A Brief History of Democracy

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Electoral Reform Would Thrust Quebec Into the 21st Century

For the vast majority of Quebecers, the first decade of the 21st century was a lost decade on the political front. It's as if we are still living in the after shock of the 1995 referendum. Politics has taken on the hue of an old black and white film. In the absence of a credible guiding vision, we have regressed to an earlier time where graft, greed, and the lust for power permeate the entire political system from top to bottom, from the municipal to the federal level.

The last decade was the do nothing of significance decade. It's difficult to recall anything of importance. Bouchard retired and declared his doubts about Quebec sovereignty. We flirted with the ADQ and we endured the Liberals.

Ten years later, the mega hospital in Montreal still hasn't been built. School report cards went from number grades to letter grades and then back to numbers. There was talk of some grand development plans for the North, but nothing has gotten off the ground. Quebec City is still looking to replace it's lost NHL franchise and the Canadians didn't win the cup.

Did I forget anything? There was something about our public pension plan losing 40 billion dollars and what constituted reasonable respect for cultural differences, but we seem to have turned the page and moved on.

Moved on to what, I'm not sure. Politics in Quebec has become like an extended version of the film Ground Hog Day. Each morning we wake up and face the same choice between do we stay or do we go, and by the end of the day we still haven't decided only to wake up to the same choice the next day. Same old same old.

To break the loop, we need to cut our ties to the political system that keeps us there. The Westminster parliamentary system produces a bi-polar disorder. It keeps giving us the same options. Once in a century one of the options will change, but in the meantime politics become excruciatingly dull and predictable. No wonder less and less people bother to vote.

But things could be different. Political diversity could emerge. Everyone's vote could count. How quickly this comes about might depend on a decision to be rendered by Quebec's Court of Appeal shortly.

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