“We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead.” — Winston Churchill.

For the past 18 months, it’s felt a bit to me like we’ve been fighting a war on two fronts: On the one hand, against Pauline Marois and the PQ at the provincial level, and on the other hand, against Stephen Harper and the Conservatives at the federal level.

One of the two fronts of this war was defeated last night, as the PQ was thrashed at the ballot box and earned its worst election result in 44 years. Now, it’s time to turn our focus to the other front.

Despite ostensibly occupying opposite sides of the sovereignty debate and of the left-right political spectrum, Harper’s Tories and Marois’s PQ have a lot in common. Both came to power on a wave of anger against Liberal corruption amidst grandiose promises to clean up government, and both took corruption to new heights. Both have been engaging in the politics of fear and division. Both have been trying to rig the electoral system to deny votes to their political opponents — Marois via her paranoid accusations about “students from Ontario” trying to steal the election, and Harper via the Orwellian-named “Fair Elections Act” that is anything but. Since coming to power, both have done pretty much nothing I agree with and plenty that makes my blood boil.

Stephen Harper once infamously said that “You won’t recognize Canada when I’m through with it”. That statement turned out to be eerily prophetic.

In the past 8 years of Conservative government, here are just a few ways in which Harper has been working to make Canada completely unrecognizable:

  • The Economy. The Tory pet issue, and the one on which it runs its campaigns. Really? Not so much. Under Harper, Canada went from having a balanced budget and an annual surplus to running the biggest deficits in Canadian history. Yes, some of that was due to the global economic recession, but a lot of that has to do with the Tories’ spending priorities.
  • The Environment. Harper withdrew Canada from the Kyoto protocol, muzzled scientists from researching or even talking about climate change, destroyed records, and stripped away environmental protections in favour of his friends in the oil industry. In fact, last year, Canada was ranked dead last out of of 27 OECD nations for environmental protection.
  • Statistics Canada. Scrapping the mandatory long form census over the objections of pretty much every public poliymaker and everyone who’s ever taken a statistics course in their life.
  • The War on Science. Tories decided that science had to either support their positions, or else science was evil. If the above points weren’t enough for you, Here is a pretty comprehensive (and frightening) chronology that was painstakingly compiled and that ought to make you shake in your booties.
  • Lots and lots more. The status of women. First Nations relations (or lack thereof). The bloated Omnibus bills. Proroguing Parliament to avoid answering questions he doesn’t like. The list goes on. And on. And on.

This two-front war has left many of us exhausted, our resources and emotional stamina drained. Many of us here in Quebec have been too preoccupied with the PQ to turn much attention to what’s going on in Ottawa. The immediate existential threats to our basic human rights that Marois proposed seemed the more urgent problem, and we had an imminent provincial election to worry about. So we focused our efforts here.

But now, it’s time to turn our focus to the other direction, and do everything in our power to make sure that the next election result ensures that Stephen Harper and his Tories can do no further damage to Canada. They’ve done far too much already.

Bye bye Pauline. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

Watch out, Stephen, you’re next.

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There will almost certainly be a recount in my home riding of Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques, won by QS’s Manon Massé by a margin of only 91 votes over Liberal Anna Klisko.

Obviously, I would have preferred a Liberal victory over a Quebec Solidaire one here. The QS is staunchly pro-sovereignty, militantly anti-English, and has pie-in-sky ideas about economics and policy that only a party at no risk of ever having to govern can afford to hold. Furthermore, Manon Massé, while I’ve no doubt is a nice enough person, is a social justice activist who also happens to be an anti-Israel activist who joined in the Gaza flotilla of 2011 and is a member of a group that calls itself “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid”. (Whether or not any member of this group has any idea that Israel is the only state in the middle east where gay rights are even defended is another question… I’ve learned not to expect any logic when arguing with people like this. But I digress.)

Manon Massé (left) and Françoise David of Québec Solidaire awaiting the results of the close race in Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques

The Liberal candidate, Anna Klisko, a housing and real estate lawyer, daycare owner and mom, seems like a much better representative for this riding.

But the truly amazing thing is that she’s come so close to victory at all. The Liberals were expected to come a distant third in this riding, which has been solidly PQ since its creation in 1989. Instead, Daniel Breton of the PQ is sitting in third place, some 600 votes behind Massé. And it’s Klisko who has challenged for the lead. Her strong showing caught everyone by surprise, even her political rivals.

The truth is, Liberal voters in my neighbourhood do exist, though many tend not to broadcast it. And even if some of the votes that the Liberals got this time around were more anti-PQ votes as opposed to genuine support for the Liberals, there’s also the fact that some folks may have voted Quebec Solidaire instead of Liberal because they viewed them as the best PQ foil. Whatever the case, hopefully this means that our riding will be more than an afterthought in the next PLQ campaign, and that we’ll get some actual attention for once.

Whatever the recount shows, I’m glad to no longer be living in a PQ riding. I hope that if Massé is confirmed as the winner, that she will represent the interests of all her constituents with honour. And either way, I’m happy to know that my vote really meant something for once, that it came close to making a real difference in my riding, and that I no longer have to feel like a lone red voter in a sea of blue.

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Quebec Liberals win resounding majority

04.08.2014

It’s a majority government for Philippe Couillard and the Quebec Liberal Party! It’s been a really ugly 18 months, and an even uglier campaign. But tonight, my faith in the people of this province I call home was restored. It’s hard to believe that scarcely five weeks ago, the PQ called this election and was [...]

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Marois then and now

03.24.2014

What a difference 18 months makes: In 2012, Pauline Marois donned a red square and declared the PQ the party of the social left. In 2014, she stood by Pierre-Karl Peladeau and declared the PQ the party of business and the economy. A scant 18 months have gone by. A student-led coup d’etat? As I’d [...]

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A plea to my fellow Quebecers

03.05.2014

Rumours have been circulating for weeks, and now it’s official: Quebec will be heading back to the polls on April 7th. The Parti Quebecois has been in power for a scant year and a half. In that time, it has done more damage than even I would have thought possible. From a vitrol-laced election campaign, [...]

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North Korea: United Nations pulls head out of sand, finally

02.17.2014

More than ten years after the BBC aired a devastating report about North Korean concentration camps, mass killings, torture, poison gas chambers and other horrific atrocities, the United Nations has finally come around to the view that yes, maybe, there were some crimes against humanity going on in the world’s least free nation: “Testimony was [...]

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14 for ’14

01.03.2014

Happy New Year, everyone! I had a conversation with a good friend of mine today over hot beverages while trying to thaw out our toes. The discussion was about goals versus plans. We pretty much agreed that setting goals can be positive and constructive, but getting too set on specific plans can be negative and [...]

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Montreal needs a reality check on customer service

11.25.2013

We Montrealers have a love-hate relationship with our service industry. On the one hand, we bitch and moan about surly store clerks and wait staff. On the other hand, we have the unfortunate habit of viewing it as a point of pride. We’re not like those Americans who greet the public with overenthusiastic fakery, we boast. We’re better than that. Our service sector may be grumpy and indifferent, but câlisse!, at least it’s honest.

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How do you solve a problem like Bixi?

10.09.2013

Montreal’s bike-sharing system is used by thousands of people, myself included, to get around. Montreal is a city where the ubiquitous orange cone is practically a symbol, with road closures and sinkholes and traffic nightmares and transit service outages the norm as opposed to the exception. In this context, Bixi is often the least stressful [...]

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CRTC’s new wireless rules don’t go far enough

06.03.2013

We Canadians pay the highest mobile rates in the world, thanks to the entrenched Bell-Rogers-Telus oligopoly that for years has been gouging customers with impunity. The CRTC, the regulatory body that has generally been in the pocket of the wireless companies, has been taking some baby steps towards actually protecting consumers in recent years, thanks [...]

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