A provincial Conservative Party would give anglos an option

English-speaking Quebecers feel trapped into voting Liberal

Climat politique au Québec

Westmount resident Allen Nutik's current efforts to create a new political party to check potential neglect by Quebec Liberal Party of non-francophone concerns is noble, even if the practical hurdles might seem daunting. But where will his efforts lead?
Although he prefers to characterize his new party, Affiliation Quebec, as having a minority- rights focus instead of a just plain-old anglo-rights agenda, he will not be able to prevent it from being compared to the former anglo-centred Equality Party (1988-2003).
The Equality Party enjoyed early success when it centred on the theme of anglo angst. Nevertheless, like steroid use by an athlete, such a message offered a short-term boost with long-term problems. With a membership that spanned from left- to right-wing views, its members couldn't agree on much other than their mutual distaste for nationalist agendas. It was not enough to hold the party's original supporters together.

Whether you agree with Nutik or not, one can't help but appreciate the larger problem to which he is pointing. Because of the nationalism of both the ADQ and the Parti Québécois, anglophones and allophones (many of who might like Dumont's economic ideas) are effectively a trapped constituency of the Quebec Liberal Party.
One only has to speculate that if the Quebec Liberal Party were to decide to consciously ignore minorities; what long term consequence would they suffer as a result? Probably nothing, if the only non-nationalist alternative is a minority-rights-only option.
A more durable and practical option would be to create a geographically limited Conservative Party in ridings with non-francophone majorities, which could run on a platform of continent-wide, brand-recognized themes of less government, less regulation (obviously such an outlook would extend to language), free markets and more individual freedom. By being accountable to only those ridings, it can't help but be sensitive to anglophone and allophone issues and less nationalist.
Conservative parties in the rest of North America often have large rural bases that are suspicious of immigrants. But a West-End-only variation could brandish a "cosmopolitan conservatism" and thus be urban in nature. By offering a coherent set of values and principles, it could offer ideological stability that the Equality Party was never able to achieve without intense infighting. It need not be as isolated in the National Assembly, either.
Although he never uses the c-word, Mario Dumont's ADQ can safely be considered small-c conservative in nature, and thus a potential ally of any overall effort to reduce the size of the Quebec state. It is highly unlikely the ADQ will ever win a majority of non-francophone seats with a program that is more nationalist than the Liberals.
As far as language issues are concerned, an old American political proverb comes to mind: Only Nixon can go to China. (Some politicians can get away with things that others can't.)
An ADQ nationalist party backed only by francophones, like the PQ, is a tougher customer for non-francophone concerns, but is ironically in a better position to deliver the goods if they come around to agreeing on a language concession.

Contrast that with the Liberal Party urgently trying to re-establishing its own nationalist-friendly credentials. You can bet it won't put them on a path that will run through the West Island.
Conservative MNAs who forge agreements with the ADQ involving any compromise on the part of non-francophones will be in a better position to justify it to minority electors. They won't have to defend themselves against the charge that a nationalist party leader, or party whip, pressured them behind the scenes. If Dumont reverts to supporting Quebec sovereignty again, Conservative MNAs can always alternate to propping up the Liberals.
Of course, some majority non-francophone ridings will remain with the Liberals. Their MNAs should be wished good luck in pushing minority concerns internally. But given their growing appearance of marginalization - down to one anglophone cabinet minister now - perhaps the time has come for minority members to ask themselves: What do we have left to lose?

In the long term, the ADQ, I hope, will evolve into a less nationalist and more cosmopolitan party, allowing non-francophone small-c conservatives to jump on board.
Until that day comes, a separate geographically limited Conservative Party remains an honourable alternative, offering the dignity of a choice that is the lifeblood of any democracy.
Richard Smith was the president of the Equality Party Youth Association from 1990-91 and president of the Pontiac Riding Association from 1993-94.


Richard Smith3 articles

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Enseignant et homme d'affaires de Montréal. Ancien directeur d'Alliance Québec

L'auteur se définit comme un homme d'affaires «Quebecer» vivant près de Toronto. Il est possible de le contacter à l'adresse électronique suivante: rwsmithgqm@yahoo.com

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