François Duplessis

François Duplessis

The election results in Quebec Monday night came with such rapidity people on the twit machine were laughing about it.

Debatable whether it’s funny. But it sure is a clear reflection of how well-connected François Legault is to old-stock soft-nationalist francophone Quebecers outside of Montreal. That’s because he’s unashamedly like them. Not that there’s any shame in being stubborn like a mule, attached to one’s culture and language, metaphysically bonkers when it comes to religion in the public sphere (hello, public support for Bill 21) and at times both baveux et un peu timoré sur les bords. 

In many ways, Legault is no Maurice Duplessis. For one thing, Duplessis had much more of a privileged background and education. He was also full of hate and bigotry towards Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, women, communists (however he defined them), liberals, intellectuals and basically anyone who didn’t obey him at once. He wasn’t fond of artists either. 

But he knew exactly how to appeal old-stock non-urban francophones who cared, more than anything, about protecting their faith, their language, their identity and their culture. All of which, at the time, were rather more threatened than they are today. But today’s voters don’t necessarily see it that way. 

In this column I make the case that as long as he follows his instincts, Legault should be able to remain in power.