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Manon Cornellier August 13, 2012
Original French Text: http://www2.lactualite.com/cornellier/2012-08-13/la-democratie-selon-jean-charest/
Since the beginning of his electoral campaign, Premier Jean Charest has declared that, after having taken to the streets, it’s now time for the Québécois to express themselves. As if the people protesting and banging on pots weren’t Québécois, but nevertheless. What was the most troublesome was the narrow view that his speech took: vote once every four years and then leave everything in the hands of those elected.
After his stop in Victoriaville on Saturday, we now understand that protesting to express dissidence does not reflect his vision of a vibrant and healthy democracy. So much so, that he constantly mixes protesting with violence and wants to do away with both. See for yourself: “We don’t want protests, do you hear? We don’t want violence. We created a law specifically to put an end to these things”, he said before a group of young Liberals.
We were told that the controversial law 12 (Bill 78) was created to re-establish public order and to supervise the protests, not ban them. By constantly associating violence with protests, the Liberal leader has surely proven that he has intellectual dishonesty because the majority of the protests this past spring have happened without incident.
Violence is condemnable, but protesting quietly as a means of expression is a form of democracy. For some, it is the only choice when up against a wall between elections. And no, citizens do not disappear the day after the vote, in an informed and homogeneous group — this myth is called the “silent majority” — they still think and may have things to say, which can lead to a protest.
I would recommend reading the thoughts of the Director of l’Institut de Nouveau Monde, Michel Venne, on the relationships between politicians and citizens between elections as they are not without interest in this context:
“An election serves to create governments. But, it does not imply the automatic approval of advances policies that the elected government wishes to enact. Governments obtain a majority of seats by a minority of the electorate. The legitimacy granted to an election is imperfect — it must be reinforced by other means like consultation, justification and validation between elections”.
He continues to explain the importance of having the elected officials work to create a consensus surrounding questions that are too complex to be reduced to a campaign slogan. I invite you to read it.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
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