Anglophones are citizens, too

PLQ - le parti du Canada... anglais, du West-Island, des fédéralistes purzédurs

It's a sad commentary on the state of Quebec democracy that Liberal stalwart [John Parisella felt compelled this week to use the opinion page of Le Devoir->auteur1400] to defend his party's success at attracting the loyal support of the overwhelming majority of anglophone voters.
Parisella, who served as chief of staff for Liberal premiers Robert Bourassa and Daniel Johnson, complained that there's a tendency on the part of many Quebecers to dismiss the province's ruling political grouping as nothing more than the "parti des anglais," as if its ability to attract Quebecers of all linguistic stripes were a fault rather than a strength.
And there's certainly a lot of truth in what Parisella wrote. Media commentators routinely point out, for example, that the Liberals ran third among Quebec's francophone voters in the last election, as if that somehow detracted from the legitimacy of both the party and the minority government it has formed, as if the votes of anglophones are somehow not as authentic as those of francophones.
Certainly, no one but the Liberals have made much of an effort to attract anglo support. That is perhaps understandable in the case of the Parti Quebecois, Parisella wrote. Its secessionist option is, after all, pretty much a non-starter west of the Decarie Expressway. But Parisella points out that even Action democratique du Quebec made only half-hearted attempts to attract anglophone votes, as if it feared that too much success in Pointe Claire would hurt it in Abitibi.
The whole parti-des-anglais notion probably seems preposterous to the many disgruntled anglophones who are still smarting from the manhandling of their municipal leaders during the fight over urban mergers and from their community's egregious under-representation in Premier Jean Charest's new cabinet - just one minister out of 18.
But in fact, the causes of their discontent are rooted in the same toxic syndrome that Parisella was writing about: The Liberals can't afford to be seen as pandering to anglos if they want to retain any credibility among francophone voters. Some voters, the suggestion seems to be, are more equal than others.
This is grotesquely unfair. As Parisella wrote in Le Devoir, anglophones are full Quebecers and deserve to be treated as such. Their integration into Quebec society, he wrote, is exemplary, and their votes are every bit as good as those of francophones.
Indeed, the real scandal here is not that anglophones vote so massively for the Liberals, but that they are still viewed by many as outsiders, as "les autres."
In a healthy democracy, no party should have to apologize for winning the support of citizens - no matter what language they speak.

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