Sunday, October 17, 2010

This Week in Dysfunctional Quebec Politics

I missed several days of Quebec news while hanging out at Mount Holyoke for a conference on "Building Coalitions to Build States."  And a theme emerges: none of the parties here look too good.
  • Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois (the separatist party that runs at the federal level) was in DC, trying to sell his cause with the twin messages of the inevitability of a successful referendum on independence and on how good it would be for the US.  The coverage suggests that he was not terribly convincing on either score.  Regarding the latter, it has been historically the case that American leaders have wanted to stay out of this issue, but have also indicated that they would prefer for Canada to stick together.  Quebec separatists tend to forget that the American Civil War continues to make secession rather unpopular.
  • The Parti Quebecois (the provincial separatist party) was riding high until this week.  News of a potential third party emerging proved to be most distressing.  A possible center-right Francophone party immediately polled as well as the PQ.  The striking thing is that the new party would be essentially putting separatism away, trying to focus on governance.  That a non-separatist Francophone party would immediately divide the PQ vote suggests that much of the support for the PQ is not about separatism but (justified) frustration with the province's Liberal Party.  This means that pushing on separatism would actually not be the way to go.  Hmmm.
  • Which brings us to the Liberals of Quebec.  They have called a special session of the National Assembly to push through the reforms to the language laws governing education (which I have discussed frequently here).  One columnist here has tried to figure out whether this tactic reflects that the party is sneaky or stupid, arguing for the former.  That is, did the Liberals screw up the legislative calendar or are they trying to sneak the legislation through in a way that minimizes controversy?  I would argue it is a mix of both, as they have to figure out a way to sell out their Anglophone supporters not too obviously without providing too much meat for the PQ to chew over.  The Liberals have clearly governed too long, making everyone tired of them, and looking for a change.  The problem, as the discussion above suggests, is that the alternative (the PQ) is not very attractive.  
While the political ads in the US (I saw more than a few while in Massachusetts) are pretty depressing, I find voting there to be far less depressing than if I had the right to vote here. 

1 comment:

Francois Caron said...

Voting in the US is asking for a large dose of anti-depressor drugs!
Only two parties for so wide apart opinions of a large amount of paramount issues. It's a way to big country. No one can put his arm around it, and none of its issues.

The bottom of this country is falling apart; hope and confidence of high growth is going away, and the becoming fact of making out with a low (normal) growth kill their so famous *pride*. Can't do worst to American!
Post colonial country like France, for instance is in that mess is many decades.