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Daniel Nadeau - Former Liberal organizer, and communications director for Jean Charest in the Sherbrooke riding in 2003.
June 5, 2012
The actions and words of the Charest government are more and more inspired by a conservatism that resembles the politics we’re used to from Harper in Ottawa. PHOTO: LE SOLEIL
You can’t call yourself a liberal and a democrat and, at the first sing of difficulty, trample the principles you say you hold dear and defend. You can’t lay claim to liberalism then suspend the fundamental rights and liberties of citizens to deal with a political crisis that stems from the government’s stewardship of a pre-revolutionary context. That is what the Charest government is doing.
The government leaders explain the special law (78) by reducing it to the simple fact that it is not unreasonable to expect that protesters give eight hour notice of their march route. The truth is that this is but one of element of the special law. What the government doesn’t say is that protesters, union representatives, and students are responsible for the behaviour of their members if things don’t go as planned. They also don’t say that they’re restricting the freedom of association and expression.
They don’t say that any group of more than 50 people in a public place can be declared illegal, according to the good judgement of police. Perhaps, a family reunion in a public place could be declared illegal. Of course, if you trust the judgement of police officers, you won’t be concerned about such wild fantasies, some will argue. The Barreau du Québec (Quebec Bar Association) is concerned. More than 500 jurists were concerned enough to protest in the streets. Even the UN is concerned.
I don’t recognize the Liberal Party of Quebec in this exceptional law that limits the liberties and rights of Quebecers. Yet, this is the same government that hesitates to call an inquiry in the name of the rights and freedoms of those who could be called to appear [transl. note: Charbonneau Commission to investigate corruption and political collusion in the construction industry]. If I understand the prime minister’s argument, the rights and liberties of a Tony Accurso [transl. note: Accurso is a construction magnate recently arrested by the anti-corruption unit] are more important in his eyes than those of Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois [transl.note: co-spokesperson for CLASSE student group], “that communist-terrorist-troublemaker.” (sic)
The government justifies the adoption of the law based on the climate of chaos and violence. Think of the events in Victoriaville and Montreal, the prime minister reminds us. That’s essentially the government’s communications strategy. Don’t retreat, concede nothing, defend law and order. On the one hand chaos, the street and Pauline Marois’s referendums. On the other, order, the payment of a fair share by all and the political stability of Jean Charest. Citizens, soon you will be called upon to chose between PQ chaos of Liberal order.
In the meantime, the government’s rhetoric in more “divisive” than ever: with me or against me. Those who criticize the government are sovereignists, enemies, carrés rouges [i.e. red squares], strategists. The government is manufacturing opponents. In this context, can we believe for an instant that our government wants to find a solution to this conflict, which has become - thanks to [government’s] great care - a social crisis?
The current government’s actions and words are less and less inspired by the liberalism and democratic traditions of the Quebec Liberal Party and more and more by a conservatism that, in many ways, resembles the politics we’re used to from Harper in Ottawa. Essentially, Mr. Charest and Mr. Harper are two politicians from the conservative tradition and that is more apparent than ever.
As an electoral campaign approaches, what political choice remains for those who want a government that governs for the common good and that doesn’t treat our youth with contempt? For those who think that we should recognize the student groups’ rights of association and expression. For those who wish for a government that enters into a dialogue with the populace instead of a government that soliloquizes with itself? For those who believe in the importance of rights and liberties for the citizens of Quebec? In short, what happened to the Liberals?
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.