Almost two years ago, Jean Charest the leader of a minority government in Quebec decided to call a general election to take advantage of a significant drop in the polls of the official opposition, the Action Democratic of Quebec. Our dysfunctional electoral system is unforgiving for political parties whose support is a mile wide but an inch deep. A 15 point drop in the popular vote reduced the number of ADQ seats in the National Assembly from 41 to 7. As a result, the Charest-led Liberals formed a majority government with the support of only 23% of the electorate.
During the campaign, which was launched at the onset of the Great Recession, Charest's slogan was that in troubled times, Quebec needed to have just two hands on the wheel. Two years later is there anyone -- other than die hard Quebec Liberal Party supporters -- that believes that Quebec is better off now that we have a false majority government rather than a minority government that depended on the support of another party to maintain a government.
Essentially, the incontestable control and political power Charest now enjoys means that he can effectively tell the rest of the population to go to hell with regard to holding a public inquiry into the link between the construction industry and the financing of political parties in Quebec. This would not be the case if we had a minority government or a majority coalition.
We thought that things had come to a head with the publication of an edition of Macleans magazine that claimed Quebec was the most corrupt province in Canada. The claim seemed to be dismissed in the media as another instance of Quebec bashing.
Well, a few weeks later we learn that a vast majority of appointees to the Boards of Directors to Quebec's crown corporations made financial donations to the Quebec Liberal Party. In the case of the most important, Hydro Quebec, 85% of the Board had contributed to the Liberals. No surprise that they would approve the award of approximately $800 million in contracts to the family businesses of Franco Fava, one of the Liberal Party's principle fundraisers.
Worse yet, new revelations have come to light. According to Montreal journalists, André Noël and André Cédilot, more than 600 businesses pay Mafia protection money in Montreal alone, handing organized crime leaders an unprecedented degree of control of Quebec's economy.
When questioned in the National Assembly, Charest made another pathetic reference to
his laughable Operation Hammer, and allowing the police squad, Quebec's answer to the Keystone cops, to do its job.
Without question, Quebec has come full circle to find itself exactly where it was 50 years ago. Charest has undone the work of Jean Lesage,and we have returned to the dark days of Duplesis.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Voting out the Liberals will only treat the symptoms and not the cause of the problem. What underlies the manifestation of corruption and influence peddling is a political system that in effect places the control of the province's political machinery in the hands of the Premier.
From time to time, one of those hands slips into the public purse to provide support for one of his friends.
Therefore, what needs to be done is to bring more hands to the helm in order to share political power and the place to start is the electoral system. The abuse of power begins with the abuse of each voter whose vote is simply discarded and not used to determine who will seize power in Quebec, Canada, and all other countries which use a plurality voting system.