The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) is taking a real run at West Island votes. In addition to running a slate of impressive candidates such as Toni Rinow in Nelligan and Paola Hawa in Jacques Cartier, CAQ leader Francois Legault has repeatedly played down his sovereignist leanings , saying he would vote ‘no’ if a Quebec referendum on independence were to be held and vowing to shelve the province’s question nationale for his 10 years in politics should the CAQ take power and form the government. It’s all very reassuring, given that West Islanders have held the Jean Charest-led Liberal Party in some level of suspicion ever since he went back on his now-12-year-old pledge that West Islanders upset by the forced mergers under the PQ government ‘would get your cities back.’
We, of course, did not get our cities back, with some boroughs staying boroughs not because the majority of the population didn’t vote in favour of it (they did, overwhelmingly), but rather, because the government also obliged 35 per cent of voters to vote in favour of de-merging, which meant, effectively, that staying home and not voting was akin to voting to stay a part of the city of Montreal, which is, of course, what the government was counting on.
Since then, the Liberal government has taken West Island votes for granted, and why not? It’s not like we were clamouring for different representation – West Islanders keep voting the same MNAs into office election after election because sovereignty is such a distasteful proposition – but now, it appears as though there might be a viable alternative to the Grits, who have tightened up Bill 101, bungled the de-merger campaign, hired more OQLF ‘language cops’ and forced the 2007 Bouchard-Taylor Travelling Redneck Circus upon us because it was felt that too many immigrants aren’t adopting the Quebecois ‘identity’ – all the while positioning themselves as a party beleaguered Anglophones could trust.
West Islanders keep voting the same MNAs into office election after election because sovereignty is such a distasteful proposition – but now, it appears as though there might be a viable alternative to the Grits. -
But the CAQ’s abolish-school-boards proposal has been a deal-breaker for many voters we’ve spoken to informally, some observers concerned that a loss of school boards leaves the English-speaking community without a single elected official that is accountable to the community and its voters.
Legault’s accounting background may also come in handy in cutting costs in some of our more bloated ministries, but it’s going to take a massive culture change to get this province to go from a have-not province crying at the federal table for its share of the Alberta oil crumbs to a financial juggernaut that Legault envisions. How this election shakes out is going to be anyone’s guess – but if we only elect Liberals and someone else forms the government, then we’re going to once more be o the outside looking in.
That’s a decision each voter must make for themselves.