The Koi Keepers of Quebec.

Reading Chantal Hébert’s national affairs column recently, she referred to the tectonic plates of Quebec politics. I was unsure of the analogy. I tend to think of Quebec politics as a series of koi ponds. These ponds are not necessarily linked. The lesser regional ponds revolve around the axis of Quebec’s National Assembly in Quebec City and at City Hall in Montreal.

It is important to remember that koi tend to be colorful and interesting in their carefully tended and protected ponds. Outside their well tended environment, these fish are just bottom-feeding carp.

(And you do not feed koi by carelessly dumping their food in the pond. By careful scattering of the food, you get to see the beauty and enjoy the movement of all the koi. Obviously at the recent fish-feeding frenzy at Tokyo’s Akasaka Palace, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump had bigger fish to fry.)

While properly tended koi can live up to 200 years, Quebec political koi often become koi sushi after only a single term in office. Quebec voters tend to live by a “Fool me once…” rule. What the pundits puzzle over about Quebecer’s voting confusion is basically an impatience with fools. Good leadership is rare and even the best leaders can outlive their usefulness.

Like their distant cousins in France, Quebecers have a political creativity. If you are dissatisfied with the political party choices available on the ballot today, just wait until you see tomorrow’s offerings.

It is this creativity that solved the problems in running Montreal many years ago. This was when people such as Montreal’s famous Jean Drapeau put Montreal on the map with Expo 67. It sometimes seems that Drapeau was the last Montreal mayor to get anything done but that is not the case. The job gets done in Montreal because mayoral candidates bring a party with him or her to be elected on a unified platform of promises.

While Mayor Denis Coderre and his team seemed the best bet four years ago, he must have run out of gas this time around.

It will be interesting to see who will hold the provincial mantle next year after the Quebec National Assembly faces the voters. Will the movement be to a slight shift of the tectonic plates of Premier Philippe Couillard’s Liberals or to the flashy, flitting koi of the opposition parties?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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