Voices of a generation: What of Quebec’s Future?

By Kaoutar Belaaziz on February 5, 2009

The drums sounded in December calling on Quebecers to decide who was best suited govern.  As amusing as the rivalries were to many political junkies, the recent Quebec election did not spark much interest in the general public as he U.S. presidential election did. What Quebec needs are leaders willing to forget petty politics, abandon narrow  rivalries and commit o end excluding people. What Quebec needs is an Obama Effect.  

Dumont, the previous election’s big surprise, was young, energetic and charismatic. His support for Stephen Harper in the federal election  backfired after Harper, failing to understand the importance of the arts in Quebec culture stated he would make cuts to funding, and added insul o injury wih his omnibus crime bill. Dumont’s party of political new comers lacked the ability to reach out to all Quebecers, especially in the greater Montreal area. The ADQ’s performance may well lead to the party’s demise. 

Jean Charest sought redemption for his previous election where voters sent a clear message that they didn’t like the way Liberals did business. This time out he succeeded in projecting an image of defender of Quebec Culture. The once least popular Premier in modern Quebec history, Charest became a changed man. He won a majority this time a more humbled premier who was once seen as arrogant and unsympathetic. He even overcame unpopular policies that included spending cuts, increased tuition for university students and tax cuts that helped the rich get richer.  

Pauline Marois took one step forward for women and several hundred back for her idea of creating a Quebec citizenship based on perfection of the French language.  The first female leader of the Parti Quebecois  has served in public office for many years, She has been a role model for women entering the political sphere. The usually leftist leader unleashed a shockwave of criticism when suggesting a notion of Quebec identity wherein immigrants who do not acquire the French language will not be permitted to run for office, petition the government or raise money for political parties. She was suggesting creating a second class of citizens in this province. This left an aftertaste as bad as Herouxville. Marois had promised a change in the party, a party that would be more inclusive of all Quebecers. 

Quebec is a special province. It has a diverse population but the fears of the majority that they will soon become the minority and lose their heritage, language and culture are groundless. By playing on these biases, poliicians will keep stoking misunderstanding if the issues keeps being portrayed as us versus them. 

The issues that face Quebec today, and how they are dealt with, will impact future generations to come and it is important that he now majority Charest Liberals find solutions which do not alienate others. After all, where else but in Quebec can kids grow up with the benefit of being able to learn two languages? Where else but in Quebec can one see such an ethnically diverse population living together and working in harmony? It is indeed a unique province that will surely continue to grow and as it does it will become richer for its diversity.  


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