The media are finally taking a closer look at Francois Legault's Coalition Avenir Quebec.
And they probably should be: according to the latest polls, the CAQ is poised to be the province's official opposition after Tuesday's election. And if there's a minority government in Quebec's national assembly, the CAQ will hold the balance of power.
In many ways, Legault and his party have been hard to pin down during this election campaign.
Legault is a former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister, and until about 3 years ago was a staunch sovereignist.
He now claims that if there is a referendum in the next 10 years, he would vote no, but, remarkably, won't rule out his support for sovereignty after that.
[ Related: Legault says sovereignty is economically feasible ]
So, is he a separatist or isn't he?
Others candidates in the CAQ also have sovereignist ties.
The Globe and Mail is reporting that Robert Milot, who is running for the CAQ in the riding of Labelle, was rejected as a Bloc Quebecois candidate, in 2011, after the separatist federal party learned of his 1998 charge of smuggling cigars into Canada from Cuba.
While the cigar smuggling charge is definitely a more titillating story, the focus ought to have been on Milot wanting to run for the Bloc — a party that makes no bones about its mission for an independent Quebec — less than a year ago.
The sovereignty issue aside, the CAQ has also been all over the map on other policy issues.
"[They're] neither federalist nor separatist, neither left nor right, in favour of the university tuition hike but willing to mitigate the increase and, strangely enough, embracing both fiscal conservatism and economic interventionism," the Globe's Sumitra Rajagoplan recently wrote about them.
Clare Schulte-Albert of the Prince Arthur Herald, suggests the CAQ platform has both the the English and French media scratching their heads:
"The asymmetries are rampant. He wants to create a Natural Resources Fund for the Plan Nord, but shies away from shale gas exploitation at a time when experts are saying it could blunt the effects of carbon dioxide emissions. At the same time that CAQ is proposing a major downloading of powers to the municipal level, he plans to intervene in reducing the number of city councillors in the metropolitan of Montréal and place the city's transit planning management under provincial jurisdiction. While barring foreign takeovers of Québec companies, CAQ would like to see the federal government promote Québec products on foreign markets. Legault wants to crack down on immigration numbers, but in the same breath, he promotes "openness to the world" and wants to integrate skilled immigrants into the labour market."
Just who are these guys poised to be major players in Quebec's national assembly?
It seems the CAQ doesn't really want us to know.