The worst kept secret in Quebec is now public knowledge. Premier Pauline Marois confirmed this morning that there will be a Quebec election on April 7th.
Since the start of the polarizing debate about the Quebec Charter of Values, the Parti Quebecois has never been stronger and it seemed to be gaining strength in the lead-up to the election announcement. It also seems like many pundits, political commentators and some of the PQ’s rivals have accepted the fact that the PQ will come out of this election in a stronger position, many dare to say they might even win a majority.
One thing is certain: if the PQ does win a majority it’s because they succeeded in framing a divisive debate revolving around supposedly “Quebec Values” without ever defining what these values are. Not to mention almost every single political party expect Québec Solidaire in la chambre bleue let them get away with it because they too have turned their backs on the values of Quebec.
So what are the values of Quebec? Did they just suddenly appear in the past six months, a by-product of the PQ’s agenda of xenophobic and ethnic nationalism? Are they values that could fit into an extreme laissez-faire economic agenda? Are these values compatible with the values of austerity? To all of the above the answer is NO!
The values of Quebec that all of the political parties claim to represent are the values that were brought about by the Quiet Revolution: the values of solidarity, of inclusiveness, the fight against obscurantism (the grip that the Catholic Church had on Quebec society), the values of economic equality through welfare redistribution.
During this time, the PLQ fought for free education. The PQ itself was born out of this radical redrawing of the boarders of Quebec society.
From its inception, the PQ was nothing more than the political representation of la Révolution Tranquille, a movement that wanted to transcend the barriers of the Duplessis era. An era which had pitted Quebeckers against one another, and instead create a country in which all Quebeckers, all residents of Quebec no matter their creed, primary language or vestimentary habits, would be “maîtres chez nous” (in English “masters of their own house”), of our common house. We would be masters together or not masters at all.
In the past weeks, I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the PQ pinning them down as “traitors” because of Anticosti Island and their green light to hydraulic fracturing, or because of their decision to raise the cost of daycare. The truth is far more bitter, today the PQ, by aborting it’s initial blueprint to build a progressive sovereignist movement, has become it’s worst enemy, it’s own antithesis, its own archenemy, the PQ has become the biggest obstacle to independence-more on this in the upcoming weeks-.
Without a doubt, the PQ has betrayed Quebec, but instead of focusing on a panoply of individual events, we should take into account the broader context. Once you connect the dots, an irrefutable fact appears, the PQ has betrayed la Révolution Tranquille and thus has betrayed the principals and values that gave it birth.
When these recent events are viewed in the historical context of the past forty years of Quebec, René Lévesque’s caution that a political party, such as the PQ, should only be around for twenty years is materializing before our eyes. The PQ is nothing more than a political machine, its sole function is to gain and maintain power and thus the PQ has lost its raison d’être.
The difference between the PQ and l’Union Nationale, the right-wing nationalistic party of Maurice Duplessis and the instigator of la Révolution Tranquille, is slim, if not non-existent. This polarizing debate about Quebec values has served its purpose: to allow the PQ to keep power through the normal divide and conquer device.
And in the long run it has hurt Quebec society in substantial ways. It has rolled back the progress gained during the Quite Revolution, given a stage to extremist, nationalist, xenophobic and even some openly racist groups. Unfortunately for everyone, if the pundits are right and the PQ does win a majority, it’s back into the darkness of la Grande Noirceur.
In the past week, an interesting article was published in Jacobin magazine by Mike Gonzalez: Is Venezuela Burning? The author argued that only a deepening of the Bolivarian Revolution would save Venezuela. Here in Quebec only a deepening of la Révolution Tranquille will save us.
We must remember the legacy of the Quite Revolution, which the PQ has shamelessly abandoned. La Révolution Tranquille is far from over and it is our responsibility to ensure that the struggle of Lévesque and Bourgault, of Godin and Miron was not in vein, because the PQ will not.
On lâche rien!