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Why This Anglo Supports Quebec Solidaire and So Should Other Progressive Anglos

Well, boys n girls, one week before the election. Advanced polling starts today. After the sparring on Facebook and Twitter with other Quebec Anglos who are progressive as to why the Quebec Liberal Party doesn’t deserve our votes and that yes, there is indeed a choice in voting.  Yup, I’ve heard all the typical responses. One I like in particular is that I am a traitor. Traitor to what? The ‘Anglo’ cause? My gawd, is that how we identify ourselves first and foremost? Seriously?  Federalism? I’m not exactly enamoured with Harperland these days, are you?

I know that Quebecers — Francophone, Anglophone, and Allophone alike, have often been asked this same tired question: Are you a Canadian first and then a Quebecer? Or vice versa. I have a completely different response. Yes, I’m a Canadian and a proud Quebecer since birth and an Anglo, but first and foremost, I am a progressive feminist who cares about social justice and is fed up with the coddling of big business, big oil and other such lobbyists. My main causes and concerns have been for fighting poverty, keeping health care universal for all, the environment, at risk children, seniors and of course, the plight of the working class.  I am also a union supporter and a member.   I am not alone (note there is a word document of Ms Ravensbergen’s letter, but I can’t seem to link to it here).  I am fed up of parties being afraid to displease corporate masters. Pauline Marois of the PQ did just that when she recruited Peladeau Jr,  dubbed the worst employer in Quebec and responsible for 14 lockouts under his watch.  Quebec Solidaire is a refreshing change: it is not composed of billionaires or even millionaires, lawyers, and other big business types. It is composed of community leaders and activists.  They are not expensive power suit people.  In other words, the image they project is who they are: a party that does not cater to the whims of big business, big oil and lobbyists; they seek to actually represent the people.  The average working class stiff, seniors, the sick and disabled, etc., yanno, the 99%.  A small piece of good news is that ; there are other Anglos catching on. There is a Facebook group for Anglo supporters of Quebec Solidaire.

As a rule, I generally promote strategic voting in order to keep the most evil of the evils out.  In this case, we have three main parties that are equally right winged, intransigent, pro-corporation, pro-privatization. Oh yes, and Peladeau Jr is on record for having said that he would sell Hydro Quebec in order to pay down the debt.  That will surely drive up the price of electricity.

While all of them say they will create jobs, they have shown themselves up in debates to actually want to cut jobs.

They claim to want to save health care, but what do they mean? Further expansion of private for profit? I would say in particular of the cases of  Franky Legault and Dr. Phil, yes, they are ga ga giddy for private for profit. Dr. Phil had actually admitted at the debate on RadCan that he would expand private for profit after being boxed in. After all, they have those corporate health care lobbyists to please. I wouldn’t trust La Marois neither with health care– especially now with Peladeau Jr.  in tow should they win and worse, he wins in St-Jerome.

All want to hike up the rates of our popular 7$ per day Day Care. Only Quebec Solidaire wants to preserve it as is.

Legault, Dr. Phil and La Marois all fight over each other as to who can be more fiscally austere, which in the end, increases human suffering and as Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz; two Nobel Laureates in economics have pointed out, doesn’t boost investor confidence. As Krugman had pointed out more than once in his writings, there is no such thing as a “confidence fairy”.  The debt! The Debt! They and the right winged chattering classes cry out.  I should point out that if we’re to discuss debts and deficits, those all happened under Liberal and PQ watch.  Given that Franky Legault held key Pequiste portfolios in the past, he is not without blame himself.  Charest, during his tenure increased the deficit significantly before his disgraced party was voted out of office.  Where did that money go? It certainly didn’t go on social programs, that’s for sure. In fact, he cut our social programs significantly and hiked up user fees.

As for the environment, all want to go a frackin’ for oil.  Dr. Phil is absolutely ga ga giddy for it.  Franky thinks our natural resources should be exploited more.  Now La Marois who was against fracking for shale gas while in opposition, now wants to go explore it on Anticosti.  Fracking is really not good for the economy. I have heard from people who live in areas where tracking is happening and they live with very poor air quality — it always smells horrible.  It is also bad for the water table, puts the production of food at risk and increases earthquakes which cost economies far more in disaster relief and clean up efforts.  Let’s also remember that if Fracking were so damned safe, why did the CEO of Exxon Mobil, a proponent for Fracking, join a class action suit to keep Fracking out of his neighbourhood?

It should be added that La Marois has intention to start a cement company in beautiful Gaspesie that would create only 400 jobs but cause a significant amount of pollution while (I heard) that about 1800 jobs were lost in the region of l’Assomption.

Therefore, there is no way for a progressive to keep lesser evil out.

While progressive Anglos I have sparred with have all come up with the same argument for voting liberal: No referendum! They’re federalist! They are best for Anglo rights! I’d like to explore those themes. At the same time, I hear much grumbling about how progressive Anglos don’t have a choice but to vote Liberal largely because of those themes.  Yup, they’re corrupt, pro-fracking, pro-privatization of services we have proudly built since the Quiet Revolution not the least of which is our health care system.  They serve only corporate masters and ask us to sacrifice so their friends in the business community can enjoy all sorts of privileges like lower taxation.  But by golly gee, they’re federalist, they won’t hold a big bad referendum and they are the only ones who maintain Anglo rights.

Really? If all this were true, why were they the first party to come up with language law Bill 22, in 1974, the pre-cursor to Bill 101?  Forget fun history facts for a moment. Do they really support Anglo rights?  What exactly do they do to support Anglos? The truth is that they don’t do more or less than the Pequistes do or have done.  However, we must keep in mind that this is a French province where we do have access to more services in English than a Francophone in other provinces like Alberta and BC  can access in their own mother tongue.  Sometimes, while listening to the staunch angryphones of Montreal’s west end rant on, I get the feeling that they want to force Quebec into being as Anglo Saxon as Ontario (west of the Ottawa River that is), Alberta and BC. By the by, I think we’ve all seen that the Liberals take Anglo votes for granted as they feverishly continue to court Francophone votes — a demographic they usually don’t do too well with.

Unlike La Marois, Francoise David actually does interviews in English and the Quebec Solidaire website with their program published in English as well as French.

Sure Quebec Solidaire is a sovereigntist party; there is no ambiguity regarding that.  Unlike La Marois, Quebec Solidaire have been very transparent on this issue.  Also, in an interview with CBC’s Daybreak’s Mike Finnerty, she says that if elected, they would hold an elected assembly with two mandates: To create a Quebec Constitution and to ask all Quebecers how they see the future of Quebec — within or without the rest of Canada.  Yes, Quebec Solidaire would say what they think, but ultimately, people of Quebec would decide (by the by, it was a great interview. I recommend you catch it here). Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, to hear the mantra of Liberals and their apologists, folks don’t want to hear of referendum talk. Well, not talking about it doesn’t make the issue go away. Quebec is indeed in limbo.  Leaving it in limbo is no solution.  I have said this many times before; something must give; either Quebec separates or it must be repatriated into the constitution once and for all.  The issue could and have remained dormant for years at a time, especially when the Bloc Quebecois was in Ottawa playing watch dog, but it always comes back like a boomerang. What Quebec Solidaire is proposing is very democratic.

Unlike the PQ, who’s raison d’être these days is referendums and Charter of Values — that big shiny distraction media love to flash around, Quebec Solidaire actually has policies regarding all things important to average Quebecers.  Unlike the PQ, who has decided to make the stupid move of being divisive and exclusive, Quebec Solidaire is inclusive of all Quebecers and they do try to reach out to all of them.  Oh, and as a reminder, before anyone goes all how Quebec is xenophobic, much of Canada really isn’t much better. Rachel Dacoste has pointed this out with linky Dinks to boot.  In fact, in the rest of Canada, particularly amongst Conservative circles, they can put Quebec to shame on that score. Remember Sun Media’s “lock and load” as a ‘solution’ in dealing with Tamil migrants coming off the Sun Sea?  I digress, but I simply wanted to make a point that we’re no better or worse on that score.

It must be noted that referendums on sovereignty have become nothing more than political dog whistles for both the Liberals and the PQ to use to exploit the voters. To scare them.  The Liberals exploit it to get the federalist votes, be they right or left leaning.  Like the PQ, they too tend to make it the most important issue in any election platform.  It’s a trap that many Anglo / federalists fall into.  Therefore,  the Liberals can and do get away with implementing regressive policies – because we allow them to do so, because, hell, they’re federalists and they’ll protect us from a big bad referendum.

On the question of corruption, Dr. Phil does nothing but skirt around the issue.  According to this Grope & Fail article, the Liberals are the only party that have absolutely nothing to offer to correct the systemic issues that cause corruption.  The Liberals have 18 candidates who were part of that disgraced government of Johnny Charest’s.  Largely in part, I would have to put blame on fearful federalists who will race to the Liberals  come election day. Is the fact that they won’t hold a referendum and that they’re ‘federalist’ the reason to give them a free pass on corruption? As Anglo progressives, we deserve better.  We should vote the only progressive option — Quebec Solidaire. Not saying the Pequistes are squeaky clean and yes, the same question holds to sovereigntists; because they are the main sovereigntist party, are you going to vote them back in?

It should be noted that in Francoise David’s interview with Mike Finnerty, she spoke of having chatted with an Anglo ‘left winged guy’  in her riding who was also federalist who wasn’t sure how he would vote. She advised him that he should vote for her and QS and then when and if a referendum comes along, he is certainly free to vote as he sees fit. It is what I have been saying all along — take the referendum question off the table when deciding who to to vote for.   I have said many times that we are voting for a government not in a referendum on sovereignty which is a completely separate event.

On that score, Nora Loreto had this to say to Anglos who will run to the Liberals simply because they are federalist:

Anglophones who vote Liberal based on their support for federalism need to have their heads shook. What good is federalism if our environment is destroyed, if we can’t afford to take care of each other and if our politicians are corrupt? No amount of Canadian flag waving should be enough to hide the fact that the Liberals are promising to open private health clinics across the province. No level of masterful Molson Canadian-esque nationalist rah rahing should convince anyone to vote for Couillard, a man with deep support for for-profit, private medicine.

I will take it a step further.  To Anglo progressives: take a long hard look at Canada now. If there is one promise Stevie Spiteful kept was that we wouldn’t recognize Canada after he got through with it. Indeed we don’t. It’s turned into a nasty petrol state where benefits for the wealthiest, the banks and big oil rule the day at the expense of the rest of us.  An intransigent, corrupt and unethical prime minister who has dragged this country down a path of destruction.We are kidding ourselves if we believe that Canada is a unified country. It has always been divided and no one has exploited this more than Stevie and his friends.

Debts? Deficits? It also bares reminding that Stevie Harper put us in the largest deficit in history.  Again, it wasn’t through expanding those “risky” social programs that the Harpercons so detest.  They put us through austerity which was and still is of no help to most.

Yes, we progressives can and will do everything possible to make sure Stevie does not win the next federal election, but I am a realist, with the unfair elections act, Bill C-23 (how democratic is that? About as democratic as his everything but the kitchen sink omnibus bills) and the newly gerrymandered redrawn electoral map, along with their unshakeable base and money, they can and would likely win again and further continue this path of destruction they’ve started.

I’m not saying that you should vote yes or no in a potential referendum when and if that may be. Again, that is a completely separate event and for the time being, we should concentrate on voting in a government that suits our best interests.  I was merely providing something to think about.

For those who claim that Quebec Solidaire is “communist” or “socialist”, may I suggest that you look up the proper meaning both of those words? They are a social democratic party.  If they were so pink unicorn unrealistic dreamers, why is it that Francoise David in leaders debates (including that of 2012 election campaign) always owns the other 3 leaders with facts, figures and data and pointed questions in a very calm and reasonable demeanour? Why is it that pundits, whether or not they agree with her party’s platform, proclaim her the winner of all debates she’s participated in?  Why is it that she’s the only grown up in the room surrounded by a bunch of hyper barking dogs?

I should also add that social democratic countries such as Norway, Sweden, and Finland have never implemented austerity. They have robust social programs that are the envy of the world.  Yet, they were never negatively affected by the recession? Something to think about.

For the above reasons, I am proud to have voted for Quebec Solidaire in 2012 and will not only do so again, but I have taken out a membership.  At the very least, Anglo progressives, I hope you will join me in not voting for the Quebec Liberal Party and Dr. Phil and voting for Quebec Solidaire and Francoise David and Andres Fonticilla.

 

 

 

6 comments to Why This Anglo Supports Quebec Solidaire and So Should Other Progressive Anglos

  • Jared

    Convoluted shit if ever I heard it.

    Stockholm syndrome is alive and well in you.

    Enjoy your zero rights in an independent Quebec while you shit on the community that built the institutions you benefit from.

    ck Reply:

    Stockholm syndrome? I’m afraid you have that in reverse. Get help!

  • Andrew

    I don’t think I’m your target audience (socially liberal, fiscally conservative), but if your goal was to change the minds of progressive anglos I think this essay falls short.

    While I understand the temptation, using snarky nicknames (Stevie Spiteful, Dr. Phil, La Marois) tends to be a red flag for people. Anyone who doesn’t already agree with you will usually become defensive at this perceived attack, further entrenching them in their existing opinions. At that point you’re just preaching to the choir, which doesn’t help your cause. If anything it incites more fervour & mistrust on each side, much like the PQ’s Charter of Values. If your goal was to incite division and rally the existing QS troops I’d say this was an excellent post, but if your goal is to change minds, using nicknames like this is a self-imposed obstacle. Even worse, it would be very easy to interpret the use of such nicknames as immature. From there, it wouldn’t be a big leap for the already-defensive reader to infer that the author is immature and disregard their opinions altogether. Your “No, you are!” response to Jared’s comment doesn’t help matters. You mentioned that Francoise David’s performances at the leaders debates are widely respected. You even touch on why – she seems to rise above the fray and makes her points effectively without attacking anyone directly. If your goal is to garner support for your cause I would encourage you to do the same. It seems to be working well for Ms. David. To be clear, I’m not saying you’re immature, but your chosen rhetoric presents that image. You probably have well-thought-out reasons for supporting QS, but look at it this way: I’m sure it’s difficult for you to take Tea Party supporters who call Obama “Fartbongo” seriously. Me too. Try not to come across as the other end of that spectrum.

    Choice of rhetoric aside, I disagree with you & the QS on many issues. Particularly the bit about sovereignty. Let me tell you why.

    If Quebec were to become independent, Quebec would be free to set its own rules. That sounds good in theory. In practice, being free to start with only a blank canvas usually leads to social Darwinism. The strong are free to prey on the weak, the majority is free to marginalize the minorities. I am not comfortable leaving anyone’s civil liberties at the mercy of public opinion. In an independent Quebec it is likely that the Charter of Quebec Values would already be law. I don’t know what you think of the charter, but I can tell you I’m strongly opposed. I’ll touch on that more later. The point is that without the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect us, all minorities in Quebec would be at the mercy of the majority. It’s not difficult to imagine the myriad abuses that could arise from such a situation.

    Another point on sovereignty – From your post I get the sense that you’re ok with the idea of a sovereign Quebec because Canada is in the thrall of the Conservatives, a lost cause. I ask you, why so little faith in your own message? With a smart, passionate leader like Francoise David at the helm, is it so inconceivable that your progressive dream could resonate across Canada? I challenge you not to settle for a progressive Quebec, but to push for a progressive Canada, strong and united from coast to coast. I challenge you to aim higher. I’m not saying it’d be easy, but if you have the courage of your convictions don’t you think that would be something worth fighting for? Please think about it.

    I mentioned the Charter of Values earlier. You described it as it a distraction, and I somewhat agree with you. I think it was intended as a wedge to distract from more pressing issues that the people really care about. On the other hand, it would be dangerous to dismiss Bill 60 as just a distraction; it represents a very dangerous precedent. It is the latest example of how fundamental human rights could be stripped from a minority at the behest of a majority. And what is it based on? Wearing religious symbols doesn’t cause any measurable damage of any kind. It is based solely on discomfort. A person who believes in their religion very strongly would be forced, under law, to violate their deeply help personal beliefs due to the simple, superficial discomfort of the majority. I say superficial because the law is concerned primarily with aesthetics. We’re talking about religion here, but what if society was uncomfortable with something else, like gay relationships or women breastfeeding? Is that discomfort enough to justify banning those things in public as well?

    Lastly, a few points on religion in general. I don’t know what you think of religion, but in my experience a good portion of progressives are avowed atheists. There’s nothing wrong with that, I’m not a religious person either. There are seems to be a vocal minority of the atheist population that thinks religion is stupid to begin with and that society would be better off if it was banned completely. While I can understand that thought process to some extent, I think that that is a misguided, even hypocritical position. There are many complaints that can fairly be made about religion, and I think most of them share one common theme: irrational or arbitrary imposition of will on others. Makes sense, no one likes that sort of thing. But if you are an atheist who supports legislation like the Charter of Values because you don’t like religion and would like to see it disappear completely, aren’t you just arbitrarily imposing your will on others? Some would try to defend that position by saying that there’s no logical need for religion, thus the imposition of will is not irrational or arbitrary. I’d have to disagree with that too, for the simple fact that there’s no inherent harm in religion either; any potential harm would already be illegal under existing laws. We don’t need a new law to prevent stoning women, that’s already illegal. So, when there’s no inherent harm in something I always err on the side of freedom. Why not let people believe what they want as long as they don’t hurt anyone? Again, I have no idea if any of this applies to you. If it does though, please give it some thought.

    Anyway, while I don’t agree with many of your positions I wish you the best.

    Respectfully,

    Andrew

    ck Reply:

    Snark is my modus operandi. Nick names are fun. I am not alone in using them. My blogging language is plain. I am not a journalist, nor do I aspire to be one. I am but an opionated woman who has little patience for stupidity who owns a website. Hell, I’ve had history teachers, in an effort to make history interesting, use sarcasm, humour and in some cases, nick names. I remember learning faster with that style of teaching than the usual monotone.

    As for Jared, it is clear he did not read a single word of this post or at least, probably ran it through some scan and score application. If he had read it, he would’ve known better. I’ll give him one point, Stockholm Syndrome is epidemic as our democracy shrinks, especially at the federal level. However, it isn’t me but rather, those who continue to vote for the same parties over again, expecting a different result. That, if I recall, was Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity. Stockholm syndrome in this situation, is what the masses are suffering because they allow themselves to be held hostage by a referendum that may or may not happen instead of trying something new and cross that referendum bridge when or if we come to it.

  • I am a Québec solidaire member and true social democrat and a disappointed federalist. It’s been a few years now. I have a recent Anglo ancestor on the father’s side (1829) and it means a lot to me. I am a translator E > F. My husband is Anglo. I live in the West Island. There are many people like me, who have family members “across the fence”.

    In Québec, we have a Westminster-style Assemblée nationale. I would want nothing to do with French-from-France-style law or government because human rights are not as well protected there. And they are FAR from being a model to copy.

    I think the gentleman Jared is a bit frozen in time and does not know what QS is about. PQ was a coalition of very different people (too different to agree on anything of you ask me). Now most progressives have left and the bluenecks are gearing the party. Marois is desperate (and a first-class idiot… people inside PQ are mad at her), and it makes the racist streak which was there from the beginning (and which I fought often) and unfortunately is there in Québec (with 49% illiterate people, all some of them can understand is PKP’s Journal de Montréal and TVA!… sometimes you wonder if it is not on purpose) very apparent.

    Good. Let’s get rid of that once and for all. I have been waiting for so long for an opportunity to work with all people who live here!

    Most progressives (true social-democrats) who were voting PQ have been betrayed time and again. They are just as neoliberal as the Libs.

    I suggest you read our platform. The sovereignty process is quite different, more democratic and without booby traps or “skating” with vague referendum questions and the importance given to human rights is paramount.

    Much more importantly, we have 3 Anglo candidates, Anglo volunteers and members. And people love and appreciate them. You would NEVER see that in PQ. PQ never said it but Anglophones are Québécois. I don’t like the narrow way PQ defines the We (especially now!).

    ck Reply:

    Thank you for your comments, Line. I volunteered for Quebec Solidaire in Laurier-Dorion to help Andres Fontecilla last Sunday for the very first time. They knew English was my first language and they were very welcoming and despite some trouble I had making calls (I had Park-X because of my English); largely in part due to inexperience and a difficult list of people, all were understanding and empathetic. I will go back the rest of the week and week-end to help them.

    I am also a new member of this party and proud of it.

    I did check their platform awhile ago and heard Francoise David with Mike Finnerty so I know of the democratic and inclusive approach Quebec Solidaire has toward referendum / constitutional question.

    I want to see Fontecilla, Manon Masse, who I met briefly at last Saturday’s Rassemblement at the Science Center, and many other good QS candidates get more seats for the party.

    I know of Molly Alexander’s candidacy and another Anglo is running in my riding of Mount-Royal for Quebec Solidaire — Roy Semack.