05 September 2012

William Johnson: The PQ aims to divide

The PQ aims to divide

Pauline Marois, at 63, after a political career that began in 1978 when she served as Jacques Parizeau's press attache, now will become the first woman to govern Quebec. That's the good news. But her reign promises to be more bane than blessing, more xenophobic than gracious.
She has promised in her first 100 days in power to enact the most divisive aspects of the most radical electoral program in the history of the PQ. What remains to be seen is whether the Coalition Avenir Québec and the Quebec Liberal Party prove willing and able to act together to vote down her proposals, even at the price of precipitating an early election.
Clearly, any prospect of holding a referendum on secession is now out of the question, since both the CAQ and the Liberals, with or without Jean Charest, would be adamantly opposed. But on issues affecting language and culture the position of the opposition parties is less certain. Jean Charest had suggested at one moment in the campaign that he would support asking the federal government to force Quebec firms under federal jurisdiction to operate in French rather than having a choice of French or English. Moreover, during the 2008 federal campaign, he challenged Ottawa to give Quebec control over communications and federal spending on culture. This is a position not far from that of Pauline Marois. As we shall see.

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