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Québec 2007 - Résultats et conséquences

What happened two nights ago was a race to the bottom by mediocre parties whose leaders left no one excited and whose platforms were a muddled re-hash of worn ideas. As with all majority governments, this one was the Liberals to lose and they did. Voters cast ballots not for anything that was proposed, but for that which they least opposed. They forgot nothing.
Although most Quebeckers were tired of referendum discussions, Boisclair didn’t seem to get the memo. His case wasn’t helped any by his ill-advised attempt at obfuscation in calling the planned referendum a “public consultation.”
Dumont actually helped his cause with a “less is more” approach. Dumont gained ground by building on his image as everyone’s favourite son-in-law; the well-behaved young man who remembers where he comes from and won’t be dragged into the mudslinging of the Montreal intelligentsia.
His views on the one issue on which he led, reasonable accommodation, also reflected the frustrations of the 50 percent of Quebecers who live outside the Montreal metropolitan area and who feel that accommodations in the private domain should be no concern of the state; and accommodations in the public domain may have gone too far.
Looking back on the Liberal record, the amount of baggage is astonishing. Failed health and drug care policies; an inability to produce promised tax cuts; expansion of nanny-state regulations; no reduction in the bureaucracy; labour policies that brought more than a million demonstrators into the streets; the private school funding debacle and the daycare mess. To the broad public it seemed every file the Liberals touched turned to mush.
Charest even failed to get a bounce from the goodies in Harper’s budget by turning around and promising $700 million of that money as tax cuts. Dumont got more mileage by questioning why Charest had made federal money an issue if he didn’t need it for government programs. And Boisclair was undermined from the get go by Gilles Duceppe’s speedy declaration that the Bloc would vote for the budget.
I first got wind that something was amiss last fall. Charest’s Liberals were well behind the PQ in the polls. But I was told by several leading labour leaders that there was no way Boisclair could be sold in the regions and not to bet on a PQ win. “Le Québec profonde” was about ready to revolt — not against anglophones — but against the Montreal francophone political, media and cultural elites they resented and that they saw embodied in André Boisclair’s affects and attitudes.
FTQ President Henri Massé announced early in the campaign that though he felt the PQ platform was closest to labour’s agenda, he would not be endorsing André Boisclair’s leadership. The signal to the PQ was clear. Expect labour votes, but don’t hold your breath for labour work. And without that, getting the optimal PQ turnout proved well nigh impossible as the numbers showed on Monday night. What labour didn’t foresee however was the rise of the ADQ.
There was inner turmoil among Liberals as well. Several high-ranking advisers wanted Charest to wait until late April for a vote to make sure the snowbirds were back from down south. They felt that the two to four percent voter difference would be important in at least a dozen ridings. But most senior Liberals wrote off the ADQ and discounted the danger.
Dumont and the ADQ suddenly looked palatable. Though Dumont’s platform was none too clear on details, this election was a case of the ADQ’s hazy fudginess being more attractive than the clarity of the PQ’s sovereignist futility and the Liberals’ failures of policy. Some 36 ridings switched.
Dumont gave Quebeckers enough of an “optique” that he would vote with those who would renounce referendums on sovereignty (though no one is clear on what his “autonomy” means); that he would work to roll back big government and make Quebec more competitive (though he was sparse on specifics and wants yet more unspecified powers from Ottawa); that he would protect Quebec values (though few can define them and Dumont’s own comments about “our founding European cultural and religious traditions” are troubling) that they have entrusted him with the power to shape our purpose.
Dumont talked Monday night about the hopes of working people, the elderly and young families trying to make ends meet on constricting incomes and trying to make their dreams realities despite restrictive rule. The supposedly “right-wing” Dumont championed the interests of an economic underclass. Dumont raised hopes he dare not betray. For Quebeckers have sent a clear message that they will not forget.
Beryl Wajsman is president of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal, publisher of BARRICADES Magazine, and host of Corus Radio’s “The Last Angry Man” on the New 940Montreal. He can be reached at:

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Beryl Wajsman14 articles

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Beryl Wajsman is president of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal, publisher of BARRICADES Magazine, and host of Corus Radio’s “The Last Angry Man” on the New 940Montreal. He can be reached at:

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