It’s one of those headlines that sounds great: “Anglos, it’s time to get over the 1995 Quebec referendum.” Yes, it is. Glad The Montreal Gazette finally realized it.
However, the paper’s Facebook plug of the op-ed revealed what guest opinion writer Lise Ravary only got to at the end of her piece. That fear of another Quebec referendum was “a bad reason to spurn Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ)” this election.
Fine, sure, it’s not. By the same token, fear of a referendum is not a good reason to spurn Québec Solidaire either. But there are several good reasons not to vote CAQ this year or any year.
They’re not an alternative to Quebec’s two natural governing parties, the Liberals (PLQ) and the Parti Québécois (PQ). They’re the same, only meaner.
The PQ gave us the Charter of Quebec Values and lost, in large part, because of it. The PLQ, who had campaigned against the Charter, brought in the absurd Bill C-62, turning bus drivers and librarians into the Niqab police.
Not to be outdone, the CAQ is proposing that all prospective immigrants to Quebec have to pass a values test. Women who wear the Niqab would have to remove it while taking the test.
While a “values test” is, in and of itself, a huge red flag to anyone who believes in cultural diversity, tacking on the bit about the Niqab is a pander to the basest instincts of the far right. Sure, only 50-100 women in Quebec wear the Niqab out of a population of over eight million, but François Legault is on the case and will make sure another 10 or 20 don’t sneak in!
The non-cultural aspects of the CAQ policy doesn’t differ much from the status quo pro-corporate stance of their main rivals, which is probably why The Gazette has no problem easing the fears of Anglos considering them as an alternative. They’ve been leading in the overall polls, too, since last November.
For years, I have been waiting for the so-called “national question” not to be a factor in a Quebec election, especially for the Montreal Anglo community, my community. I’ve also been waiting for a break in the PLQ/PQ cycle of dominance that has lasted over 50 years.
But not like this.
The CAQ isn’t change. They’re more of the same with a different branding, one tweaked for the far right. They’re the bigots Anglos, most Anglos, don’t have to be afraid of.
Yes, we should get over the 1995 Referendum, but no, electoral xenophobes should not benefit.