Anyway, the stat of the morning is that apparently only 36% of Francophones think that Anglophones play a constructive role in Quebec politics. There are many ways to read this, but here is my interpretation of this result.
- Because of the nationalist politics of the past thirty or forty years, the Anglophones have had only one real choice--the Provincial Liberals. The Parti Quebecois is not only separatist but regularly promises policies that threaten the interests of the Anglophones--limiting job opportunities, undermining educational opportunities (always the threat for "proportionate" funding of higher education--which means cutting the money going to McGill, Concordia, and Bishop's), and so on. It is most clear that Anglophones would not be very welcome in an independent Quebec, given the politics and promises of the past.
- Third parties have generally been vague about their preferences about a future referendum on independence. The ADQ was "autonomist" but did not rule out independence. The new third party, the CAQ, had until yesterday or the day before said that it would not seek a referendum for ten years. Only in the past couple of days has its leader, Francois Legault ruled out a referendum or the goal of independence entirely. Given his past stances, one could understand why a federalist might be dubious.
- Given this reality, Anglophones had only one choice--to vote for the Liberals. Which means that they can be taken for granted. That the Anglophones could not and probably still cannot reasonably threaten to take their votes and go to another party.
- Which makes it damn hard to be constructive. How do you induce political change, how do you get politicians to focus on good governance, if your vote really hangs on the nationalist question? Francophones can swing as much as they want because nationalist issues are just some of their concerns. They have political power because they can choose any party without fear of new laws being enacted to discriminate and even disenfranchise them. But with Marois positing policies that redefine Citizenship in ways that marginalize minorities, the Anglos have no place to go.
So, either way you look at it, this particular finding is not surprising. It has multiple meanings, of course, and we can draw whatever implications we want. Which is why polls like this are like Rorschach tests--we see what we want to see. I see a powerless bloc of voters. Others see a key constituency of a government that sucks.
Yes, the Charest government sucks. But a PQ government would suck more, especially for Anglos. Hence the dilemma.