Perfect recipe for an effective motion without warning

Dominic Vallières has held, for more than 10 years, the positions of press officer, spokesman, speechwriter and director of communications with the elected officials of the National Assembly and the Municipalities (Parti Québécois, Bloc Québécois, Coalition Future Quebec). He is director of the TACT agency and speaks as a political analyst on QUB radio.

The resumption of work in the National Assembly means the beginning of a new chess game between the political parties. Study of bills, application periods, every gesture of the other will be dissected. These tactics are no longer a secret, but there are other lesser-known parliamentary opportunities to score public opinion points as well. This is the case with motions without notice.

Unannounced motions are presented the same morning, on days when the National Assembly meets. We can make a motion on any subject, whether it is topical or not. Most parties reserve topics (commemorative days, thematic months, anniversaries, etc.) and the parties hold caucuses to decide whether they will vote for or against a motion tabled by an opponent.

Where things get complicated is in the way the motions are written. Here is the recipe.

First, we need to establish something that EVERYONE agrees on. Let’s go with a fictitious example.

  • “Let the National Assembly recognize that the territory of Québec is vast and majestic. So far, everything is fine. And even if the example is fictitious, I agree!

Then you need to start pointing at someone.

  • “It should be recognized that uncontrolled urban expansion can harm the jewels of the territory. We remain in the world of facts.

Then comes the attack.

  • “That you ask the Quebec government to show political courage and ban urban sprawl. »

Obviously the government will not vote on this motion. We can negotiate some parts of the movements, a turn of phrase or a choice of words, but not an orientation. In this fictional example, it’s sexy, but inapplicable.

The result will be that opposition parties will be able to claim that the Quebec government does not care about the territory.

You will tell me that sometimes it is dishonest and you will not be wrong. The main objective of an opposition party, in this case, is to make the government look bad. It is not still the case, because the issues deserve the National Assembly to speak with one voice and rise above partisanship, but it is so often. The whole game is about finding how far we can lead the opponent. Probably a journalist will write about the rejection of the motion, and even if he puts all the necessary context in his article, the citizen who reads only the headlines will think that the government is on the wrong track in rejecting the premise of that motion. In our example, the government would not recognize that the land is vast and majestic…

Also, if we know that an issue is thorny within one of the opposition parties, we can table a motion to try to sow discord and expose internal division. A good motion on the importance of French can, for example, create discord in the Quebec Liberal Party. Another one on identity will spark lively discussions in Québec solidaire.

Note the very first motion tabled by the Parti Québécois on Tuesday:

  • “That the National Assembly recognize Quebec’s right to determine its own future. »
  • “That you affirm that Quebec is a free people and capable of assuming its destiny and its development. »
  • “That it condemns all forms of attacks and maneuvers aimed at questioning this principle. »
  • “That it recognizes the primacy of Québec democracy and its Parliament. »

First, it begins with a reference to a topical issue, namely the federal government’s attacks on Quebec, particularly regarding the use of the notwithstanding clause.

If the CAQ does not agree with the motion, its nationalism will be said to be a facade.

Then, try to trap the PLQ by using Robert Bourassa’s words after the collapse of the Meech Lake Agreement in 1990 (“whatever we say and do, Quebec is, today, today and forever, a distinct, free and capable of assuming its destiny and its development’).

It just didn’t work this week. Everyone voted in favor of the motion. So what did the PQ do? He called for a roll-call vote (deputy by deputy), knowing full well that some elected officials in Montreal’s West Island were perhaps less enthusiastic about the wording of the motion. The target. the goal? If the PLQ decides to take a (different!) turn on the language defense issue to please its English-speaking constituents, it will no doubt remember its vote from that Tuesday…

Beyond the questions and bills, pitfalls are everywhere in the National Assembly. Even when it comes time to state the obvious.

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