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Patrick Lagacé August 1, 2012
Gaetan Barrette, doctor; Pierre Duchesne, journalist; Léo Bureau-Blouin, a CEGEP student; ephemeral figures from the old ADQ; elected leaders of northern counties; Sophie Stanké, the animator; Roberti Poëti, the once-cop; the ex-president of the Aveos union whose name I forget; author Djemila Benhabib; ex-barrister Gilles Ouimet: all of these people are candidates. The party leaders haven’t stopped showing you their stuff, these last few days, with all the false humility of the guy who shows up camping in his new Winnebago.
Really, it seems like all of Québec was tapped for star candidates. Jocelyne Cazin for the CAQ. Christian Bégin for Québec Solitaire. My friend Jean-François Lisée for the PQ (though he hasn’t been officially confirmed at this time). The caretaker at your child’s day camp? There’s a good chance she’s been tapped to run for Option Nationale…
And here I am listing only the well-known people — well-known in their fields, at any rate — amid those who have decided to embrace public life. I haven’t named the illustrious unknowns who are also making the proverbial jump into politics.
These are people like Denis Leftakis, who will hold the CAQ banner in Châteauguay, against the minister Pierre Moreau. Mr. Leftakis is the involuntary star of a viral video: wandering in Montréal, well before being a foot soldier for François Legault, he is questioned by humourist Guy Nantel who does a number on his street smarts.
Nantel: “How many fleurs de lys are there on the flag of Québec?”
Leftakis: “One, officially….?”
Happily, Mr. Leftakis corrects himself later in the conversation: there are six fleurs de lys on the national flag.
I’m a bit ashamed to say no one approached me to be a candidate. Not a phone call, for what that’s worth. I am not even worth being sized up to be a candidate. I would have said no, for sure. But when I see everyone invited to the same party, but not me, I wonder what I did wrong: maybe a zit that grew on my nose over the summer?
Look, at any rate, whether someone is a star candidate or not, they’re in for a wake-up call. This, the 40th provincial election in Québec, is going to be like all the others: a contest between party leaders.
The leader of a party is like the sun shining over the countryside. The leader of a party is like the sun around which everything orbits. For the TV cameras, candidates will stand with the leader, nodding their heads, preferably looking joyless.
I am tempted to say, “the students” to explain everything that has come with the Printemps Erable, for all that has divided Québec over the last few months: tuition fees, unrest in the streets, strikes, authority, cops smacking people around, broken windows, disorder, and “everyone paying their own way.”
Jean Charest, who always pins the spectre of a third referendum on Pauline Marois, has spent the spring preparing us for a referendum of his own on September 4th: the red squares, or the PLQ.
Speaking of the red squares, that’s a better topic of discussion for the premier than donations to the Liberal party that miraculously helped to steer certain government decisions, for links between his party and major construction firms, and two years of refusing to call a commission of inquiry about corruption in the construction industry.
If the students feel they have to start up again with protest-actions… they will help Charest to win his referendum.
I dream, I would love, for this election to be at least a little about petroleum rights in Anticosti. This affair has been quietly waiting in ambush on social networks since the start of the summer. Hydro-Québec, and therefore the people of Quebec, own the rights to this gas. At least, they did, until they were sold off for peanuts.
On social networks, people are agitating and calling in a scandal, calling it “the theft of the century.” It’s estimated that Hydro let $4000 billion dollars slip away. Journalists are starting to dig up the story. We’ll see if it becomes a scandal.
But I do know that there is another scandal lurking in the Anticosti file, a state-sized scandal that is pure Québec: a scandal of opaqueness. Hydro Québec — winner of the 2009 Grand Prix de Noirceur (“Darkness prize”) awarded by the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec [Québec Professional Journalists’ Federation] for it’s blatant opaqueness — refuses to make public details about contracts concluded with private firms for gas in Anticosti. Exxon and BP wouldn’t do any less.
Pipe down, citizen, and wait for the press release.
Anticosti — like wind farms, like shale gas, like the Plan Nord too — puts forward a fundamental question: what role does the state have in dealing with privately-owned firms? For years we’ve asked ourselves this question in the aftermath of crises. This 40th election could give us the reason to ask this question over the upcoming 35 days.
I know: one can always dream.
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.