Now we are supposed to be worrying about the election chances for Quebec Premier Jean Charest. It was bad enough last year having to vote for a wus like Dalton McGuinty in Ontario. Both Ontario and Quebec political leaders are well past their ‘best before’ dates and the only reason they are still in power is that the alternatives for the voters are even less appealing.
And neither Charest nor McGuinty are liberals. Charest might be leading something called the Quebec Liberal Party but it has nothing to do with the federal party by that name. Under Charest, the Quebec party has assumed the mantle of the Parti Bleu founded by Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine in the 1850s. It was the party that under Georges-Étienne Cartier joined Sir John A. Macdonald in Confederation as the Coalition Party and later became the Conservative Party of Canada. In Quebec, it was an extremely reactionary party with strong ties to the Catholic Church. It, at one time, was known as the Union Nationale and more recently has combined with the Quebec Liberal Party.
And if that is confusing, the Ontario situation is not much clearer. The Ontario Liberal Party is led by a Whig. There are some real liberals here and there among the Liberal Caucus at Queen’s Park but they have to keep a low profile. The Whigs are in control. (Whigs were the predecessors of the Liberals in England about 200 years ago.) Until they replace McGuinty, Ontario Liberals will not be part of the 21st Century.
The current problem in Quebec is that Charest has alienated just about everybody with his handling of the student unrest over rising university fees. He blew it when he passed a draconian demonstration law that put everyone from six to sixty in bed with the students. It would be really serious if it was not for the fact that his only competition in the election in a few months is the Parti Québécois under Pauline Marois. The apathy towards her is as bad as the apathy towards Charest.
Just to throw a rock into the situation, Prime Minister Harper is saying that he can work with any Quebec government. That might not be entirely true if a Marois government takes umbrage at his trying to send Alberta tar sands crude to the east coast through oil pipelines that travel through Quebec.
A left-of-centre PQ government will not only make things uncomfortable for Harper but, according to recent polling, the separatists might find themselves in a situation whereby a large number of Canadians outside Quebec might tell them to ‘leave and be damned.’ That might make a serious statement about the ignorant attitude of some Canadians but it also makes maintaining national unity more difficult for those who recognize the greater value of this country as a whole!
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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