Friday, October 22, 2010

Rights on Sale?

One last rant (for the time being) about the language and education fracas here in Quebec.  The Liberals shoved through Bill 115 that creates a process that allows people otherwise unentitled to English public schools in Quebec (immigrants, Francophones) buy going to unsubsidized private school for three years and then going through a process by which their sincerity is assessed--whether English is their genuine pathway. 

The Parti Quebecois opposed it and vows to get rid of it as soon as they are in power (which is inevitable, given how long the Liberals have been in office and how much they have mis-governed).  The PQ argues that this means that rights are for sale.  The interesting thing here, for me anyway, is that this implicitly recognizes that the choice is defined as rights for sale (via private schools) or the denial of rights.  Ooops.  The PQ cannot be in the position of saying that they are denying people rights.  So, they have to cover up their real position in class conflict sauce (is class conflict sauce just denial sauce with a few extra ingredients?). 

The funny thing is that I have been both writing and lecturing the past few days about veto points--the idea (Tsebelis) that with more players having the ability to say no, the harder it is to reach agreement.  This makes any existing agreements much harder to change.  The joy and the pain of parliamentary government (especially British-style, ironically enough) is that all you need to do to change lots of stuff is have a simple majority in seats.  So, I have no doubt that the PQ will repeal Bill 115 when it gets into power.  I am not a huge fan of the bill, as I view it as the Liberals selling out their Anglophone and immigrant constituents (not to mention principals perhaps).  I don't have to imagine the PQ doing worse as they have already promised to do so--removing the English private school option entirely for immigrants.  I am just hoping that the political process takes long enough that my daughter is out of high school before she gets kicked out of her school. 

The irony is that I am mighty upset about how the US Senate operates these days, with a super-majority required to get anything done, but I would love to have a super-majority requirement for the big decisions in Quebec.  Unfortunately, requiring more than fifty percent plus one only applies to leadership battles within the PQ.

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