MA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science


Harmes, Adam


The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) is a provincial political party that was founded in 2011 and formed the province’s government for the first time in 2018. The purpose of this major research project is to explain the origins and policy preferences of the CAQ. It will argue that the CAQ reflects a “pragmatic conservative nationalist” ideology, and that this is as much a result of a conscious political orientation as it is a necessity in Quebec’s politically moderate electoral landscape. The party is the ideological heir and the continuation of the centre-right faction of the Parti Québécois (PQ), most notably represented by Lucien Bouchard, premier from 1998 to 2001. The CAQ is currently led by François Legault, a former PQ cabinet minister who had been recruited to politics by Bouchard himself.

To demonstrate the argument that the CAQ represents “pragmatic conservative nationalism,” the paper will be organized as follows. The essay will begin by reviewing the existing academic literature and discourse surrounding the CAQ. There is a debate on whether the party even has a coherent ideology. Some believe it to be a platform of electoral opportunism on the part of Legault, who took advantage of both the failure of the Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ) to obtain power, as well as the fall in support for Québécois sovereignty.