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Jocelyn Richer & Martin Ouellet June 15, 2012
Québec: In the parliamentary end of session wrap-up, Premier Jean Charest engaged in an attack on Pauline Marois, a rival who heès been taking seriously since the Liberal loss to the PQ in Argenteuil last Monday.
Charest is placing himself in the centre of the political scale, accusing the PQ of sliding strongly to the left since the start of the student conflict. Even if she has aspirations to becoming Québec premier, Marois is not up to the task, in Charest’s opinion, having refused to condemn the acts of intimidation and violence during the student protests.
Charest described the PQ chief as a weak leader, hostage to the “extremist” and “radical” elements in her party. Despite the repeated halts to negotiations with the students on the subject of tuition hikes, and the intensity of social tensions over the conflict in the past few months, Charest has made no apologies. He is maintaining a hard line against the student leaders, and inviting them to make concessions.
On the subject of the date for the next election, Charest repeated his usual line: they will take place within the next 18 months. He reproached the PQ opposition for having systematically blocked the passage of a number of laws, including a mining law and the law that was supposed to create the Société du Plan Nord.
Marois denounces the “smear campaign”
Pauline Marois invited voters not to fall for Charest’s attempts at associating the Parti Québecois with social disorder.
A few months from a possible general election, the PQ chief predicts that the Liberals will embark on a “smear campaign” with negative publicity. She is basing her predictions on Liberal documents obtained recently by her party, which suggest associating the PQ “with the streets” and in opposition to the creation of jobs and economic stability. Quebeckers “must not let themselves be manipulated” by Charest’s electoral strategy, Marois maintained.
Far from wanting to resolve the social crisis, the Liberal government has deliberately fed the conflict over the past few weeks in the hope of electoral gains, she insisted. Charest’s clear wish to associate the red square with intimidation and violence is motivated, according to her, “by his desire to have his [contribution to the conflict](translator’s note: bilan- a liberal translation) forgotten.”
In any case, the triggering of an election is the only way to resolve the current crisis, argued Marois, whose party made an historical gain last Monday by winning the Argenteuil riding, a Liberal stronghold.
Charest is no longer the man for the job, according to Legault
As for the chief of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), François Legault, he argues that Charest is no longer the man for the job. The problem isn’t the product, it’s the seller, said Legault in a press conference.
Legault maintained that Charest is no longer up to governing, the population being dissatisfied with the government’s work as a whole over the last nine years. Thanks to this sentiment, no matter what solution Charest proposes to Québec’s problems, the population will remain unimpressed, according to Legault.
Legault says that he does not regret having supported the government during the debate around Bill 78, despite the political risk, preferring to be constant than to be opportunist as he sees the PQ to be.
In terms of economics, the priority should be on creating jobs that pay $20 or $30 an hour, argued Legault.
Khadir denounces Liberal’s hard line
As for Amir Khadir, the co-spokesperson for Québec Solidaire, he sees the last parliamentary session as having been marked by the Liberal government’s hard-line stance towards the student fight against tuition hikes.
However, the future belongs to neither Paul Desmarais, Jean Charest, nor to Pauline Marois, but to the collective of young people angry with the corruption and intermingling of corporate interests and political affaires, Khadir emphasized during a press conference.
The last few months have been very charged for the leftist leader. His support for civil disobedience in the face of Bill 78, the successive arrests of his daughter, his arrest during an illegal demonstration, and the search of his home have assured significant media coverage.
Québec solidaire is “part of the polls and of the streets” and is taking on it’s role as the voice of the common malaise, argued Khadir.
The current social crisis could allow Québec Solidaire to gain popularity, and it is not unreasonable to hope for the election of five to ten Solidaire deputies in the next election, said the deputy from Mercier.
“It’s well within the realm of reason,” he said, listing a number of possible sites of future victory, including the Montreal ridings of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques, Rosemont, and Gouin.
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 email@example.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.