The voting options in Quebec’s election yesterday were akin to the choice between being punched in the gut and being punched in the face; both are extremely painful or something to be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, the responsibility of an active citizen, especially in an election this important, forced me to choose between a slate of unappealing candidates.
The long-ruling Liberals were attractive in the sense that they were the most staunchly Federalist party contesting this election, and I was assured that no sovereignty shenanigans would happen under their watch. They have also, rightly in my mind, pointed out that social spending in Quebec is out of control, although whether or not raising tuition fees is the appropriate response to this fact can be argued. However, the alleged corruption that wafts from the Charest government makes even holding my nose to vote for them would prove difficult.
The PQ ran an extremely nativist campaign. Pauline Marois threatened to empower French language laws, promising to make it harder for Francophone students to go to English CEGEPs. On one occasion, Marois even shamefully stated that crucifixes are acceptable in public venues, but other displays of religion are not. The PQ has also stated that they will push for a new referendum, and it is not hard to imagine that they will try to extort Ottawa for a favoured status for Quebec based on perceived and imagined slights. On top of this, the PQ has flip-flopped on the tuition increase issue, opportunistically supporting the student protestors when it was popular, and then walking away slowly from this position when the opinion polls turned against them.
The new CAQ party at first seemed quite promising. They are comprised of former Federalist and Sovereigntists, and have proposed avoiding any referendum talks for the near future. Instead, the CAQ has suggested that Quebec should focus on pressing social and economic issues. While this seems admirable in theory, the reality is that leader Francois Legault had been very vague on how he would solve many of the problems facing Quebec. Not to mention the fact that Legault was a former PQ cabinet minister is troubling. Ludicrously, the CAQ has also mused about charging McGill medical graduates a fine if they practice outside of Quebec. In addition, any political party that gives themselves an acronym that leads so easily to sophomoric jokes is probably not ready for the big-time.
Quebec Solidaire is a no-go for me, because like the PQ, they are a hard line sovereigntist party. Also, they also will be lucky to win any seat besides Amir Khadir’s, which, essentially, would make a vote for them feel wasted.
The only viable option in my mind was to vote for the Liberal party—the lesser of four evils. No, they aren’t very competent. Yes, they are probably corrupt. But at the end of the day, they are the most Anglo-friendly party relative to all others, and a vote for them seems like the best option for avoiding another referendum, keeping Canada united, and hopefully bringing social peace to Quebec. These facts alone, as disappointing as they are, had me checking a box next to Jacques Chagnon in Westmount-St Louis yesterday.
— Joshua Freedman