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Lise Payette July 20 2012
Original French text: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/355006/le-pere-noel-est-tot-cette-annee
Honestly, the election will be welcome and it will probably come as a relief for those who are waiting for a major change in Quebec’s political situation, after years that can’t be said to have been pleasant for everyone. Far from it.
The hundreds of thousands of people who, night after night, have taken possession of the streets all over the province since last spring will reignite the glimmer of hope that they have carried without wavering. The protesters of all ages will not want to miss this gathering from which they hope will finally bring a collective future that resembles them.
I would like, however, to put them on guard against an old technique, developed a long time ago and used largely by the liberals and the conservatives each time that it serves their interests and that consists of using a weapon against the good people that will end up paralyzing them. If the people rekindle the hope, the politicians will do their best, to seize power, to bring back fear, an often insidious “weapon of mass destruction” which wreaks havoc among the most fragile people.
We’ve seen the same technique used each election for decades and the “sponsorship scandal” has demonstrated well how far some politicians were ready to go not to face defeat. Obvious lessons must be learned before the next elections bulldozer is put in motion, because, believe me, the attack will be excessive. It’s enough to see to what point those who are in office hold onto power to imagine how far they will go to keep it. Each person’s vanity will serve as fuel, and the blows will be ample.
Fear, a bad advisor
They will attempt to convince us that everything will go poorly if we decide to change governments. They say it every time, thinking that that will persuade us to give them the control that they believe only they are able to exercise. They will pretend to know the future, which will be ours if we withdraw our trust in them, and will definitely say that this future will be blocked entirely because they are the only ones who have the solutions which will make us richer, happier and healthier people. Do we dare ask them why they didn’t do it before? This would give us the possibility of judging them on what they’ve achieved rather than what they have promised to do and what they haven’t done. Same old, same old.
The regular boogey men will sign up again. The politicians will surely trade roles and attempt to convince us that we are responsible for everything that isn’t going well in Quebec, rather than assuming responsibility for it while they were at the helm, and that their big boss had two hands on the wheel. We cost too much in health care, we are lazy and we don’t work enough, we retire too early and most importantly: do we pay our “fair share”? These are all of the questions that will allow us to feel small, petty and overrun by the problems that we want to see resolved.
They will shout from the rooftops that without the Plan Nord, Quebec will be doomed to seek out its subsistence from the international aid organizations for the most destitute, that the mining businesses work for us and that we mustn’t forget that distribution of the wealth is already there and that we mustn’t disgust the wealthy who don’t pay their income taxes because, besides, they could choose to go pay it, disappointed on top of that, without doubt, by our small mindedness. I hear them already.
As for me, I’m immune to fear. I have really heard everything, listened to everything, such that none of their speeches give me the slightest chill anymore. Fear, the last time that I came across it, that was in an outreach center somewhere in the lower part of the seaway during the 1980 referendum campaign. The liberals (I could give names) had passed the day before my visit. They had said to these elderly people that if the Yes won, there would be no more orange juice because Quebec doesn’t grow oranges. So that would be the end of orange juice.
These elderly people were terrified. I tried to reassure them. But the list of what there would no longer be was very long. I told them to vote how they wanted. That there would always be orange juice and the rest of it too. Even if they voted “no”. I understood that day that the only way to get a “yes” from these poor elderly people was to make them even more afraid, like by threatening to close the outreach center if they didn’t vote Yes, which I was incapable of doing. I never would’ve been able to use fear to win a referendum.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
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