Skip to main content

electile dysfunction

i'm peculiarly proud of myself for voting in the quebec provincial election today. perhaps it's that sense of self-sacrifice, that i went out and walked the ten minutes in freezing cold weather to mark my little "x" in the full knowledge that it wouldn't count for anything. only canadians seem to be able to take pride in doing things that are pointless and painful out of a sense of responsibility. that said, with recent voter turnouts, it's becoming obvious that most canadians are hopping off that train in record numbers.

i can't really say as i would blame people who opted out of this contest. after all, we're in the midst of a flash freeze that unexpectedly dropped the temperature from around freezing to minus double digits in the space of twelve hours. who really wants to head into that?

then, of course, there's the issue of the actual parties and their positions, which always makes engaging in quebec politics rather like hugging a porcupine. sure, it's cute from a distance.

leaving aside the free-falling flash-in-the-pan action democratique, there are in this election and every election, two parties who are competing for the votes of quebeckers. you can find their public platforms on a variety of issues on the linked web sites (although i have to say that as i'm typing this, the liberal web site isn't working) but there is one important thing that every student of quebec politics should understand that you won't find mentioned therein: neither of those parties wants to separate quebec from the rest of canada.

this is sort of a difficult proposition to wrap your head around, since separation (or sovereignty, if you prefer) is a key part of the platform of the parti quebecois. nonetheless, it is true. after all, quebec has a pretty good deal going with the national system of equalization payments, receiving more money than it could hope to generate on its own by virtue of the fact that it remains, however sullenly, within the national federation of canada. and, in truth, no provincial party has done more with their equalization money. university tuition in quebec is significantly lower than in other parts of the country, owing to a decision that kept fees capped for over a decade. quebec also used public funds to start its own $5 a day day care program under the pq watch in 1997. so no one can argue that the separatist party doesn't enjoy and employ the benefits of remaining in canada. the fact is that any serious separatist party would be taking every step to cut back the province's expenses and to wean it without delay from its dependence on money from the federal coffers. after all, we each learn when we make that first move away from home: as long as your parents are still paying the bills, you're a long way from being truly independent. (if you want to see people who really do want quebec to separate, trying looking at people in every other province in canada. a lot of them look like the proverbial rich guy realising he should have had his wife sign a pre-nup. he desperately wants her gone, because she's making him crazy every time she talks, but he knows that leaving her himself is going to be way too expensive.)

no one can say that the liberals, the erstwhile voice of federalism within quebec, don't take full advantage of its image as st. george holding back the separatist dragon, armed only with huge bags of money from ottawa. and that propaganda is hugely successful. make no mistake, the liberal party of quebec will garner many thousands of votes today from people who either do not agree with or do not know the party's stand on issues of direct importance to the lives of citizens, simply because those people believe that if they do not vote liberal, the province is headed for sovereignty and doom.

and maybe those people have the right idea. after all, if you're going to choose between two parties who don't really want to separate quebec from canada, you might as well give your vote to the one that comes right out and says it. ah, but there in the fluffy angel cake of political compromise lies the razor blade of reality. the fact that every provincial election in quebec must be fought with the question of sovereignty lurking beneath the surface means that there isn't ever an election about anything else. no one ever gets to think about all the other issues that provincial governments are supposed to be dealing with, because each vote comes down to weather you want to give your support to a party that says it wants to separate or a party that says it doesn't.

i'm willing to bet that there are a lot of quebec residents who'd be willing to trade some of those equalization dollars to get some real political debate and representation.

Comments

Part of the reason for the low turnout (besides the cold) is that the whole idea is a power grab by the liberals as they pull ahead in the polls... how remarkably similar to what the conservatives attempted on the federal level. The only consolation is that this very well may be the ADQ's last election... with any luck that is.
flora_mundi said…
well, sadly, i don't know if much is going to stop charest in this case... quebec lacks an internal quebec to throw a wrench in the works...
Kiefer and Emo said…
We've always sort of rooted for an independent Quebec. I liked the flag. Well that's not very practical. Oh I know that. So why did I say it? Well... it IS a pretty cool flag. I agree, but that's hardly a reason to become an independent state. Well maybe they'd have a Club Med in Quebec. Drinks with little umbrellas in the snow? No really, Quebec city is really pretty. Well I suppose that's a good enough reason.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

fun-raising

no, i am not dead, nor have i been lying incapacitated in a ditch somewhere. i've mostly been preparing for our imminent, epic move, which is actually not so terribly epic, because we found a place quite close to where we are now. in addition, i've been the beneficiary of an inordinately large amount of paying work, which does, sadly, take precedence over blogging, even though you know i'd always rather be with you.

indeed, with moving expenses and medical expenses looming on the horizon, more than can be accounted for even with the deepest cuts in the lipstick budget, dom and i recently did something that we've not done before: we asked for help. last week, we launched a fundraising campaign on go fund me. it can be difficult to admit that you need a helping hand, but what's been overwhelming for both of us is how quick to respond so many people we know have been once we asked. it's also shocking to see how quickly things added up.

most of all, though, the ex…

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …