Trudeau is Quebec; Cauchon is the past.

Former MP Martin Cauchon was (figuratively) kicked off the Liberal leadership train because we do  not believe he represents modern Quebec. Like many of his contemporary provincial and federal Liberals, Cauchon is right of centre and fails to recognize the vibrant and growing legions of Quebecers who want to be part of a greater world.

That is why it is wrong to assume that Pauline Marois’ Parti Québècois won the government in the 2011 provincial election because they are separatists. It is safe though to assume they only won a minority because they are separatists. They won because they were the only social democrats in the race.

But Marois and the PQ are part of the past in much the same way as the union-dominated New Democrats hold onto attitudes out of the 1930s. In the same way, Charest’s Liberals were more in the image of the Union Nationale out of Quebec’s past. His government’s clash with the university students over tuition fees was classic Maurice Duplessis style obstinacy. Marois, at least, knew to bang pots with the students.

Why Quebec politics is tied so tightly to the past seems to be part of the insularity of Quebec. By tightening the noose on their own people, Quebec politicians think they can keep them docile. By allowing only the elite to be bilingual, they can try to keep les habitants down on the farm. The language police of Quebec are really only amusing to people from France.

But they are threatened by Justin Trudeau as federal Liberal leader. Cauchon explained it as Justin’s failure to try to appease Quebec. Cauchon sees that as the old Ottawa-knows-best attitude of when Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister.

On the other side of the argument is Justin Trudeau’s claim that people in Quebec want to be more involved in their country. He says creating the opportunity for involvement is the real challenge. He rejects the demand that Ottawa constantly come up with gestures to placate Quebec politicians. He says it does not work.

Only time and a federal election will prove who is right. Justin Trudeau has a long hard struggle ahead of him over the next two years to win the hearts and minds of all Canadians. We bet he can do it.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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