Off, off, and away (If we could only hope)
Alongtime ago, you could watch horse races in two locations in Montreal: the main event being at Blue Bonnets and the lower one at the defunct Richelieu racetrack, way, way back East, during the summer.
We’ll admit that as a non-better, the summer heat at Richelieu provided a better show than at Blue Bonnets. At Richelieu you were either on your last legs or trying to prove yourself, as in this summer election where two old warriors, Jean Charest of the Liberals was admitted to the Bar the year that Péquiste Pauline Marois was first elected, are running against a recycled horse, former PQ minister François Legault with the rebranded ADQ of Mario Dumont, now renamed Coalition Avenir Québec, l’équipe François Legault is the favorite to be in the winner’s circle, add Québec Solidaire who must crack the “We are so marginal that we can never be elected” starting gate position and dark horse Option Nationale Jean-Marie Aussant who seems to have the backing of the Parizeau clan, as of yesterday.
As there are fifteen other authorized parties, we can expect that in some ridings we will have accordion folded ballots. The price of democracy we must assume. Missing will be the Communist Party of Quebec. They could not muster the one hundred (as in 100) names necessary to be recognized this year. But then they may or may not be automatically members of Quebec Solidaire.
As elections go, this one is a strange one. It’s the end result of the Sherbrooke M.N.A.’s stubbornness in refusing to face head on the allegations of corruption that have been in the air for the last two years. He now faces the real start of the Charbonneau inquiry on corruption, in mid-September, and it doesn’t seem that it will be kind to the Liberal Party.
The inquiry won’t hurt the Premier, or the other Liberal M.N.A.’s, apart from one bad apple, they are as clean as can be. But the bad apple case, Tony Tomassi to name him, left a sour taste in the mouth of the public. Rather than acting spitting fast, Premier Charest waited a bit… Those waiting bits are now haunting him. Not counting the side shows, all legal: The $75,000 a year ‘salary’ from the Liberal Party, the still murky deal on the rental of his summer cottage in North Hatley, it seems as if, rather than trying to look honest, as he is, he would try anything to look like a crook. And, let’s be honest, for all of their trying, the opposition and the media have never been able to prove that he is one. Still, it lingers. And it seems to stick. Helping the so called newcomer François Legault was the shockwave of recruiting Jacques Duchesneau, the first star witness of the Charbonneau inquiry, who admitted that the final straw for his jumping on board the CAQ was Mr. Charest’s boast that he was giving himself an 8 out of 10 note. Modesty in this case would have been golden.
So, the result is that, in Sherbrooke, his own riding, he is losing badly to the Parti Québécois and that, province-wide, the Liberals are trailing badly in all ‘francophone’ ridings; a very steep hill to climb to victory.
Madame Marois, I find it ironic that you have chosen the slogan “À nous de choisir” for your election campaign while interfering with the rights of students to decide their language of CEGEP instruction themselves. I am a francophone, I believe in the importance of preserving our language and working for its advancement. This said, I believe being forced to cocoon ourselves is the wrong path. We need to promote the French culture, not forbid our young people to explore other languages and cultures. I am not the only one to think this way; your own candidate Léo Bureau Blouin, has spoken against this measure. We are lucky to have Champlain College, a CEGEP that offers English education, in our region. I had the privilege of studying there a few years ago. I say privileged, because mastering the English language is an advantage I have, be it in business or simply for personal enrichment. Does your candidate in SaintFrancois, Réjean Hébert support your proposition? What does the future hold for Champlain College, which welcomes a large percentage of francophones who desire to master the language of Shakespeare? Finally, a few months ago the Parti Quebecois spoke about lowering the voting age to 16. How can you possibly explain the contradiction of letting a 16-year old choose a government, but not to freely decide their language of instruction?