Premier has lost moral authority to govern
If anybody in the province thought last week that there wasn't something seriously wrong in the Charest government, they probably changed their tune after the announcement that embattled Family Minister Tony Tomassi – a main organizer for the Liberals in Montreal's east end and a personal friend of Charest's – resigned his post in cabinet after it was revealed he was personally using a corporate credit card provided by an oil company.
If it wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back, then we would argue that the camel had already been taken out back and shot, with the expense for the bullet somehow foisted onto the de-merged suburbs' tab.
In all seriousness, if last winter's damning report on collusion among Montreal construction companies to land government contracts, coupled with Tomassi's curious awarding of precious $7-a-day day-care slots to campaign contributors and friends weren't enough to spur on an inquiry into corruption in politics, then the cost overruns on the Laval metro extension ought to be.
Yet, here we sit, with no inquiry, no ideas and no faith left in a premier who has consistently done what is good for himself and getting himself re-elected, rather than what is right and what is just.
Bill 104's replacement is due any day now, and you can be quite sure Charest will once more wrap himself in the fleur-de-lys as the defender of all things Quebecois in an effort to once more pander to the vote-rich regions of Quebec.
While the whole time, citizens of Montreal Island – English- and French speakers alike – stew in their own juices over tax increases, gas-tax increases, crappy roads, government immobilisme and the de-merger debacle, Charest plays saviour to the regions, doing his best to save them from the two-headed monster of English education and Muslim women in veils.
It's looking more and more that as a premier Charest is either corrupt, or incompetent, or both.
And that's disappointing. Charest is a political animal, at his best when campaigning and getting out the vote. It's as a leader that he has drawbacks, not the least of which is his two-faced nature.
After all, many West Islanders remember his adamant promise at a 2000 anti-merger rally that drew thousands to Fairview Pointe Claire shopping centre's parking lot.
"You will get your cities back," he proclaimed loudly and proudly. Not "you'll get your cities back, but they will be shells of their former selves with Montreal receiving and controlling a majority of your tax revenues," as has become the case.
It's disappointing, because we put our faith in the wrong person.
To date, the right person has not yet shown his or her face – but they will, eventually.
It's time for Jean Charest to ride off into the sunset