The entrails of the recent Quebec election are still being picked over minutely by political pundits, professional and amateur, alike. It is apparent there are lessons to be learned in the post-mortem process by more than just the odious Pauline Marois' PQ brain trust, if such a collective could be called that given their lack of both brains and trust. This election held meaning for, not just Quebec, but the rest of Canada and all those that would presume to lead us. It was a 'teaching moment', to use the popular buzzword, for a whole nation and the politicians who want to lead us.
For example, the PQ learned that, thanks to our social media-centric world, the playing field has shifted enormously. Citizens of that province, particularly the youth, feel more kindly toward their fellow travellers, even those that look different from them, than their leaders thought they were. Maoris' and her three stooges, Peladeau, Lisee and Drainville, were also shown that playing the victim card has gotten old and tired; much like the hierarchy of their party.
Something else the Pequistes learned was the majority of Quebec people, despite assurances from almost every Quebec government in recent memory, don't actually feel they are under attack, linguistically. They believe French has a firm place on the continent and a strength that doesn't need draconian legislation to protect it. They know that bilingualism is not a threat, but represents much greater opportunity for young people in the increasingly global economy the young folks are a part of, despite the province's experiment in isolationism.
The old PQ leadership and those who aspire to replace them, have discovered this new generation has come to realize any government that works towards keeping people ignorant has no respect for its population. An uneducated public is much easier to manipulate and oppress but the prevalence of social media tears away that ignorance quickly. This is why Erdogan in Turkey, tried to shut down Twitter. You can't keep the kids on the farm when they see there is a great big world out there, you know.
The rest of Canada learned some things, too. It was revealed that separatists in Quebec do not speak for all Quebeckers. We now know there are people in that province that actually love being a part of Canada. Anglophones and Allophones discovered that being French doesn't necessarily mean being bigoted or xenophobic. In fact, the Quebec vote drove home the message that racism has even less of a place in government than discussions surrounding acceptable clothing does. By now, surely, all parties realize, even if for purely pragmatic reasons, that any party found to contain intolerance toward religious minorities, cultural groups or gay people will be discarded. Just ask the Wildrose Party here in Alberta what happens if the electorate sees you as intolerant. It took just a couple of bozo comments from candid candidates in the last election to sink their forecasted leadership.
One lesson Quebec Liberal leader, Phillipe Cuillard nailed spectacularly, is the politics of positivity strikes a resonant chord with voters. This is because pretty much everyone but professional pundits are tired of political games. Both Quebec and the country as a whole have enough challenges ahead without exhausting our resources and energies on fractiousness. We can do so much more with good will on every side than indulging in unwarranted distrust and nursing imaginary wounds.
Stephen Harper should take note from these Quebec results that the voting mass can be nudged in certain directions but not stampeded. Dishonest policies will be rejected because the populace has not yet been made apathetic enough to disregard what the government is up to, as the fair elections act demonstrates. The voting public is smarter than spin doctors give us credit for and we are watching far more closely than they imagined.
One thing this election did, however, was help both Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau, particularly the latter. It is likely that, had Marois' various ill conceived gambles actually worked and she had won the election, Harper would have had a cakewalk in the next federal tilt. It is improbable the rest of Canada would have been comfortable supporting either Trudeau or Mulcair to represent Canada's interests in the event of a separation vote.
Now that a staunch federalist is at the helm, however, who has sworn to work for the benefit of both the province and the country, (Hallelujah!) people who are occasional Liberals may feel emboldened to support Trudeau. As Canadians, we felt so good when the Quebec Liberals beat the pant suits off the PQ, maybe, they may think, it will feel even better to beat the starch out of Harper.
Of course the dynamics of the federal scene are markedly different than those of "La Belle Province". There is nothing that really resembles a conservative party there. Their parties consist of various choices of left wing and even lefter wing, with the Liberal Party being as right wing as the province gets. For good or bad, in most areas, small “l” liberalism has taken a beating recently and Quebec is no different. They opted for the economically focussed Liberals despite it being just 18 months after turfing them for suspected corruption. However, tax and spend policies have become a hard sell given the debt burden most governments are already struggling with and the public is tired of footing the bill for social engineering experiments of either the right or the left.
Even if just a single lesson is learned, the most important one might be that positivity can win elections. Are you paying attention, Mr. Harper?
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