A very knowledgeable francophone writer wrote today that Jean Charest’s Quebec Liberals were going the way of their federal counterparts. If she meant that the Quebec Liberals are headed for third party status in the Quebec National Assembly after the September 4 election, she could be right. What she should not have done was confuse the Quebec Liberal Party with the Liberal Party of Canada. She must have done that to keep the explanation simple for her Anglo readers.
Charest’s Liberals are the successors of the Quebec governments of Jean Lesage, Robert Bourassa and Maurice Duplessis and any relationship with liberal philosophy is purely coincidental. The only progressive Quebec governments in that time were Parti Québécois and if they had not been so hung up on constant infighting, tribalism, parochialism, elitism and separatism, they would have done a better job. When Charest passed the draconian anti-demonstration laws against the students earlier this year, he lost any connection he had with liberalism and showed his true colours as a Conservative/Union National adherent.
What is happening at the moment is that François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec is draining off some of the Charest Liberal’s right-wing votes and putting Pauline Marois’ Parti Québécois into the lead in the polls. While there is still time for a turn-around by any of the parties involved, it is starting to look like an interesting minority government situation. Making such a government work, will be a fascinating political challenge.
Just to confuse things, Thomas Mulcair leader of the federal New Democrats is speculating that he might want to help get a provincial NDP wing launched in his province. That would bleed off some of the union and left-wing support for the Parti Québécois and ensure a minority government situation in the Quebec National Assembly for the foreseeable future.
What needs to happen is for true liberals to take over the Quebec Liberal Party when Charest quits after this election. That way when Mulcair’s federal NDP merge with the federal Liberal Party, the Liberal/NDP in Quebec will be the strongest possible combination. It could put an end to separatism for a long time. And federally, it could also put an end to Stephen Harper’s reign in Ottawa.
And if Jean Charest was a liberal, it would be so easy!
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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