There is a light at the end of the Harper Tunnel and it’s Quebec. Ironically, for separatist phobic federalists, Quebec has become the standard bearer for the country and the values that boomers grew up with. This is the principal chord Justin Trudeau strikes with the boomer generation. He has consistently had the nerve to say what no other politician has and it’s a simple message: Quebec is getting it right.
The government of Quebec is tackling real problems with real consequences. Reform of the provincial election financing system is happening which will, at least, make it harder to rent-a-politician by limiting private donations to a hundred dollars per individual. This comes at a time when outside Quebec it has become easier not harder for special interest groups to fund politicians sympathetic to their desired positions.
Anyone who’s paying attention knows this is deforming democracy in the United States and the Rest of Canada. At least in Quebec, the government has admitted special interest funding is a problem and is doing something about it. How refreshing! A real response to a real problem.
Quebec has an old fashioned crusading judge, (Charbonneau) who has the courage to take on a variety of deeply vested kickback interests including the Mafia’s construction division. Results from the inquiry have forced the resignation of both the Mayors of Montreal and Laval. This is explained in the Rest of Canada press that the Mafia are mostly a Quebec problem peculiar to only that province. Other provinces and governments are happily not so plagued.
There is another perspective. What if other provinces and ROC municipalities also have plenty of behind the scene deals combined with generous kickbacks to a favored few? A radical thought I know, but possible. If this is happening, what if the principal difference between Quebec and the ROC is that Quebec has a judge and prosecutors with the courage to drag the kickback stories out into the light of day.
In Ottawa, a coalition of ordinary citizens took the city’s non-competitive giveaway of its largest and most important city space all the way to the Ontario Court of Appeal on the reasonable grounds that the city should not have cancelled a competitive process in favour of a non-competition for a favored local group. In this matter, there’s still a private citizen complaint before the Supreme Court. You could argue at least in Montreal there is a competitive process for city contracts even if the winner must shell out 10 to 30 per cent to grease the appropriate palms. Only in Quebec you say?
Then there’s the light at the end of the tunnel on the crime agenda. Every police organization in the country declared the gun registry useful for fighting crime, protecting citizens and their own officers. Note: Quebec was the only province with the courage to take the Harper government to court to protect it’s investment in the gun registry and respond positively to the sensible advice from its own police services.
How about the environment? Quebec is not sympathetic to shale fracking, but what is more interesting is why they’re saying no. The debate is not about oil/gas companies losing money or creating jobs. It’s around much wider issues such as: Let’s assume the chemicals used to extract gas in the fracking process are just fine. They don’t foul anyone’s water, shale gas is still a non renewable energy source which tapping into will just slow down the inevitable conversion of the economy to renewable energy sources. In Quebec, this has become a winning argument, not a caveat.
How about the destructive, political partisanship that has wrung the neck of both the ROC and the U.S. for an entire generation? The new Premier of Quebec is proposing a non partisan, province wide discussion around the two most costly provincial expenditures health care and education. Isn’t that weird? She’s not blaming the previous government. She wants to have a discussion everyone participates in and to come up with a solution everyone will buy.
It remains to be seen how Justin Trudeau will do in his quest to be T Two. My guess is he’ll have a harder ride than he or anyone else imagines. When the Harper Party gets threatened, it gets aggressive. Watch for increasingly vicious attacks against the young Trudeau and they will hurt. The good news here is that if the suicidal opposition parties can ever get smart enough to co-operate against Harper, the the new leader will swing the country towards the direction Quebec is pointing and start focusing on real solutions to real problems with ideology on the back burner.