Tuesday, June 8, 2010

When a Bad Law Looks Good

Today's Montreal Gazette (yes, it is known for being biased in the language debates) has letters to the editor by Anglophones complaining about the limited language choice of Bill 103 but also a frontpage story where the leader of the Parti Quebecois, Pauline Marois, met with a group of language hawks on the other side of the debate, seeking to mobilize against Bill 103 for giving too much choice to the Anglophones.  Amongst the groups joining this "mobilization" are a few that are quite radical and have threatened violence on occasion.

So, Bill 103, which essentially tries to throw a patch over the problem and minimize the fallout for the current government, looks a bit better than the PQ's alternative: invoking the notwithstanding clause and end the English private school option for everyone.  Marois thinks that using this clause that overrides the Canadian Charter of Rights is no big deal--that the majority of folks in Quebec have the right to do what they want.  Again, the wonderful irony that a previously oppressed minority in Canada does not mind imposing a tyranny of majority when it gets the chance. 

However, there is one problem here: recent polls show that there are significant majorities in all language groups that favor educational choice.  Neither the Liberals nor the PQ is playing to this majority, but the Liberals are closer to the median than the PQ.  Hard not to be when the PQ is captured by its extreme wing.  The Liberals have governed for a long time in Quebec, and there is some exhaustion.  Yet, it may be the case that they would still win the next election if the PQ keeps moving further and further to an extreme end of the spectrum.  Marois is somewhat held hostage by the hawks in her party, so she may end up having to represent a platform in the next election that is unappealing to the majority of Quebec folks.  On the other hand, maybe the Anglophones will not turn out so much since the Liberals have disappointed again. 

I just hope we can get three more years of Liberal rule, so my daughter can make it through high school without having to change schools or us to move out of province in response to a PQ revision of Bill 103.

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