Quebec Liberal Party Leader, Philippe Couillard, today announced a promise to make public transport free for all students and people over the age of 65.
Currently, a full-time student or person aged 65 and over must purchase a monthly card at a cost of $51 to travel on a bus or metro of the Montreal Transit Corporation (STM). ). Students living in the suburbs pay up to $214 per month to use a group pass that covers suburban trains, buses and metro in the metropolitan area.
However under the new PLQ policy, full-time students regardless of age, enrolled in a school recognized by the Department of Education and Advanced Learning will be able to board a bus, subway car or commuter train – and soon a train of the Metropolitan Express Network – without paying a penny, he announced less than two days of the first debate leaders.
The policy would result in a $200 million a year deficit for the transportation companies says the PLQ. Not to worry though, Couillard says the government would happily pay for it, with your taxes.
Funnily enough the policy is even more to the left than even Quebec Solidaire, with the socialist party only offering students and the elderly half off public transport. We must now ask, has Couillard, the man who just days ago defend tax dodgers by shouting “Freedom!” turn a new socialist leaf? Is Couillard now more left wing then Manon Massé?
It might have more to do with the fact that a new poll by Léger shows the PLQ’s youth vote crumbling, the Liberals loosing an impressive seven points within the demographic since the start of the campaign three weeks ago. The policy was announced just hours after this poll.
It seems Couillard and his party are learning the ways of opposition, or small party electioneering. Knowing now they have little chance of gaining a majority on election day they are starting to throw out policies designed to buy votes and stop their support collapsing all together. Already they are at the lowest polling number in recent memory. They know you can promise more if you’re no longer the ruling party, and don’t have to deliver come the day after the election.
The new policy echos the “Santa Claus Couillard” line that CAQ leader Legault was spouting on Sunday, a line that seems to be more true by the day. With the debate coming up and the PLQ losing votes like crazy their leader will have to do more than just put gifts under the tree if he wants to survive. It seems he knows his days as Premier of Quebec, as well as leader of the Liberal Party, are numbered. He’s now happy to offer up any imaginary policy that might keep him clinging to power.