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La Marois Is Desperate: Is There Anything She Won’t Do To Be Premier?

I’m sure most have followed the circus that is Quebec politics these days.  Premier Jean Charest is the cheese standing alone while everyone; right/left; federalist/separatist; Anglophone/Francophone are all calling for his head served on a silver platter these days.  Everybody’s singing oops! Sorry, make that shrieking  from the same song book; demanding a public enquiry into the Quebec liberal party fundraising scandals and construction companies links to organized crime and how contracts are awarded and all that shit. Here is some background into the scandals here, as well as Marc Bellemare’s flimsy accusations of how judges were picked which led to the farce and media circus known as the Bastarache Commission.

The online petition has quickly gathered 180 000 signatures, calling for Charest to just go away.

This whole Charest lynch mob is just another excercise in too much kool-aid and too little critical thinking. In short, has anyone stopped to think why they want a public inquiry? Why don’t you allow a chance for Operation Hammer to continue their work? Let’s be fair, they have uncovered f illegal activity; a handful of arrests have been made.  It was through this task force we found out about Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt and his alleged little brown paperbag contributions to Bloc MP Serge Menard back in 1993 when he was a Parti Quebecois candidate  and 2002 Quebec Liberal hopeful, Vincent Auclair.

Even the last ally of Jean Charest, the Federation des Travailleurs du Quebec–the FTQ are also now on the public inquiry bandwagon, no doubt anxious to clear themselves.  After all, unions are still the growing right’s favourite whipping boy. Here’s what union president Michel Arsenault had to say:

“Our members, and the general public, are unsatisfied by the slowness of the police investigations,”

Right, more evidence of that quick fix society.  Which is it? Do you it done properly or quick?

“Every day, there’s something new. It’s becoming almost a reality show — this whole thing.”

“Every day there’s something new.” Well, isn’t that the idea of Operation Hammer or any such task force or investigation?  What if nothing were turned up by Operation Hammer? We’d be hearing things like “See, it’s not working! It’s corrupt!” Can’t win.

Oh, and a public enquiry wouldn’t be a reality show? Have we learned nothing from Bastarache? It’s not that I have anything against a public inquiry.  It’s just that I’m seeing this more as uppity people who can’t wait til the Liberals’ mandate is up, than finding out the truth about corruption and other such matters.   It seems to me that the way politicians, candidates and political parties’ ways of fundraising, the way they do business and corruption with the construction industry and alleged ties with organized crime is not a Jean Charest problem, but a systemic problem. I’m saying that all those problems existed years before Charest ever came on the scene. Corruption in Quebec politics goes way back to the Duplessis and Taschereau years and before then with patronage.    In other words, if the systemic problems aren’t fixed, then the inquiry would most certainly be a waste of time and money.  And yes, Mme Marois, you and your PQ are not so squeaky clean yourselves. Remember that. So for a public enquiry into corruption to have any kind of balance, it would not onlyhave to go back way before the Charest mandate; it would have to look into the system itself.  This also means, that unless some serious attempts to change the way the National Assembly does business, any party governing would have the same issues, including the righties, whoever they may be.

I am not convinced a public enquiry will accomplish this. It will be yet another media circus where  the public’s mind is made up no matter what turns up, just like Bastarache. Remember, despite Marc Bellemare having his convenient memory lapses and inconveniently missing evidence in his accusations of Charest, the public still gave more credibility to Bellemare than to Charest.  I mean, what if the inquiry doesn’t either doesn’t turn up any concrete proof of Charest’s involvement or clears his name outright? Would the public believe that?  Would the opposition parties be satisfied? My guess is no.  I’m not saying Charest is squeaky clean; I’m just saying that we have no proof and I’m not convinced that an inquiry being played out in the media like a  Fox News reality show would be helpful; that it would be balanced.

Enter Pauline Marois, my favourite Quebec shrieking shrew.  Remember last summer she was talking about an attempt to oust Charest last summer ? Well, she’s at it again. She has called for a non-confidance vote for this Wednesday when the Premier and two of his MNAs were supposed to be going to France , thus making it possible to topple the Charest Liberals with the combined votes of the PQ, ADQ, Amir Khadr, the Quebec Solidaire MNA and the two independents to be toppled by a razor thin margin and an election would have to be called early in the new year. Nice timing, just before Pauline Marois faces her leadership confidance vote on April 15, which, I think is a foregone conclusion, she will lose.

Unlike Jean Charest, who has no one waiting in the wings to take his job (after all, who, in their right mind,  would want to take over an embattled  lame duck party? Even power hungry Denis Coderre wouldn’t wanna touch that one), the knives have been circling around Pauline Marois for quite some time now.  I had heard such PQ MNAs like the even more wingnutty Pierre Curzi or Marie-Victorin MNA Bernard Drainville’s names come up as possibilities and there are speculations, although heavily denied, that Gilles Duceppe may once again take a crack at it. So, we know what’s in it for her.

I don’t know what’s in it for Gerard Deltell and the two right winged independents, though; they have no interest in having the PQ lead and by the looks of things, there would be no time to cobble together a right of center small-c party to run  in early 2011. One would think time would be their friend. Pretty pathetic, that ADQ; the right in Quebec is gaining;  yet the ADQ can’t yield more than 10% of the vote, yet a fictitious party led by former PQ MNA, Francois Legault, Force Quebec, has 40%.  A sorry state of affairs for a party who’s co-founder ran into the ground like a petulant child.

Needless to say, Charest has delayed his trip to France so that he and his two MNAs can be present for the confidence vote, so once again, it looks like La Marois’s coup attempt will fail.

One question;  I wonder how many of the kick Charest out brigade actually came out to vote in the 2008 election? I seem to remember a very low turnout.  I worked at a polling station that election day and half the scrutineers were humped over sleeping on their tables, just to give an idea. I heard it was the same story at other polling stations across town. Ah yes, 56.5% turned out to vote; the lowest turnout since 1927 .  I have always said this; staying home and not voting is the same as voting for the front runner and frankly,  you lose your bitching rights.   Not impressed.  You wanna be rid of Charest and the Liberals? You know what to do the next election come 2013 (or sooner if Marois finds another way to execute a coup).

As for the rest of the Quebec population, would it be too much to ask for more critical thinking and less kool-aid swallowing?  As mentioned, the problem is systemic; not Jean Charest.   Decide what’s more important; changing the way the National Assembly does business? Or simply kicking Jean Charest to the curb? Because the latter, with or without a public inquiry, isn’t going to change the systemic problems.

4 comments to La Marois Is Desperate: Is There Anything She Won’t Do To Be Premier?

  • Kim

    ck, I see shades of BC politics here. Are the provincial Liberals corrupt? Or are they being subject to a hostile takeover by neo-libertarians? It sounds like you don’t think so, but can you follow the money? Sorry about the cliche, but if you can search political donations, you can make sense of the direction the party takes.

    ck Reply:

    I’m not enamored with Jean Charest, per se, but I don’t think he’s the worst premier ever, either. Perhaps ill suited for the job, but did the best he could given the usual made in Quebec challenges he had to deal with. I think, for a Progressive Conservative, which is Charest’s political origin, he might have made a far better Prime minister. He’s a typical red tory.

    The point I was trying to make in my post is that no Quebec party has been, nor will any future Quebec party, be they right, center, left or sovereigntist or federalist is immune to the systemic problems that exist unless someone dares to tackle the task of a complete systemic overhaul. In other words, the Parti Quebecois ain’t so squeaky clean themselves.

    Unlike Campbell, who, from what I’ve been learning from you, Logan, and other BC bloggers, is obviously unliked from within his own party, Charest still seems to have support from the QC Liberals. But then, as I’ve pointed out, who in their right mind would want to take over an embattled, lame duck party? I guarantee, no one wants it either from within or outside the party, itself.

    As a life long Quebecer, I see the pattern continues; when the QC Liberals have been deemed to have governed for too long, and in the case of Charest, he is in a third consecutive term; a feat no QC gov’t in history has accomplished since Maurice Duplessis and the Union Nationale; too long for any uppity separatist to stand. If not for Bellemare, Bastarache commission, the construction industry and all that, it would have had to have been invented. The Common Front isn’t having a general strike these days; most if not all have signed new collective agreements; that’s out of the way. Bill 115 (language law) isn’t enough of a crisis. Then there was that gawd awful budget with proposed 25$ per visit to the health care system, but that was struck down not long ago, thanks to special interest groups and grass roots movements taking the streets and protesting. There is still the end of year health care contribution, but nearly every province has one these days…so not reinventing the wheel here.

    And yes, the neo-libertarians, in the form of the new Quebec tea-partiers; The Reseau Liberte Quebec-Quebec Freedom Network (not a party–yet!), as well as another so-called movement, Force Quebec which is hypothetical and mythical, as well as none other than Mad Max Bernier, would love to take over the province of Quebec; but not the Liberals, but some rainbow small-c coalition. That makes my skin crawl to say the least. Rumours are a flyin’ indeed.

    The cynic in me has got to hand it to Charest though; you know how centrist politicians do what they can to hug the center by trying to please all of them? Well Charest tends to do stuff that pisses everyone off. Bill 115 is one such example.

    Another thing to remember; The Bloc has distanced themselves from Charest’s troubles. Although, Charest did campaign for them in the 2008 federal election. I think that’s what got a lot of federalists pissed off with him. But I also believe that Duceppe may well be after Marois’s job and may be priming himself to leave the Bloc sometime in 2011. Marois will not win her leadership confidence vote this April.

    So far, Stevie spiteful has stayed out of it, but there has never been any love lost between Charest and Stevie Harper. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear if any flunky acting on behalf of Stevie to tank Charest were involved. Once upon a time, before this mess began, Charest was seen as a potential successor to Harper for the Conservatives and according to pollsters back in the day, a politician who could get a majority. Not anymore now, of course. Still, I’m sure somewhere, Stevie is getting a chuckle of this.

    Don’t apologize. It’s not a cliche. The systemic problems are a cliche. The fundraising problems exist in federal politics too. They’re turned into beggars in 3 piece suits because they must raise certain quotas. Hello corruption.

    A good start to fixing the problem would be a total ban on private funding and having the parties funded entirely by public money, but over 60% of Canadians are even against the 1.95$ per vote subsidy. Shows how short sighted they are. They bitch at the corruption but slam an idea that would be helpful in curbing it.

  • Claude Boucher

    CK, in substance, you’re asking: Are Quebecers drinking the kool-aid?

    With all due respect, I disagree. Far from it. In fact, inquiries have been used many times in Quebec politics to clean up corruption scandals in the past and and have led to institutional reforms. Take the Salvas Commission in 1962, the Cliche, Keable commissions and the CECO in the 70s.

    Yes, commissions turn to circuses. That’s fine. Sunlight can be an effective disinfectant for the many chamber of commerce-sponsored tinpot despots populating city halls, their contractor friends, and their contacts in the underworld.

    I could go on and on on why a commission is better than relying exclusively on police work, but ask yourself one thing? Why Charest is so adamant about not having a commission? Follow the money…

    In fact, if you’re serious about political financing reform in Quebec, an inquiry is the way to expose shady money in politics as a problem. I’m personally in favor of Drainville-Girard-Marceau proposal to limit political contribution to bona fide members of parties (with a $100 ceiling), to finance parties by cancelling the tax refund for political contributions and to use the sum to finance the parties directly, which makes it revenue-neutral.

    A commission of inquiry is inevitable. It’s now, or in two years time. Pauline Marois is not desperate. She has Charest exactly where she wants him. In the ropes.

    ck Reply:

    Claude, Thank you for commenting in English. I would ordinarily return the favour by responding in French, but I’m nursing a head-ache right now and thinking in my second language would make it more painful. I hope you can forgive me.

    We can write novels speculating why Charest wouldn’t want a commission, but we can’t rule out that this is an age of “gotcha” politics. As mentioned, Bastarache was one such commission. If one paid any attention, Bellemare had little credibility; he just came off as a disgruntled man who’s political career failed. Questions to be asked: Why did he wait all those years? And then the refusals to testify, memory lapses, lack of evidence, etc., yet the public already had it’s mind made up for them by the media. We live in an age, as you know, where misinformation is more powerful than the actual truth.

    I’m saying the PQ isn’t squeaky clean, neither; they just didn’t get caught. If the construction companies are involved with organized crime as well. Construction crimes and alleged ties to mobsters wouldn’t be a new thing; that would date back many, many years. If there is to be an inquiry, it would have to go back all those years.

    I’m also saying that if you simply remove Jean Charest, the construction industry and alleged mobster links wouldn’t magically disappear neither, meaning whether the PQ or some right winged small-c coalition took over, they too, would be mired with the same problems.

    I’m also in favour of Drainville-Girard-Marceau proposal–it’s a start. Although, I’m of the opinion that there should be no private financing of parties; they should be funded publicly, entirely. A better step to make them accountable to the people they govern. But, the proposal is a great start, I’ll give you that.

    Marois is desperate because she wants to be premier more than finding the truth; more than anything else. Look back in this woman’s history as health minister or other ministries she held when the PQ were in power; noiseless toilets and buying out doctors and nurses’ contracts, thus closing smaller community hospitals come to mind, and gawd whatever else we don’t know. I’m saying the woman isn’t squeaky clean herself. She is desperate because as you know, she faces a leadership confidence vote April 15, 2011. Surely, you must have noticed the knives circling around her. As a leader, her polling numbers suck; party elders like Jacques Parizeau and Bernard Landry have zero confidance in her ability; while they may no longer be MNAs, I’m sure what they say withing that party hold a lot of weight. She will be gone and someone else will replace her.

    In fact, I daresay she’s probably more desperate than Charest would be in a sense; Charest is a smart man; he sees the writing on the wall, surely; he knows that he and his party are lame ducks. I’m sure he himself wants to just get out of dodge, but looking for a way out.

    As for Marois, I had always been of the belief that when she was asked to come back to the PQ in 2007 to bring the broke third place party back out of its’ slump, I believe they never intended for her to be premier, only to bring the party back up. Remember, Gilles Duceppe wanted to throw his hat into the ring, but backed out? Apparently, he was told that he was still needed in Ottawa.