Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We Need More Than Two Hands on the Wheel

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.


  1. Oh boy, where do I start?

    I'm not the biggest fan of Charest, but I'm certainly glad the ADQ has been sent back to oblivion and that Mario Dumont is gone, although perhaps not for long. I certainly prefer Charest over Dumont or ADQ any day of the week.

    As for him refusing a public enquiry into that whole mob-construction industry...honestly, what good would it do? How has Gomery served any of us except to anchor the most right winged PM in Canadian history and a scandal that just refuses to die a proper death.

    Then, the Bastarache commission, Bellemare, who clearly didn't have enough evidence to support his claims...but still, most give credence to Bellemare. Shows how folks' judgement is clouded.

    Besides, Pauline Marois isn't so squeaky clean herself, and neither is her party. They ran into the same issues as well. Pot. Kettle. Black.

    As for Quebec being more corrupt. Taken a look at BC lately? My co-blogger, Kim and sometimes my other co-blogger, Logan have been examining BC politics lately as well as many others from the BC blogosphere. Makes Quebec look like Romper Room. Wonder why Mclean's isn't covering them?

    Frankly, there will be no end to these scandals as long as candidates, MNAs (MLAs and MPPs in other provinces for that matter) and MPs weren't obliged to be beggars in three piece suits, because they have to raise minimum of funds to be in the game; as long as private funding is permitted, these scandals will continue.

    The only way, as radio host, Kim Fraser, put it was that the parties were funded by public funds. But, 61% insist on Harper scrapping the per vote subsidy. Can't have it both ways.

    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.

    A tad exaggerated perhaps? We still have medicare. We still have public education. Still have a welfare state. Last I checked, the Catholic Church hasn't come back to run the show.

    If the Quebec Freedom Network becomes a party, that will really bring back the Periode Noirceur. Ever hear Maxime Bernier speak? He does invoke a lot of what Duplessis stood for. Those are the folks to really fear.

    Yes, Charest got a majority, but staying home from the polling station was and is synonomous to endorsing him. It was up to the electorate to get off their duff and vote!

    I worked at a polling station the last election. I was right in the middle of the Universite de Montreal community, yet none of them came out to vote. It was only seniors who came all bundled up, barely able to see the table and needed help who braved the elements to vote.

    As far as I'm concerned; don't vote, same as a vote for front runner and forfeit the right to complain.

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    OK, the dark days of Duplesis is a bit of a stretch, but I'm a sucker for alliteration.

    With regard to your comment about the drop in participation rates during elections, there comes a point when the exercise looses democratic legitimacy. Foe example, in Alberta the participation rate was less than 50% for the last general election. Here in Quebec, we were at 58%.

    I fear that the day will come when we too will have less than 50% of the electorate turn out to vote and people will accept this as the natural order of things.

  3. 50 years ago, Quebeck was the Richest Province in the country. Quebeck was the BEST place to live and the French & English population lived in Harmony. No one was considered a second class citizen and we ALL most certainly were proud to be Quebeckers in a unified Canada. The FLQ and anti- Anglo Devil - group of thugs - that terrorized the population into submitting - to a FICTION filled C'est la fault de les Anglophones - PQ government - coupled with a provincial liberal party that endorsed and promoted the illegal Ethnic Cleansing - (go look up the definition) of the English language and thereby its CULTURE has decimated the Province beyond measure! It has been a 40 year freefall financially - and democracy and rights have become nothing but a distant memory - to those (us) who were lucky enough to have experienced what living in freedom and equality means.
    So please - both of you - stop it with this majority - minority government (in my opinion) insult!
    To allow the ERASURE of the English language - its instiTutions, MEDIA - Services - Essence and condone OUR community being STARVED Out of the workforce all these years - is appalling! Investors DO NOT invest in what's become the disgraceful ugly joke of the international community!
    And voting for ANY of the party's that have done nothing other than lead us to lifestyle and financial chaos - is beyond ridiculous. What we need and must demand - is political representation - that does NOT Create - illegal laws - enacted without our knowledge OR consent.. rather political representation - that HONORS - FULL EQUALITY including the ability to freaking WORK in English and/or French - and FREEDOM to make our OWN freaking choices!
    By the way - if anyone reading this - responds with the 'Save the French language lunacy'... I strongly suggest they go and do some legitimate research. The French langauge has NEVER been in jeopardy - and the ugly Anglo bosses - are nothing other than lies and myths foisted upon the people of Quebec - to turn them against their non francophone neighbors. The French language was in FACT - embraced - enhanced and promoted by the English community of Quebec. The ONLY discrimination in the Provinces history - was the French Catholic Leadership that brainwashed its FLOCK against the Anglo devil. It is high time this lunacy come to an end.

  4. Hi Didi,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Having decided to move to Quebec after the "pernicious" language laws were enacted, I understand but don't share your sense of loss.

    With regard to the unintended insult on my part, you seem to forget that Bill 101 was enacted by a PQ government that had a false majority, less than 50% of the popular vote, which begs the question: "would the legislation have been adopted if there had been a proportional voting system in place?"

    In other words, at the time of its adoption, did Bill 101 have the support of the majority of the electorate?

    If you respond "no", then it becomes ironic that the political institutions conceived and implemented by British would be later appropriated in such a manner to lead to the decline of the English speaking community in Quebec.


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