Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Circular Course Of Things

Yesterday, Pauline Marois announced that Quebecers will be going to the polls on April 7th. She is prepared to defend her Charter of Values. But she has said nothing about holding a third referendum.

In 1980, my wife and I voted in the first referendum. But by 1995, like many of our generation, we had left Quebec -- not so much by choice but from necessity. I began my teaching career at a new high school in the Eastern Townships. The school's population was 1,100 students. By the time we left twelve years later -- because of Quebec's language law and a weak economy -- the school's enrolment was 300. We thought we better leave before they turned out the lights.

There are some who say that separatism is no longer an issue in Quebec. But, in the Toronto Star, Tom Walkom refers to Fredrick Nietzsche's definition of history. It was, said Nietzsche, “the unconditional and infinitely repeated circular course of all things.”

Walkom  then turns his attention to the subject of separation:

Certainly, separatism has been dismissed before. The PQ’s failure to win a referendum on sovereignty in 1980 was thought then to have put paid to the issue.

In 1989, with support for separatism hovering near 40 per cent, sovereignty was said to be dead and buried, The PQ’s then leader, Jacques Parizeau, was routinely dismissed as a fossil from another time.

Young people, we were told then, had abandoned sovereignty and become internationally minded.

But anyone who dismisses Quebec nationalism as a spent force doesn't understand Quebec. Certainly, Stephen Harper doesn't understand Quebec. In fact, his contempt for all the provinces gives sovereignists the best argument they have ever had for separation.

I make no predictions this morning about this election. But I do feel uncomfortable -- because we are again going to experience the circular course of things.


CK said...

I made somewhat of a prediction at my site last night-- Don't believe the polls who have gotten it all wrong in recent elections. Pauline Marois and the PQ will never get a majority. Nothing much has changed since September 2012 election. She is still hugely unpopular--even amongst separatists. In fact, I dare say that she is the least popular PQ leader since Andre Boisclair.

The number of seats are true numbers. How many more seats can she realistically gain? Sure rural Quebec may find the Charter of Values appealing, but especially in and around the greater Quebec City area, which generally had the right leaning ADQ and subsequently CAQ will most likely remain there.

She may have a few regions elsewhere like around Abitibi-Temiscaming along with Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean or lower North Shore, but not enough for a majority.

As for Montreal, the working class of the east end of the city along with south west less affluent ridings may score some votes for her, but I believe Quebec Solidaire can make gains there. West-End Montreal, who are drowning in their own hypocrisy over the Charter of Values (Another discussion for another time, but suffice to say there has been much dishonesty and hypocrisy from both sides of that debate), will solidly remain Liberal - Dr. Philippe Couillard can poison his grandmother and he'd still win almost, if not all of west-end Montreal. Not enough Montreal seats for Marois. Without a good portion of Montreal, a majority cannot be had by either PQ or Liberals.

It's going to be another minority PQ with perhaps an increase of a few seats, but no more.

As for referendum happening in the future, well, I think we're due for one anyway. The only way for it not to be talked about again is if Quebec either separates or is repatriated into the constitution--the 2 only means of closure.

As for Harper, he's probably laughing so much watching media fall all over themselves over this while he continues to ram through his unfair election act, and other hideous things he does on the sly while the media and others are distracted.

Owen Gray said...

Any party has always needed a good portion of Montreal's votes to get a majority, CK. I guess that hasn't changed.

I hope your analysis is right. The only caveat I have is this: If another Lucien Bouchard emerges to inflame old wounds, the results of the election and possible referendum could be -- like the last time -- very close.