Quebec: How Charest made us running in circles for nine years reflects history

With the race to the booths that may add another page in history only hours away, the hearts of Quebecers are thumping in what our future may bring. Although, doesn’t this room look familiar to anyone, despite the newly painted walls?

To note, during the 19th century, the Liberal Party was founded after the values of Louis-Joseph Papineau and Chevalier de Lorimier- Les Patriotes. These Francophone activists were fighting for equal rights in Lower Canada. They were oppressed by the Loyalists to the British Monarchy that ruled Canadian government at the time.
                                                          A film on Les Patriotes (1999)
Wait, so the same people the Liberal Party were fighting against back then are the ones representing the party of today? Yes.

Present Liberal leader Jean Charest, who began his career as a member of the Progressive Conservatives of Canada (1984-1997), essentially brought conservative views to a party that was originally founded on centrist values. Simply observe Bill 78 that violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and his main concern supposedly being the economy, despite the thousands of job cuts made in 2012.

Reflecting back on the 20th century, women in Quebec only gained the right to vote in 1940, compared to Ottawa, which gave that right by 1884. In our 2008 provincial elections, only 57% of the entire population participated in voting at all.

Throughout the 1950s, student unions fought to make higher education accessible, today unions are fighting to keep it that way. Suddenly, women had the right to work and file for divorce, and schools were no longer controlled by the Church.
                                          Montreal 1968               Montreal 2012
Montreal had the first metros built in 1968 thanks to Mayor Jean Drapeau. Boston saw the first underground subway line in the United States by 1897, which means La Belle Province would stay behind by 71 years in terms of revolutionizing transportations, amongst other things.

Life changed overnight that decade. Former Radio-Canada journalist and ex-Liberal candidate René Lévesque gave hope to unrepresented Francophones by starting Le Parti Québécois. However 1970 saw much turmoil during the October Crisis, which tarnished how Francophones are seen today.

It seems Quebec began to move forward in the Quiet Revolution, but somehow we remained trapped there and are continuing to fight for what our grandparents did. Who has held us back? For one, the Federal Government hasn’t been all that kind.

Yes, our language is recognized in the constitution; however it is frowned upon and treated as Latin since we’re the only 2% of French speakers in North America. Every time this argument is made Quebec is considered as being non-accepting.

For one, our province favored keeping the gun registry, the Kyoto Protocol, but those decisions were ignored. Instead of living collectively as a country, Prime Minister Harper only recognizes Quebec when the word referendum is mentioned. Is this not why 58 NDP seats were created in our backyard?

On one hand, the referendum argument may seem like old thinking; on the other hand it is old unresolved issues that still show resentments in the throats of many. Quebec has a long history of political activism for a reason.

The highest taxes in the country, the largest bureaucracy, and we also see one of the lowest minimum wages at $9.50/hr. The Federal government does provide much money, but that only scratches the surface of the real issues.

Nevertheless, when the youth are standing up to keep our admired education system as is, we are “entitled”. The sad truth, maps may show Canada as one, but we have always been somewhat separated.

Languages are what define us and creates job opportunities. Education, the environment, and health care are all endangered because old views and bickering are put ahead too often. Each province has their own identity, yet Quebec distinction is still bitter to some. Why?

Some would vote for Jean Charest or Francois Legault simply because they might represent Anglophones better, but ask, do they represent their views? Likely not. Looking at these party platforms, they are not the most modern of politicians. An Anglophone can vote for a Francophone party, as vice-versa can be acceptable too.

Legault’s focus involves 10,000 job cuts to Hydro, unrealistic mandates such as one doctor per family, when the shortage of doctors claims otherwise. His focus on education seems reflective of Maurice Duplessis. He and Charest might as well be two peas in a pod.

As Oscar Wilde claimed, “What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Whomever one votes for tomorrow, be sure it’s a government representative of one’s values that can bring us forward and realize the goals created during the Quiet Revolution, to welcome an era where the voice of a generation will finally be heard.