L’état de la scène politique québécoise

via Wikipedia. Cliquez sur l’image pour l’original.

Et merde! Pour plusieurs, je n’ai pas besoin d’en ajouter. La souveraineté est revenue de force dans les sujets de discussion. Tous les partis majeurs qui se présentent ont un agenda ultimement souverainiste sauf deux: les Libéraux et le parti Vert.

Il est clair pour plusieurs que les Libéraux ne sont plus dignes de confiance.  Ils ont également fait preuve d’une incompétence spectaculaire quand est venu le temps de gérer une crise, ou de capitaliser sur nos propres resources naturelles. Ils n’ont aucun respect pour la jeunesse québécoise, et ils ont une vision pour l’avenir sur l’éducation qui en inquiète plus d’un.

Le parti Vert lui, n’a malheureusement aucune chance dans l’élection qui vient. Il est proie à plusieurs méconceptions, la plus importante étant qu’ils n’ont aucun instinct économique. Après avoir visité leur plateforme, laissez moi vous dire qu’ils ont une vision beaucoup plus sensée que Québec Solidaire, et peut-être même plus sensée que tous les autres partis. Ils devraient tout simplement changer de nom pour se débarrasser de cette tache à leur réputation.

Ça nous laisse 4 partis majeurs qui veulent faire la souveraineté. La CAQ, le Parti Québécois, Québec Solidaire et Option Nationale ont une diversité d’ambitions à cet égard. Je peux comprendre qu’après les dernières élections fédérales, le Québec se sent plus à part que jamais vis-à-vis du reste du Canada au plan politique. Le Québec a tout simplement refusé de supporter le parti Conservateur, et depuis que Stephen Harper a finalement obtenu sa majorité, il ne cesse d’implémenter des changements qui font bouillir les québécois d’indignation. Les québécois sont soucieux de l’environnement et de la mission humanitaire du Canada à l’étranger. Ils ne se reconnaissent pas du tout dans la ligne de pensée quasi-républicaine de Harper.

Il semble à plusieurs que la souveraineté est la solution ultime aux désaccords politiques entre Ottawa et Québec. À moi, il me semble que les défenseurs de la souveraineté ont tendance à oublier deux choses très importantes.

Premièrement, il y a énormément de Canadiens qui partagent la vision socialiste et séculaire du Québec. Il y a effectivement un désaccord majeur entre le Québec et le gouvernement fédéral présentement, mais cela ne reflète que très mal les différences d’opinions entre Canadiens anglais et Québécois. Ces différences sont mineures. Rappelez vous que les Conservateurs ont obtenu une majorité largement à cause d’une division des votes entre le NPD et les Libéraux. Je suis persuadé que si une plus grande proportion des Québécois allaient visiter les autres provinces canadiennes, ils découvriraient que la majorité des Canadiens anglais n’ont absolument rien contre nous. Ils sont même heureux de nous rencontrer et ils sont curieux de notre culture et de notre langue. Du moins, c’est mon expérience après avoir passé 3 ans à Vancouver à rencontrer des gens de partout à travers le pays.

Deuxièmement, la souveraineté est l’objet du désir de plusieurs parce qu’ils croient qu’il serait plus facile de pousser leur agenda politique sans l’interférence des autres Canadiens. Mais qu’en sera-t-il de l’interférence d’autres Québécois? Même si la souveraineté se réalise, le débat sur l’avenir du Québec et sa constitution ne sera pas pour  autant aisé. On n’a qu’à regarder la diversité d’opinions des partis souverainistes pour s’en apercevoir. Oui, la politique au niveau fédéral laisse à désirer, mais la politique au niveau provincial n’est vraiment pas mieux en ce moment.

Je ne crois pas que la protection de nos valeurs politiques et sociales soit une bonne justification pour faire la souveraineté, simplement parce que nos valeurs ne sont pas plus en sécurité sur la scène provinciale que sur la scène fédérale. Une autre raison de faire la souveraineté est pour mieux protéger la culture francophone. Mais bien franchement, je ne vois pas quelles limitations le gouvernement fédéral nous impose à ce niveau.

Soyons clair sur une chose. Protéger la culture francophone est quelque chose que je juge très important. Ce qui est apparemment difficile à comprendre, c’est que ce n’est pas un objectif qui est en conflit avec la coexistence avec d’autre cultures. Pour que la culture francophone survive au Québec, elle a besoin d’être active, productive, vivante. La culture n’est pas quelque chose de statique qu’on ne fait que revisiter pour un brin de nostalgie. Notre passé n’est pas notre culture, mais seulement un aspect de notre culture. La culture est dynamique, elle fait partie de notre vie au quotidien. Elle alimente nos conversations et elle façonne nos inspirations. Pour ressentir un attachement à une culture et avoir le goût de la préserver, elle doit contribuer de façon importante à notre quotidien. Elle doit régulièrement remonter notre fierté. Les accomplissement du passé sont très bien, mais ils ne sont que lointains et peu pertinents pour la jeunesse d’aujourd’hui.

Je crois que la raison majeure pourquoi la culture américaine se répand autant à travers le monde est son immense diversité. N’importe qui peut feuilleter le catalogue des émissions de télévisions, des films hollywoodiens, de la musique, de la comédie et trouver quelque chose à son goût. Les Américains sont capable d’une telle diversité à cause de la taille de leur économie et du nombre de personnes qui contribuent à la culture. Au Québec, nous ne sommes que 8 million contre plus de 300 millions pour les Américains. Cela implique que nous n’avons tout simplement pas les moyens de diversifier notre culture autant que les Américains. Ceci pose un problème, parce la diversité des goûts d’une population ne va pas avec sa taille. J’irais jusqu’à dire que les Québécois ont des goûts culturels aussi variés que ceux des Américains. Comment alors s’assurer que la culture québécoise soit pertinente pour un maximum de québécois?

La solution est d’encourager notre milieu artistique au-delà de ce que le secteur privé peut fournir. C’est la raison d’exister de Radio-Canada et de Télé-Québec. Radio-Canada est une initiative fédérale, et elle est ô combien plus manifeste que Télé-Québec. Il est vrai que le gouvernement Harper a imposé des coupures importantes à la CBC à l’échelle du pays. La souveraineté nous donnerait la liberté de financer la version post-séparation de Radio-Canada autant que nous le voulions pour qu’ils augmentent le nombre de productions originales québécoises. Mais n’oublions pas qu’il y a un lobby anti-média publique très fort au Québec, et la souveraineté pourrait en effet nuire à ce niveau.

Présentement, les Libéraux, la CAQ et le Parti Québécois se disputent chaudement la tête des sondages. Peu importe qui remporte l’élection demain, il y a de très bonnes chances que la majorité des sièges soient occupés par des membres d’un parti souverainiste. Il y a aussi de très bonnes chances que la CAQ démolisse le gouvernement minoritaire nouvellement élu et déclanche de nouvelles élections. Ils sont ridicule à ce point. Les sondages indiquent que le Québec ne veut pas donner de majorité à aucun des trois partis. Ça devrait lancer un message clair. Aucun de ces trois partis n’est capable de rassembler les Québécois. La souveraineté n’est pas un thème aussi rassembleur que certains politiciens auraient espéré. Ils vont mériter le gouvernement fragmenté qui leur sera donné.

English version

Oh sh*t. For many, I don’t need to say anything else. Sovereignty has come back among major topics of discussion. All major political parties running in the current election have a secessionist agenda except two: the Liberals and the Greens.

It is clear to many that the Liberals do not deserve our trust for another mandate. They showed amazing levels of incompetence during the student crisis last spring, and they do not seem to understand how to capitalize on our own natural resources to benefit all Quebecers. They don’t respect the youth, and they have a vision for the future of education which is a cause for worry.

The Green party doesn’t even have a remote chance of winning a seat in the upcoming election. The party is prey to many misconceptions, the most important being that it has no understanding of economy. However, after seeing their platform, they do understand economy a lot better than at least Québec Solidaire, and maybe even better than any other party. What they should really do is change name to get rid of the stigma.

That leaves us with 4 major parties who desire secession from the rest of Canada. The CAQ, the Parti Québécois, Québec Solidaire and Option Nationale have a diversity of ambitions there. I can understand that after the last federal elections, the province of Québec feels more alone than ever politically speaking. It simply refused to support Harper’s Conservatives and since they finally got their majority, they keep implementing changes that foster nothing but indignation among Quebecers. Quebecers care about the environment as well as the humanitarian missions Canada have been conducting abroad. Seeing it all being torn away is painful.

It seems to many in Québec that sovereignty is the ultimate solution to disagreements between Ottawa and Québec. To me, it seems that defenders of sovereignty forget about two very important things.

First, there is an enormous number of Canadians who share the secular and socialist vision of Québec. There is in effect a major disagreement between Quebecers and the current federal government, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for a disagreement between Quebecers and english Canadians. Differences in opinions on many issues are minor. Just remember that the Conservatives got their majority mostly due to a division of the votes between the NDP and the Liberals. I am also convinced that if more Quebecers went outside the province to meet their neighbours, they would discover that the majority of english Canadians have nothing at all against them. English Canadians are happy to meet us and they are curious about our culture and language. At least, this is my experience for spending 3 years in Vancouver, meeting people from across the country.

Second, sovereignty has become the aim of a lot of people because they believe it would be easier to further their political agenda without the rest of Canada interfering. But have they considered the interference from Quebecers with different points of view? Even if sovereignty becomes a reality, the debate on the constitution and the future of Québec will rage on. We just have to contemplate the diversity of opinions of the secessionists to realize that. Yes, federal politics are screwed up right now, but provincial politics are not much better.

I don’t believe that the protection of our political and social values is a good reason to separate from Canada, simply because these values are no safer on the provincial scene than they are on the federal scene. Another reason to separate would be to bette protect the french canadian culture. But honestly, I don’t understand what limitations the federal government impose on us to achieve this goal.

Let’s be clear on one thing. To protect the french canadian culture is something very important to me. What is apparently difficult to understand is that doing this is not in conflict with coexisting with other cultures. In order for french canadian culture to survive, it needs to be active, productive, alive. Culture is not some static memory that we revisit every once in a while for a dose of nostalgia. The past is not our culture, it is merely a part of our culture. Culture is dynamic, it is part of our everyday life. It feeds our conversations and it shapes our aspirations. In order to feel like we belong to a culture and to intentionally preserve it, it must contribute in important ways to our daily lives. It must regularly give us reasons to be proud. Accomplishments of the past are all well and good, but they are little for the youth to identify with.

I believe the most important reason why american culture spreads so much is its astonishing diversity. Anyone can browse the catalog of TV shows, movies, music and comedy that is being produced over there and found something they can relate with. Americans are capable of such a diversity thanks to their enormous economy and the shear number of people working in the entertainment industry. In Québec, we are only 8 million people while Americans number in the 300 millions. This implies that we simply don’t have the means to diversify our culture as much. This is a big problem, because the diversity of tastes in a population doesn’t scale with its size. I would go as far as to say that Quebecers have cultural tastes just as diversified as those of Americans. How then do we assure that the french canadian culture be relevant to a maximum of Quebecers?

The solution is to encourage our artistic more than what the private sector is capable of. That is the reason of existence of the CBC and Télé-Québec. The CBC is a federal initiative and it is much more active and relevant than Télé-Québec. It is true that the Harper government is gutting the budget of the CBC across the country. Sovereignty would give us the freedom to finance the post-separation version of the CBC as much as we would want so that they produce more original content. But do not forget that there is a lobby against public media in Québec which is overwhelmingly strong. It isn’t clear at all to me that sovereignty would help there in the long run.

Right now, the Liberals, the CAQ and the Parti Québécois are very close in the polls. Whatever will be the result of tomorrow’s elections, there is a very good chance of ending up with a majority of seats occupied by separatists. There is also a very good chance that the CAQ dismantle the newly elected minority government and trigger new elections, just to get a shot at a majority. They are just being ridiculous. The polls indicate that Québec do not want to give a majority to any of these parties. It should sent a clear message. None of these three parties is capable of bringing together Quebecers. Sovereignty is not a topic as unifying as some politicians would have hoped. They will get the fragmented government that they deserve.

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3 Responses to L’état de la scène politique québécoise

  1. Greg says:

    Separatism is back! At least it’ll add some spice to Canadian politics.

    There does seem to be a solid logic to separatism. The best way to preserve a nations language and culture is by having a sovereign state of its own. Furthermore by having its own state the Quebec nation may obtain government policies that more closely approximate the interests and values of its citizens. The population and territory of Quebec is sufficiently large, and boundaries appropriately defined such that it may make viable state in North America.

    Presumably such a sovereign Quebec can maintain its sovereignty better than Canada has. Unfortunately, Canada has progressively embraced neoliberalism (Liberals and Conservatives governments alike) which has been eroding the bedrock of Canadian sovereignty to international finance and “free”-trade deals binding the hands of the Canadian government to enact strategic trade or fiscal policies that can lower unemployment and preserve the productive capacity of the country from foreign competition. While such sovereignty limiting deals were sold as a trade off for higher growth and better economic times for the average citizen they have accomplished nothing but decades of wage stagnation, high unemployment, unaffordable housing, trade deficits, loss of social services, growing inequality, and most-ironic low economic growth. Well some rich people got richer, but the average Canadian is facing modern debt-slavery in a low growth economy. All the while our government is giving up its sovereignty, which implies a loss of democracy since most of us don’t participate in the de facto secret parliament that is international finance. I would hope that an independent Quebec would be able to resist the neoliberal pressure to sacrifice hard won sovereignty, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on it.

    Regarding holding the country together I must admit it is a constant battle. The hopes that the country could evolve into a bilingual dual identity have been thoroughly dashed. Each year seems to put more distance between Quebec and the Rest of Canada (RoC). And why wouldn’t it? Under neoliberalism everything, including culture and national sovereignty, is reduced to mere monetary exchanges, where some “invisible hand” is supposed to take care of everything in this-the-best-of-all-possible-economic-worlds. That this soulless doctrine is described as “Anglo-Saxon” is enough to drive anyone away from us Anglophones I must admit. As an aside I hate the description of neoliberalism as “Anglo-Saxon” as if the entirety of the civilization of English speaking peoples is reduced to such a shallow thing. Even the Americans had FDR and his New Deal that laid the foundation for strong economic growth and increasing wages and standard of living gains for average Americans for decades. Historically the English world is so much more than that, but alas neoliberalism seems to obtained English hegemony and buried the memory of any other tradition. Repeat a mantra long enough and people will take it as the truth.

    Looking at the world map one will see very few truly bilingual countries, because it is very hard to hold them together in the modern world. The connection between the state and the people of the nation must be quite close in industrialized economies. Some have speculated that there lay the origin and necessity of modern nationalism. Canada seems to have legitimately tried to square that circle, but there are many forces that work against it. Add in the toxic neoliberalism and its attendant global crisis, the alienation between Quebec and the RoC seems bound to rise.

    What Quebec separatists should weigh is what will happen to the RoC and itself in the event of a separation. Because a Quebec separation will divide the RoC into two non contiguous entities the ability for the RoC to resist incorporation into the US will be further weakened (neoliberalism isn’t helping either). True extra territorial transit can be arranged across Quebec, but further separation over time seems inevitable. Quebec would need its own currency, currency unions between states with different fiscal policies is a recipe for disaster (see: the eurocrisis). I am unsure if Quebec would actually feel more comfortable within a North America that is one large English speaking state, rather than the status quo right now. For myself I favour the forever tensioned-strained status quo to the alternatives. Working towards regaining Canadian sovereignty (so fiscal, monetary and trade policies favour the average Canadian rather than international finance and their corporations) including Quebec.

    However, it is not up to me, and the world situation is changing faster than people know. Globalism is coming under serious strain, the economic promises have failed to deliver in a spectacular way. If there isn’t serious efforts made on the international level to correct the permanent global imbalances globalism wrought, there is a serious possibility of it unwinding uncontrollably and then its every nation for itself. No sign of any serious international effort. The fact that the European Union can’t muster European wide co-operation bodes ill for notions of global cooperation.

    “Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit,
    it matters not who makes the nations laws. Usury, once in control,
    will wreck any nation. Until the control of the issue of currency
    and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most sacred
    responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of parliament and
    of democracy is idle and futile.” — William Lyon Mackenzie King

  2. Michel says:

    All very interesting points. I would add a few things:

    “The best way to preserve a nations language and culture is by having a sovereign state of its own.”

    That is theoretically correct, but in my eye, what has been eating at the Québec language and culture the most is the constantly lowering standards of quality of content in the media. There’s not much to be proud of in terms of TV, movies and radio. That’s mostly all thanks to the Quebecor Empire, which their new programming each year consist of another low-cost, high viewership concept from the US made into a “french” version. I’m not kidding when I say they hold Québec’s culture by the balls. They own the majority of news papers, the largest private TV networks, the largest radio stations, cale companies, etc. Their lobby is very powerful, but at least, within Canada, they have Radio-Canada (CBC, which still does provide quality programming) and the CRTC to contend with. I am concerned about how much easier the game would be for them in a sovereign Québec.

    “I would hope that an independent Quebec would be able to resist the neoliberal pressure to sacrifice hard won sovereignty, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on it.”

    The neoliberal pressure you are talking about is being felt from within Quebec as well. Right-wing policies seems to be gaining in popularity and we have our share of trickle-down believers. Within a sovereign Québec, we would still have to fight against these mentalities, to a degree that is increasingly similar to what is found in the rest of Canada.

    “Looking at the world map one will see very few truly bilingual countries, because it is very hard to hold them together in the modern world.”

    It’s true, I can only come up with a few counter-examples, but Switzerland is a pretty badass one. Tensions between the french-speaking, the german-speaking and the italian-speaking are almost non-existent. Of course, this probably historical, the Swiss sort of pulled together to be stronger against their neighbours. In Canada, the french-speaking got tangled with the english-speaking by force. These are only two data-points, but maybe the sources of tension in multi-lingual countries are more historical than economical and social. One thing is for sure, hatred of the english Canadian have been fading increasingly rapidly in Québec. There are still a few trolls around who speak loudly, but there is a torrent of protestation following any anti-english Canadian comment, at least in public circles. The dislike of people who don’t speak french within Québec is a bit more open, but the discourse is getting better there as well.

  3. Greg says:

    I didn’t realize the power of this Quebecor Empire. It may be that I am out of touch with Quebec, or it may indicate that I am embarrassingly out of touch with modern media in general. My idea of a good TV show is Star Trek the original series. Mad Men and Game of Thrones has managed to catch my attention, but otherwise I largely forgot what TV is like. Not much Canadian content there either.

    I figured neoliberalism has infected Quebec to a large degree too. Nothing much lies outside its grasp now.

    I didn’t realize we could be hated. I thought everyone loved English Canadians for being perfect in every way. 😉 I thought it was more bitterness and resentment, not a Balkan-style hatefest. Outside academia everyone in BC tends to ignore or forget about Quebec entirely. It seems very distant all the way over there. Until transfer payments come up that is…and then the foaming at the mouth and convulsions start.

    Switzerland is an interesting example. Rather an oddity historically speaking. Their canton federalism and direct democracy system might keep any tensions under control. Lots of autonomy and democratic control. Little federal control. Might not be repeatable though. Could be particular to their fondue laden mountain fastness and their ridiculously high GDP per capita. Hard to fight when you are raking in so much of the world’s corruption money into your banks. 😉

    Obtaining an independent state may be the best guarantee of cultural preservation in the grand strategic sense with all else being equal. However, you may be right that the particulars of Quebec’s geography. economy etc. are that tactically it may be a loss. Being bearish on globalism, I expect a building nationalist backlash worldwide (more-or-less) to such a radical experiment and wonder how such an eventuality will effect Quebec within Canada. Otherwise it looks like the mutual disinterest between Quebec and the the rest of Canada can continue for sometime.

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