Thursday, April 25, 2024

A party that wants to be told no…

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Tony Vaughn
Tony Vaughn
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In a thrilling documentary aired Saturday night on Radio Canada, Francine Pelletier revisits the path taken by Party Québec – long the most progressive political party on Quebec’s political spectrum – to embody, today, essentially nationalist identity.

Posted yesterday at 6:00 am

In an intellectual rather than political examination, we seek the origin of this change in direction set by the film in the defeat of the second referendum on sovereignty, in 1995. Sociologist Gérard Bouchard is most eloquent on the subject, while saying that sovereigns are still dealing with the “wreck of a failure the two referendums.

But he is far from being the first to make these observations. Already, in 2016, the new party leader, Jean-François Lisie, entrusted Paul Saint-Pierre Blamondon – who had recently become a PQ member after the “political orphan” phase – with the task of broad consultations to rethink and restart the PQ.

In his February 2017 preliminary report, Paul Saint-Pierre Blamondon’s conclusions were particularly harsh. PQ has become “frozen, conservative and aged.” The actions of Pauline Marua’s government were very different from its electoral platform, particularly with regard to the issue of the environment. For example, PQ was elected to talk about “getting oil out of Quebec”, but wanted to exploit oil on Anticosti Island, if it was found…

Paul Saint-Pierre Blamondon also noted that PQ’s proposals on secularism, immigration, and religious symbols caused divisions between older and younger activists, who no longer saw the link between secularism and identity. He also lamented that the party had done away with the humanistic roots of René Levesque.

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Finally, Paul Saint-Pierre of Blamondon said that “the discussion of the timetable for the upcoming referendum overshadows all other discussions, including those concerning the reasons behind the pursuit of independence”.

Today’s PQ leader, Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon wants a referendum in his first term.

The fact remains that his observation – in his initial report, the final version was less severe – is very similar to that in Francine Pelletier’s documentary. PQ is getting old and conservative. And his identity shift has alienated him from many voters, especially younger ones and those moving away from diversity.

If the documentary is titled Battle for the soul of Quebec If something was wrong, he did not take action to defeat the AKP which had almost the same effect as the 1995 referendum. It comes to the 2007 election campaign, in a full “crisis” of reasonable accommodation, when PQ finished in third place, ahead On Mario Dumont’s Action Démocratique.

The latter had taken the hobby horse of reasonable facilities and had led his party into the official opposition. PQ got hit on the identity issue and didn’t get it right. He will not be demoted again in this field.

Although the PQ party was the third party in the National Assembly and had no chance of passing it, the new leader of the PQ, Pauline Marois, introduced the Quebec Identity Bill that would establish Quebec citizenship. which will only be awarded among others, on those with an “appropriate knowledge” of French and Quebec.

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The bill was clearly unconstitutional – it would have eliminated the right to vote for some people, even if only in school elections – and provided for a three-year “merger contract” for newcomers.

But in this project, which died in the order paper, was already the core of the values ​​charter that would have occupied so much space during the tenure of the minority government of Pauline Marois.

A bill prohibiting the wearing of religious symbols by all state employees, even those who had no contact with the public, but kept the cross in the National Assembly. We know the rest.

But in order for the values ​​charter to have maximum political effect, there was no need for it to come into force. In fact, it became even more useful if the Canadian Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

Furthermore, the Minister in charge of the charter, Bernard Drenville, had to admit that he had never sought a formal legal opinion from the Department of Justice, as is required in the circumstances.

We can conclude, like Francine Pelletier’s documentary, that PQ made a conservative identity and transformation. But in terms of political strategy, the subsequent episode of the Charter of Values ​​and Attitudes shows that what the PQ really wants is for ‘no’ to be said. In this way, he hoped to inflame the widespread public anger that followed the refusal to ratify the Meish Lake Agreement.

In short, if we can’t get a ‘yes’, can a ‘no’ provide the reason?

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