Finally, a voice of reason amongst the hysteria of the Quebec election campaign. It is that of Tom Mulcair on Power and Politics with Evan Solomon:
But speaking on CBC News Network’sPower & Politics, Mulcair added, “We shouldn’t be voting on only one issue — we should be looking at the overall offer of political parties.”
I’ve been saying that all along at every Quebec election, but it seems to fall on deaf ears, especially amongst the Angryphone federalist set. We hear them moan, “I have no choice but to vote for the Liberals”. Well, boys n girls, yes, you do. First off, you must learn to separate (pun intended) electing a government and a referendum on sovereignty — two very separate events; separate trips to the ballot box. Right now, we are not about to go to a referendum on sovereignty. We are simply voting for a government. The good news is that some of my progressive friends, while Anglo & federalist, are understanding this concept.
Before I go on, I am going to tell you a story about my father and the 1976 provincial election. A year, when at the tender age of 8, I learned what a strike was albeit in the most basic terms. Just before that fateful 1976 election, the Cliche Inquiry was nailing Robert “Bou Bou” Bourassa and the Liberals to the wall. More importantly, at least to my father and his other teacher colleagues along with with the Common Front, there was a long, bitter strike. I remembered my father cursing out Bou Bou when he would come home from walking the picket lines or wherever else he was because there was no deal in sight. Bou Bou’s people were not even negotiating in good faith. All I remembered was his hostility toward Bou Bou and how he would not vote for him in the upcoming election. Later on in life, my father, a bonafide Trudeau Liberal at the time, who disagreed with the whole notion of Quebec sovereignty, voted for Rene Levesque and the Parti-Quebecois that year. It wasn’t even a case of voting in a sovereigntist simply to punish Bou Bou’s Liberals. My father actually had respect for Rene Levesque, at least, the early years until another long teachers’ strike would turn him off.
Fast forward to the September 2012 election. Premier Johnny had shifted the Liberals further to the right.
The Charbonneau Inquiry he did not want to have until public pressure dictated he do so.
He did nothing to improve universal health care. If anything, he increased spending in the private for profit health care at the expense of medicare. With the help of his then bean counter, Raymond Bachand, they made some savage cuts to health & social services; an industry I’ve been working in for the last 5 years. Yep, corporations and keeping a dying asbestos industry on life support became more important than the health and welfare of people. People in this industry who did great work, provided necessary services and cared about what they were doing were (and still are) at risk of losing their jobs. I never forgave Johnny Charest for that. Neither did many of my colleagues I had spoken to. Many of whom, not separatist and would vote ‘no’ in another referendum, but voted strategically for the Parti-Quebecois or Quebec Solidaire if they knew they lived in a safe riding for either of the major parties.
The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was his heavy handedness in passing Bill 78, a hastily written bill which served no purpose other than to stoke populist anger and strip civil rights away from people — the freedom to assemble as well as giving police more unchecked powers.
I live in a riding where trained chimpanzee would win if it had an “L” for Liberal blazoned across his mid section, so strategic voting is not applicable here. I will vote for Quebec Solidaire as I did the last time. Not because they’re sovereigntist, but because it is the only progressive option Quebec has at the moment. Contrary to what right winged Angryphone media tells us, the Parti-Quebecois had been veering to the right for a long time now, ever since Lucien Bouchard took the reigns of the party. Quebec Solidaire was born out of that frustration regarding how the PQ lost its’ original roots of being the party of the working class. It would be refreshing to have a party composed of community leaders and activists from anti-poverty, housing rights, women’s groups, etc instead of the other parties mainly composed of lawyers, bankers, CEOs and other elites. I know they won’t win government, but I would like to see them get more seats. To my Quebec Progressive friends, I ask you to at least consider Quebec Solidaire in the upcoming election. As for the worries of that Charter of Values, Quebec Solidaire is against it.
These personal anecdotes I just shared are examples of how we, as voters, voting in a new government and not in a referendum of sovereignty should take sovereignty and federalism off the table when they vote and look at the other offerings of the parties running and then vote for whomever has the best offer in your view, exactly as Thomas Mulcair suggests.
Dominic Leblanc, predictably came out swinging at Mulcair in a typical knee-jerk reaction:
“We were very, very surprised to see Mr. Mulcair, who wants to be prime minister of Canada, to not be able to say he supports the federalist option in Quebec,” said Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc.
Uh, Dominic, have you listened to what Mulcair said or should Mulcair have spoken more slowly? He was merely suggesting that voters shouldn’t vote based on one single issue, implying that whole separatist v federalist issue.
He, like many on the left and right, especially the latter, don’t get that at the moment, the only federalist or quasi-federalist (CAQ) options are right winged parties and the sovereigntist parties are centre / left winged. So what should a progressive do? I just answered that question.
With a few notable exceptions, the Harpercons are remaining mum. As they should. It is rich of Ex-Lax Max Bernier coming out in favour of voting a federalist party when he, hisself, was a former Pequiste advisor to Bernard Landry.
Perhaps we should heed Mulcair’s good advice here.