Friday, 3 August 2012

Jean Charest is right to go to the ballot box. It is put up or shut up time for Quebec protests.

Will this protest translate into Parti Quebecois votes?

Jean Charest: His summer election call has some risk but is largely a ho-hum while Quebec separatism has an opportunity to self-destruct.

by Tom Thorne

Jean Charest, the current premier of Quebec is a guy you either like or you hate at the moment. He really irritates Quebeckers who profess separatism from Canada and he holds the line on the student protests which are allegedly over post secondary tuition hikes. More likely  these street protests mask more trendy separatist political agendas at least for the Parti Quebecois. Lastly Charest calls elections at a moment when everyone would rather be on vacation.
This summer election gambit will probably pay off for Jean Charest.  Think about it. No sensible Quebecker wants separatism from Canada. Tax paying adults think the tuition protests have gone on too long and are over the top while post secondary education is starved for cash.  Quebeckers know that separatists cannot be satisfied by any government even their own Parti Quebecois when it is in power. 

Separatism masquerading as sovereignty is a very fragmented and vacillated concept especially when it is so poorly articulated by the Parti Quebecois leaders. As usual separatism lives off unrest and at this time that unrest is the form without substance student protests.
So Jean Charest has called this election knowing that he will likely get a fourth term, but if he gets a minority government or if the separatists take power as punishment for his alleged construction industry pork barreling that is now wallowing in a series of public hearings  fortunately in summer recess. After the election, the Parti Quebecois wins, they will also have to make Quebec work which will probably include raising post secondary tuition fees at some point. 
Quebec politics is a lot of posturing about unrealistic ideas such as mystical referendums and separatist agendas that most Quebeckers and other Canadians find a useless tiresome exercise. There is no way that in the Canadian federation anyone can really claim that the Francophone culture is under any stress or on the brink of dissolution if Quebec doesn't realize a state in North America. This idea blew its bolt years ago. It is a political echo of times past.
If Pauline Marois, the current Parti Quebecois (PQ) leader says she wants a referendum on separatism she has all but guaranteed a return of the Charest Liberals warts and all for a fourth term. She is already vacillating: referendum maybe if the time is right and the separatists can win. She also attacks the federal government with a lot of anti-Harper rhetoric.

Marois sides with the student protesters because Charest does not. She has no original ideas.  Charest has picked this election fight knowing the mood of the electorate which is largely something like, "hold your nose and vote Liberal to maintain some sense of order in Quebec" or "better the devil you know than suffer the bankrupt waffling of the Parti Quebecois".
For all these reasons I am climbing out on a limb and calling for a fourth Charest win in September. The fuzzy alternatives to his government are defined only by their abstractness. The amorphous student protests have a single issue focus that a democratically elected parliament has ruled on. Tuition fees will rise and will remain the lowest tuitions in all of Canada into the bargain.
The  Quebec student movement is more social media induced form without substance protest. It has no focus except the protests themselves and until its leaders decide to really test their public appeal by running for the Parti Quebecois, it is a non democratic force that no government can give into. Even the Parti Quebecois in power could not afford to give in to  the rule of the streets.
When student protest  leader Leo Bureau-Blouin declared as a candidate for the Parti Quebecois he got my respect as someone who offers himself to the democratic process to advance his views rather than protest in the streets. If he wins his riding that will speak for democracy, if he looses then his ideas will have been rejected. Of course, since he has joined himself to a separatist party he may be defeated on that issue alone.
On the other hand, Gabriel Nadeau Dubois of the Coalition large de l'association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, popularly known as CLASSE, has decided to stay out of any endorsement of any political party. He is still turning protesters out into the streets after the election call. I have a feeling that he is hoping that the Parti Quebecois forms the next government, but he hasn't the political integrity to say that or to run for public office. And as I said before the PQ will then have to govern if they are elected, so CLASSE will not gain much from a Pauline Marois Parti Quebecois government.
Nadeau Dubois may find that when the PQ gets into government they will be as intransigent over tuition fees as Jean Charest has been. There is always a sobering of political rhetoric once the financial books have been seen by an incoming PQ government.
Two nights ago Quebec streets were again filled with protestors. Well they need to get out and vote for the Parti Quebecois that says they will hold the line on tuition. They will hold the line on tuition and other demands of the protestors because they want their votes for the real agenda which is Quebec separatism. It is all so bankrupt and transparent.
All these young people may think its cool to use social media to gather in the streets but are they all so sure they want to give their votes to a separatist party to get at the Charest Liberals?  Make sure protestors that you are on the voter's list so you can help make your points through the democratic process.
If Jean Charest wins the election and does so with a majority the Quebec people will have spoken and the protests should fade away if the protesters are democrats. If the protests continue with a majority then a lot of protestors failed to learn any lesson about the democratic process. Let's see how it all shakes out this September.
© Copyright 2012, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved. 

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