Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault after election results came in Sept. 4, 2012.
Credits: QMI AGENCY
The most powerful politician in Quebec right now is not separatist premier-elect Pauline Marois who, despite her fragile minority, still talks as if she has the divine right of queens.
No, the most powerful politician in Quebec is Francois Legault, head of the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), a party that did not even exist a year ago.
It is no small achievement.
While his party, now just nine months old, may have placed third in last Tuesday's provincial election, Legault commands the 19 seats that will unquestionably determine the near future of Quebec.
Do the math.
Marois' separatist tribe has 54 seats in the National Assembly, the Liberals of Jean Charest, himself now gone, have 50.
Without Legault's support, Marois can pose and pontificate all she wants but be able to do nothing. And, without Legault's support, the Liberals are absolutely useless as the official opposition.
This makes Legault undoubtedly the most powerful politician in Quebec. The balance of power belongs to him and to him alone.
Not only is this good news for Quebec, it is good news for the Rest of Canada, tired as it is of hearing all this separatist rhetoric coming from a province that would make Greece's economy look good if not for the billions of transfer payments it gets from being a have-not member of the confederation the Pequistes so loudly loathe.
From the very outset of his campaign, Legault turned his back on his former PQ colleagues, vowing that Quebec's economy was his No. 1 concern and that sovereignty, despite his past support, was so far down his priority list that it hardly exists.
It earned him 27% of the popular vote in Quebec, a remarkable feat for a party barely born.
And, most importantly, it earned the Rest of Canada a reprieve from even the threat of a constitutional crisis by denying Pauline Marois the majority she so craved.
Not only that, Legault vows not to be drawn into Marois' quarrels over secularism or culture, and has no intention of reopening the language can of worms known as Bill 101.
To him, c'est l'economie, idiot.
Just as it should be, and must be.