François Legault and the “efficient left”

François Legault this week revived the concept of the “effective left”, which he claimed in 2003, while he was still in the Parti Québécois.

The phrase underlies a judgment on the traditional left, allegedly “ineffective”. Whoever uses it is clearly a shameful leftist.

“Conservative right”

Why this return? To limit the damage resulting from his too frontal association with the conservatives of O’Toole.

This earned him the qualification of “Maurice Duplessis” by Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. Although lazy, the comparison can hurt: “Comparing someone to Duplessis is more or less like comparing him to Hitler in Quebec”, caricature Pierre-B. Berthelot in Duplessis is still alive (Septentrion).

Even if Legault has shown a certain courage in partly accepting the rapprochement (“Duplessis defended his nation”), an image risks “sticking”, that of the old authoritarian priest rising to the pulpit to harangue his flock.

The liberal Joël Lightbound, once re-elected, took pleasure in associating the CAQ leader with the “conservative right”.

Not “center right”

François Legault never liked being associated with the right, even with the center right.

In 2010, when the Coalition for the Future of Quebec was launched (which preceded the founding of the party), he insisted on dissociating himself from the Réseau Liberté Quebec, launched at the time, among others, by Éric Duhaime.

In an interview, François Legault said he was annoyed by the links made between him and the RLQ: “Me, it’s the“ effective left ”. It was I who invented the expression; it was stung from me by Jean-François Lisée. “

In 2008 (Legault was still at the PQ), Lisée has indeed published For an efficient left (Boréal). The “paternity” of “the beautiful expression”, he wrote, goes to François Legault, “this postmaster’s son who became a left-wing millionaire, then preferring the public service to the personal accumulation of capital”.


It was on May 6, 2003 – after the victory of the Liberals of Jean Charest -, in an open letter, that Legault used the formula for the first time. It had been whispered to him by the historian Éric Bédard, recalled yesterday the 24h : “The more efficient our public networks, the easier it will be to defend the generous principles of social democracy”, wrote Legault. A year later, the “effective left” found itself at the heart of a manifesto which he published in the fall of 2004 as an unofficial candidate to replace Bernard Landry.

If he used the notion to distinguish himself from the right, it was also useful for him to criticize a new emerging left. March 2006, by-election in Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques. Manon Massé wears the QS colors there for the first time. Comment from Legault: “Québec solidaire is on the left, but we [au PQ], it is perhaps the effective left, the left which gives results, the left a little more pragmatic. “

After the publication of the 2004 manifesto, a PQ activist, Sylvain Gaudreault (he became an MP in 2007), criticized The Daily : “By pulling in all directions, François Legault finally reaches the extreme center … There is nothing to convince Françoise David to stop raking in the traditional clientele of the PQ. “

Prophetic phrase. In 2017, it is exactly the Bourassist-oriented label that the head of the CAQ will claim, the extreme center!

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