-over that she is “determined” to keep a tight check on spending, support the private sector and create jobs, and allow Quebeckers to “act as a people.”
The tagline: “My team and I are determined to do everything possible to have a stronger Quebec.”
What it says about Ms. Marois: While she talks about her team, the ad features only the PQ Leader talking about what she has done in her first mandate, and what she is hoping to accomplish if she wins a majority. The only written words in the ad are “Déterminée” and “Parti Québécois,” with the party using mainly grey tones to suggest an austere approach to government spending.
Contrast with the campaign: Ms. Marois’s main campaign events to this point have been to introduce new candidates that strengthen her economic team, including the arrival of media magnate Pierre Karl Péladeau as a star candidate. The ad may be dominated by economic issues, but the PQ campaign events have ended up focusing on the party’s sovereigntist agenda.
Follow Daniel Leblanc on Twitter