Oh What a Night

Oh What a Night

After taking stock of Tuesday evening’s events, here is Farnell Morisset’s take on the Quebec provincial election proceedings and what it may mean for us:

If they could feed me election results via IV drip, I’d be hooked.  It’s not that I had such a vested interest in any party –I cancelled my vote at 9:35 that morning – but last Tuesday was decidedly a turning point for Québec.  What was still up in the air, though, was just how far we’d turn. In all, it was a night of hits and misses.

Some notable misses cannot go unstated.  I was terribly disappointed that CAQ candidate Maud Cohen was beaten by student activist and rising PQ star Léo Bureau-Blouin.  While this particular showdown in the Laval-des-Rapides riding was iconic to this election, pitting the solid and pragmatic former Ordre des Ingénieurs president (Cohen) against the charismatic 20-year-old idealist (Bureau-Blouin), I feel Cohen would have made an incredibly valuable voice of reason in our political landscape.

I was also disappointed that Jean-Martin Aussant was not re-elected under his new Option Nationale banner.  Unfairly snubbed during the debates despite sitting in parliament and presenting a candidate in every riding (except Gouin by the terms of their agreement with Québec Solidaire), Aussant’s straight, honest talk and dispassionate approach to Québec separatism would have brought a breath of fresh air and a sanity check to the PQ’s growing franco-nationalistic fringe.

François Legault of the CAQ, meanwhile, seems to be attempting to re-write his own party’s history, snubbing any mention of the ADQ or its re-elected MNAs in favour of self-congratulating rhetoric despite coming up a relatively weak third.  It’s like Gérard Deltell, Éric Caire, and all the other CAQists who have been sitting at the National Assembly in his name for the last few months didn’t even exist.  Terrible.

Of course, one cannot talk about the night of the election without a pause for Denis Blanchette, the unfortunate man killed in an act of senseless violence during Mme Marois’ victory rally.  That the deranged man who committed it seemed to be motivated by Anglophone identity and nationalism is highly alarming.  However, true to our nature, the people of Québec have unanimously condemned this reprehensible act, and today we are all reiterating our commitment to civic unity and civil discourse despite our existing disagreements.

But there were also some important hits.  Jean Charest, beaten in his own riding, gave what could be considered one of the most gracious acknowledgements of defeat in recent memory.  While I still resoundingly feel it was time for him to go, it was good to catch a glimpse of the man so many of us had voted for so often.  It should also be pointed out that even with the stated odds against him, he managed to come within 1% – or only 4 seats – of victory.

Pauline Marois’ victory speech also included a historic use of English.  Less than a decade ago, PQ leaders flatly refused to speak English at all in public, while Mme Marois’ own lacking English skill was a source of ridicule just a few years ago.  Despite her worrisome stance on English CEGEPs, schools, and rights, it seems she’s finally clued in that Anglophones are every bit as important to the fabric of Québec as Francophones.  I should also say that Mme Marois has cemented her title as the “Dame de Béton”.  Only a year ago political pundits across the spectrum had written her and her party off as dead… and now she’s Prime Minister.

The result of the election, all things considered, is probably the best we could have had, given the circumstances.  Québec Solidaire’s second seat will not be enough to bolster the PQ over that magic 63 seats necessary for new legislation, meaning the PQ will not be able to push forward any expansion of bill 101 to CEGEPs or their other troubling policies.

So what’s to come?  Well, given that the PQ ran on a platform of things they can’t do without the support of two parties who are radically opposed to said platform… a lot of bickering – and not just in parliament.  Minority governments typically last about 18 months, during which bickering is about all they do.

Sadly, expect the “question identitaire” to be re-opened, with all the ugliness that that implies. 

In this, my friends, I say two things. 

First, do not let the radical PQ fringes goad you into talking about “us” and “them” along lines of language, religion, ethnicity, or allegiance. 

This does not represent the convictions of the overwhelming majority of us – all of us – and we are all Québécois.  Second, make yourselves known and speak up.  Do it honestly, patiently, kindly, and with an intention to help… but do it.  That means talking to your neighbours, your coworkers, your in-laws.  If nothing else, just ask them how they’re doing and talk about the weather. 

We will never drown out the voices of radicals, but with reason and honesty, we can convince others not to listen.

See you at the polls in 18 months.

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About the author:


Born and raised in Québec City, Farnell Morisset attended English school throughout his primary, secondary, and CEGEP studies, before ultimately choosing to stay in Québec City and study civil engineering at Laval University.

While at Laval, he served as president of the civil engineering student association. It was there that he discovered his affinity for writing and commentary, preparing a weekly column in the student newspaper dealing with the issues he, as president of the association, felt were important and relevant.

Farnell is passionate about discussing (amongst other things) the issues of modern social identity for many Québecois who, like him, feel deeply connected to the Québecois nation and culture yet do not identify with the traditional francophone non-practicing Catholic nationalist image.

He is also alarmed by what seems to be an invasive and aggressive polarization of complex social issues for which there are no black-and-white answers. This eventual identity crisis, he feels, will only be solved through good faith in, and honest communication with, all sides pulling on our ever dwindling “pure laine” blanket.

It is with this in mind that he contributes to LifeinQuebec.com as a valued member of our, in-house, writing team.

Categories: News

About Author

Farnell Morisset

Farnell Morisset is passionate about discussing (among other things) the issues of modern social identity for many Québécois who, like him, feel deeply connected to the Québécois nation and culture yet do not identify with the traditional francophone non-practicing Catholic nationalist image. He has an engineering degree from Université Laval and is currently a law student at McGill University.

Comments

  1. sheehancyn
    sheehancyn 13 September, 2012, 13:17

    Wise words and a heart-warming call to unity. Thank you!

  2. farnell
    farnell 13 September, 2012, 14:08

    Thank you!

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