The Charest legacy

By Beryl Wajsman on December 18, 2008

Jean Charest won an historic third consecutive election victory. And he won it with a majority. We will not be among those indulging in over analysis of the numbers.

Charest ran a professional and polished campaign. It stayed on  message and was organized by a superb political and communications team. As nice as it would have been for the Liberals to capture more than 70 seats, the reality is that some 60% of the former ADQ vote went to them and they will probably be able to entice some of the now-leaderless ADQ deputies to the Liberal benches.

Jean Charest will not, in all likelihood, go against tradition and lead his party into a fourth election. So this is his legacy term. And he has all the tools in place to leave an important one. We would like to suggest his starts his planning by looking at a map.

That map would be the Island of Montreal. This island is responsible for two-thirds of Quebec’s economic engine. It is also the bedrock that has been the foundation of Liberal rule. The map is colored Liberal red from east to west. Except for a small crop of PQ ridings in the center-east, it has remained loyal.

That loyalty is not merely to a party. But to the ideas of liberalism. The ideas of freedom. Economic and political. Some six years ago this island’s population finally tipped to be more than fifty percent non-francophone. This island has suffered through decades of neglect. Part of Mr. Charest’s legacy is to give it needed attention and set it free.

Free from the statist rights-constricting rules and regulations on language that have made civil liberties the message and metaphor of the Quebec struggle. Free from the needless bureaucracy supporting unnecessary control society programs of social intervention. And free from unconscionable taxation that has stifled Montreal’s, and thereby Quebec’s, growth.

Three freedoms! What a legacy that would be to take with him, and perhaps propel him back to the national scene.


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Beryl P. Wajsman

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