The Politics of Fear, Quebec Style

With Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois calling Swift Current intellectual/recent prairie dog Type-O-Wiener winner/Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall (I think) either a one-pot dish common in provincial France or an animated Disney movie featuring foodie mice living in Paris, the Quebec election has degenerated into a farce more worthy of Jerry Lewis than Moliere (Brad, if you’re reading this, you’ve been called worse things by better people). If someone who usually covers Regina City Hall was on the PQ’s campaign camion, her or she would be looking to see how Chad Novak has become a senior strategist with the party.

It is a beautiful, elegant, slow-motion train wreck, this Quebec election.

After the election, the PQ shouldn’t entrust Mme. Marois with a pair of garden shears, let alone with the right to guide the destiny of nine million people, or the future of whatever is left of the badly split, badly mauled organization. It is now shattered across the political spectrum like an abandoned outhouse struck by chain lightning; its labour/activist/left retreating into Quebec Solidaire, another faction following its so-called star candidate, Pierre Karl Peladeau, the way Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi once had supporters, and the rest mutating into something closer to the Creditistes of Real Caouette, or something closer to the Petain government of Vichy France.

First of all, making the so-called values charter an integral part of the PQ platform seems to have, intellectually, converted the party into something closer into the Wild Rose Alliance’s attitudes towards social policies during the last Alberta election – one which left the WRA exposed as a bunch of white supremacist redneck mouthbreathers afraid of anyone darker-skinned, more Jewish or Hindu or gayer or whatever than they were.

And then the PQ brought in Pierre Karl Peladeau, the playboy son of the founder of the Quebecor media empire. If the PQ wanted to show Quebecers that they could attract businessmen who could mind the shop in the new nation, Peladeau — protected by not only the old man’s money, but thanks to cable TV and the CRTC, a government-protected business monopoly – would not make that short list. Peladeau’s involvement with the PQ has almost certainly alienated the labour and academic left within the PQ, since Mr. Peladeau’s attitude towards the working person is scarcely more enlightened than WalMart’s, either in his medias’ editorial policy or in the way he treats his own employees. Combine that with an unstable campaign presence and an impression he’s in it to feed his own ego, and it’s apparent that what was supposed to be the party’s star candidate has instead turned into an embarrassment machine on two legs.

Then again, compared to some of the twits running under the PQ campaign banner, Peladeau is a genius. One gives a mealy-mouthed apology after repeating anti-Semitic blood libels, another insults the religion of Mohammed, and Marios herself provokes a public fight with the provincial elections agency over the convoluted possibility of Ontario students voting in the election, and then getting into the aforementioned public urination fight with Premier Wall. And, to top it all off, former PQ leader Andre Bosclair was found to have received a government job at $170K a year, for doing absolutely nothing. I would like one of those jobs. The financial institutions to whom I owe money would like me to have one of those jobs.

So, of course, it becomes the voters’ fault. Quebec’s electoral commission is now appearing hell-bent on eliminating as many non ‘pure laine’ voters from eligibility as they can in the run-up to the election. In fact, the leader of Quebec’s Green Party is ruled eligible to be a candidate in the election … but he’s not eligible to vote.

If there’s one thing in common with the way the Parti Quebecois is running its campaign (notwithstanding PKP’s involvement), it’s paranoia. The enemy is everywhere: in the anglophone minority, long removed from the days of the dominant culture during the Duplessis era, in the faces of immigrants from around the world, in other Canadians, be they premiers or just average Joes and Janes (it’s also the way Stephen Harper’s Conservatives see the world, so this paranoia isn’t indigenous to Quebec politics).

But this is a telling tale for the endgame of the Politics of Fear: it’s easy to get so paranoid that no one with half a mind wants to live in the fantasy world you have created. Mme. Marois can’t run a campaign, so there’s little reason she would be able to run a province or a nation any better.

Author: Stephen LaRose

2006 winner of the Canadian Association of University Teachers's Award of Excellence in Journalism for a bunch of prairie dog stuff. Invited into the best homes in Regina. Once.

7 thoughts on “The Politics of Fear, Quebec Style”

  1. But she did run an election, won, and has been running a province since Sept 2012. Today is her birthday. She turns 65. I think it’s safe to underestimate her, as safe as it is to underestimate just about every modern-day politician including Brad Wall, who’s done nothing ‘amazing’ ever and coasts comfortable on resource revenue. I don’t know or care too much about this particular election; i’m sure results will be similar. Quebec is no exception to the ‘awesomeness’ happening at the provincial level in English Canada, by far. Who’s doing any better???

  2. Talbot: “Who’s doing any better???”

    Saylor: “Duplessis”

    Agent W (Mister Burns voice): “Now we see the true Barb Saylor. Excellent….”

  3. agent w, I was correcting Mr. LaRose’s spelling. In the original, “Duplessis” was rendered almost recognizable, and “Marois” had the “o” and “i” reversed several times. By the time you read the article, Mr. LaRose had corrected those errors, without comment.

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