Quebec, ma belle

Here’s a confession, I love Montreal. I love the restaurants, the people, the feel of the city. In fact I love almost everything about it, almost. In less than two weeks my wife and I will be heading there to celebrate our anniversary, and I can’t wait. I already know most of the places I want to visit, some like Schwartz’s are obvious, others are perhaps less so. If Toronto is the city I’m married to Montreal is most certainly my other woman.

It is because of this illicit civic affair I’m of course pleased with the results of last night’s election in Quebec. Though I hope they never do, I’d be a hypocrite if I was to say Quebec has no right to choose separation and to forge its own path as a nation. As both a big and small ‘L” liberal it would be against much of my nature to say people do not have the right to determine their own way.  I could argue Quebec is as much my Canada as it is Quebecers. I could say when declaring their own nation necessitates breaking up mine they have no right  to do so.  That would be a denial of rights though. An idea, among others, Quebec soundly rejected.

There are no doubt a lot of factors which cost Mme Marois her job last night. I won’t pretend my understanding of Quebec politics is any better than my French is. In the broad strokes though as an outsider it seems both the Charter of Values, a name every bit as ironic as Harper’s Fair Elections Act, and the spectre of another referendum were key.

Some may say the PQ could be forgiven for being blind sided on the issue of a referendum. Marois made it clear she wasn’t considering it based on the results of this election. Too bad I say. If you are a separatist party you should always expect the issue during a campaign. For the party to do otherwise is as unrealistic as it is amateur.

On the Charter of Values, I was honestly surprised anyone in the PQ ever thought it would be a good idea. Quebec has long been a province where belief in the need to maintain a unique culture has been paramount. Why then would you expect that same province to support legislation which denies others the right to maintain theirs? It was always an appeal to people’s base instincts, their mistrust, their xenophobia, no matter how you tried to dress it up.

That appeal fell on deaf ears last night, and we should all be glad it did. When politicians can successfully play to people’s fear and their differences over their hopes and that which binds them, we all lose. Last night the people of Quebec said no to those ideas, for which we all should say merci.

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