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Olivier D. Asselin August 31, 2012
Original French text: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/358149/odjine-monsieur-charest
Demonstrators surrounded the Salon du Plan Nord that took place at the Palais des congrès last April.
A letter to Mr. Charest,
A few months ago, I believed it was wise to let history judge you. I thought to myself that, before time’s relentless authority, your shenanigans, subterfuges and pettiness wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. I still believe it, but today I also believe that history alone cannot guaranty your downfall. Humans have to contribute too.
Let’s be clear, Mr. Charest. I’d rather not target you personally with these words. The problem is that you represent a parliamentary system so fossilized by its hierarchical rigidity that you must be the individual found responsible for our current situation. Be a good sport and remember that not so long ago, during the “let’s depose the bumbling fool” campaign, when part of Quebec wished for your departure, you were glad to personally hold such centralized power.
This centralization of power in the hands of one man - or, exceptionally, one woman - is so great in the Canadian parliamentary system that, once elected, it is possible to retain power despite an extraordinary level of scorn from the population. The example of Stephen Harper in Ottawa speaks for itself as he violates one rule of parliamentary democracy after another and we do not have the power to do anything. The “first past the post” parliamentary system dates from another time and isn’t suitable for a society as complex and diverse as 21st century Quebec.
When you lose on September 4th, Mr. Charest, remember the contempt that you’ve shown the young people who truly believed in their cause and the magnitude of their ideals. Remember the broken limbs, the hurt eardrums, those blinded for the greater social justice that you have always refused them.
Remember, Mr. Charest, that hidden away in the Palais des congrès with your small band of business people, you laughed while blood flowed outside.
“Grotesque”? Not Mr. Charest! You have knowingly exploited this social crisis in an attempt to make everyone forget the scandals of corruption, collusion, to distract people from the prevailing theft of natural resources. “Duh!” Only a few months after you gave away exploitation rights to Anticosti Island for a mere pittance, it was found, by chance, to be overflowing with oil. That is grotesque.
I have to wonder if the student crisis was planned months in advance to divide the Quebec electorate on a simplistic ideological question. You knew that the students would never accept this measure and react strongly.
Perhaps you have underestimated your adversary, but you used students to divert attention precisely because they aren’t your voting base, and you did everything to show angry young people and police breaking up protests on television.
You want to scare people in the regions where you hope to gain voters. This is called wedge politics, or the politics of division. This tactic is full of contempt for the citizens, you have borrowed from Stephen Harper, who controls them without ethics, like a robot. But you are obviously not as good at this calculated game as he is, even if you serve are the same interests: the Plan Nord’s mines are the tar sands and shale gas.
You reap what you sow
Like Mr. Harper, Mr. Charest, you only try to divide your opponents in hiding, behind endless procedural rules, to escape the consequences of your actions. You are among those who revel in technocratic power without merit. But, worst of all, you probably believe that if you save your position in the election, you’ll have been right to laugh, lie, and destroy.
A few years ago, I crossed paths with an Ancient Amerindian of the Anishnabe Nation. He taught me the meaning of a word in his language. “Odjiné” is similar to the the expression “What goes around comes around”. But, taking his time, the old man explained that the expression must not be simply be understood as “If you give, you will receive in return,” but – and especially – as : “All the destruction you leave behind will be returned to you.” In short, the end does not justify the means and you will get what you sow. Good lesson, is it not Mr. Charest?
As for you, the CAQ’s that circle the Liberals’ remains, you seem to be a bunch of opportunist scum; old formulas, forced smiles, dripping hyper enthusiasm, no sincerity…. In two words: a foul formula.
At the other end of the spectrum, thank you, Ms. Françoise David, for having recently given another meaning to the concept of national debt and reminding us that the biggest obstacle we will leave our children is clearly that of a more and more precarious global environment.
Olivier D. Asselin
Student and director a web series on the Quebec Spring (poingdevues.wordpress.com)
*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.