Some thoughts while watching a few of the regular ‘talking heads’ being interviewed on recent events in Quebec: These so-called experts treat their voters as specimens—spread-eagled, pinned and dissected on a board. They ignore the impact of those allophones who steadfastly remain Quebeckers. And they think the rest of Canada ignores Quebec. What they need to overcome is their own biases that they bring to their analyses.
Politics is a fluid process and attitudes change.Quebec’s angst has its roots in history but real change for Quebec started in the 1960s and was called the quiet revolution. For lack of a turning point, we can use Expo ’67. It had challenge, umbrage, rebirth and confidence. It led to the excesses of the October Crisis. It made René Lévesque an unlikely revolutionary and by 1976, he was Premier of Quebec and vowing separation. He was a professional communicator and there was little to decipher in his threats to our country and his plans for Quebec.
But his referendum lost and he never recovered. His party lost its balance and appeal and never recovered. Separatism became a platform for demagogues who had lost touch with the people. Voting in Quebec became a tidal event. Each new wave is followed by dangerous undertows. You can only determineQuebec’s choices if you know how to throw and read the bones.
The reason is that Quebec voting has become increasingly volatile. A strange hybrid party has emerged that is the rump of the now defunct right-wing Action démocratique du Québec and deserters from the left-wing parti Québécois who formed the Coalition Avenir Québec. If you think that is a strange combination, consider this: Pollsters are telling us that if an election was held tomorrow and if this party had the candidates ready, it could win a provincial election.
And why was anyone surprised last year that the New Democrats won so many Quebec seats in the federal election? The voters no longer trusted Gilles Duceppes’ Bloc Québécois. That party had nothing to offer. Michael Ignatieff was old guard to them and they were not getting on the Liberal train. And they had an understandable fear of the right-wing agenda of Stephen Harper. Why not vote for that guy Jack’s New Democrats?
The NDP benefited from René Lévesque’s legacy of social democratic rule in the 1970’s and 80s.Quebec voters like those politics. It is too bad the Quebec federal Liberals had never thought to present a more social democratic program.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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