It’s rare hearing English in the streets near my house. Less rare is the number of parades that march nearby. The St. Patrick’s parade offered a good dose of both occurrences.
Amid heavy snowflakes, eleven of us flyered on behalf of Québec Solidaire and our candidate, Marie-Ève Duchesne. When I heard a mother speaking to her daughter in English, I was all like, I got this.
“I hope you consider voting Québec Solidaire,” I said. “It’s the only party that opposes the hike in day care fees.”
“Awesome! We need that” she said. After chatting for 30 seconds, she asked the inevitable: “so, is this the anglophone party?”
“No,” I said. Then, once the word sovereignist floated into the space between us and mingled for a second among the snowflakes, she took off like a shot. It was as if I had called her mother an asshole.
The question about independence rubs many Québec anglophones the wrong way. Time may heal all wounds, but the messiness of 1995 lingers in the psyches of many an Anglo in this province. These battle scars are exploited, masterfully, by both the PQ and the Liberals.
The Liberal Party of Québec relies on the fact that many anglophones in Québec will continue to vote Liberal no matter how hard the party sucks. Despite the corruption that goes to its core, the anglophone vote is nearly a sure bet.
Casting a vote solely on the question of sovereignty gives the PLQ a free pass to veer much further to the right than I suspect the average Liberal voter supports. After all, if the vote is solid based only on the promise to do nothing on the question of Québec sovereignty, what’s the incentive to do anything progressive?
Anglophones who vote Liberal based on their support for federalism need to have their heads shook. What good is federalism if our environment is destroyed, if we can’t afford to take care of each other and if our politicians are corrupt? No amount of Canadian flag waving should be enough to hide the fact that the Liberals are promising to open private health clinics across the province. No level of masterful Molson Canadian-esque nationalist rah rahing should convince anyone to vote for Couillard, a man with deep support for for-profit, private medicine.
The Liberals win big when a vote is cast on the question of sovereignty alone. Average people: the ones who will see their day care fees increase by 29 per cent, the ones who will go bankrupt trying to afford a private retirement residence, the ones who will wait for hours in an emergency room, the ones who will finance their tuition fees through debt, the ones who will sit in traffic for hours, listening to Radio X being told that the problem isn’t that our city’s transportation system is terrible, but that all they need is an extra lane on the road (no one from Québec City has ever driven Highway 401 from the 404 to the 410 before, apparently); these are the people who lose.
It would be deeply depressing if there weren’t any other options to the Liberals, but to the left and the right, voters have other choices.
Anglophones who are concerned about day care fees should vote Québec Solidaire. Anglophones who want to have 24-hour access to their CSLC so that a sick kid can be brought there rather than wait for hours in an emergency room should vote Québec Solidaire. Anglophones who have enough perspective to see that voting in fear for the Liberals will actually bring more pain than voting to improve our day-to-day lives will vote Québec Solidaire.
And actually, anglophones who are concerned about Québec sovereignty should vote Québec Solidaire too. As the only party that believes in a consultative and broad process to develop a new constitution for Québec, QS is the only option for Anglophones who want to be included in discussions about sovereignty. Voting Liberal as an expression of one’s support for federalism means rewarding a corrupt party that values privatization, austerity and user fee hikes in the hopes to delay what will inevitably continue to be a political issue.
It’s no wonder that the apparent surge of QS seems to be scaring the hell out of the PQ, but I suspect the Liberals are worried about what effect this party might have on it as well. For péquistes, the presence of QS makes it impossible for them to pretend they’re a left-wing party. For the Liberals, QS makes it impossible for them to pretend they’re a left-wing party too. The only difference is that there’s less of a chance for Anglophones to shift toward QS because of the question of sovereignty.
However, with racialized men recognized as two of three co-spokespersons of the party, and as impressive Anglophone candidates emerge, it could threaten the Liberal Party’s dependence on Anglo and Allophone voters.
If QS keeps pointing out that the emperors are indeed naked, it’s only a matter of time before the emperor’s voters see that too.
Nora Loreto is a writer, musician and activist based in Québec City. This piece was originally published on Nora’s rabble.ca page and was republished here with the author’s permission. Nora’s music can be heard here: https://soundcloud.com/nora-loreto