Quebec's political sanity

Posted 09.13.12

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | This month's Quebec election has generated more questions than surprises. One example, why did Quebec Solidaire not do better with voters who a year ago reconstructed Canada's political landscape by putting the NDP in as national opposition? The SQ must be seen as more than the PQ's left wing.

The questions include the political sanity of Charest's government in calling a stealth election, hoping to beat up the student movement. The students (and their families) proved their depth by washing Charest's Plan Nord from public consciousness. The Plan Nord needs intense analysis -- the Plan's details are disturbing -- but instead of that analysis, we were given the childish choice of "them vs us" by Mr. Charest. He lost his seat over that gambit, but Quebecers lost even more, the opportunity to examine the many implications and opportunities of the Plan Nord. Both the Liberal bigwigs and the student leadership have done Quebec this disservice.

More questions swirl around Pauline Marois' agenda. It's not hard to see another worst-case scenario playing itself out, given Mme. Marois' threats to punish the Outaouais (for being so damned federalist, one supposes), punish the province's minorities, and punish any francophones who wish to utilize Quebec's very convenient access to other languages and cultures as an advantage in engaging the globalized economy around us. Why this automatic reaction of punishment and revenge? Is this a hold-over from our province's domination by religious forces?

The best advice to the PQ is the adage that vinegar doesn't catch flies. Instead of bleeding the Outaouais with a thousand cuts for its federalist leanings, offer us the help we need, which the federalists haven't provided (because they see us a captive audience). The CRCO has asked for a reversal of our fifty-year decline in funding for the arts. Gatineau's university needs resources. The Outaouais' school drop-out record is dismal -- there are so many areas in which we need help!

Mme. Marois has a place in history as our first female premier. Will she be a footnote to history or an entire chapter? If she feeds her old guard, the geezers my age who want one more kick at the referendum can before they croak, her record may read, " . . . she stalled Quebec's future by immersing us in the quarrelling of another unwinable referendum"?

Or will she provoke a crisis, enabling her to call new elections to ride in as a majority government on a wave of popular indignation? That's the easiest, cheapest, and least honourable route. Been there, done that, won nothing.

Let's have a public discussion of what sovereignty means. What does "sovereignty" look like in a world run by a self-serving great powers and non-national corporations? Isolated Cuba? Bankrupt Greece? Resource-raided Congo? Instead of the flag-waving, what's the model for a sovereign Quebec? Where is there a sovereign, really sovereign, small nation?

Lots of questions, lots of pitfalls -- and opportunities.

Copyright © 2012 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/09.12