Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

The More It Changes…

Posted on | November 12, 2011 | No Comments

In a speech in front of his supporters today Jean Charest demonstrated how much he still lived in the past. Criticizing François Legault’s constitutional stance, Charest declared that in Quebec one had to be either a federalist or a sovereignist. All intermediate positions were in his eyes indefendable.

Charest however needs only to glance at the other side of the National Assembly to realize that citizens today have quite a different opinion on the question. For a politician today to declare him or herself federalist or sovereignist is to put the cart before the horse.

On a more down-to-Earth side, Sovereignty or attachment to Canada are not in themselves ends but means to realize collective ambitions. These goals and desires can of course change and be more or less compatible with either of these two political options. Yet without a clear idea of the target, without a sustainable social and political agenda, well-defined and supported by a majority of the people, both are just as absurd.

This in fact does answer the question asked for decades in the RoC: “What does Quebec want?” Quebecs wants a clear program to which it can subscribe. As it is currently lacking, it is going back and forth, alternating between federalist or sovereignist leadership in Quebec and Ottawa.

Legault isn’t stupid and grasps this very well. While I’m not a huge fan of his proposals (I’ve rather harshly criticized them so far) I can only laud him as he shuns the national identity minefield without a trustworthy and sustainable project to deliver.

Charest isn’t stupid either. He knows perfectly well that there are on both ends of the spectrum people for whom the ends will always prevail over the means. Making Legault suspicious to both hardcore sovereignists and federalists, he mostly hopes to save his own skin by undermining his opponent’s credibility.

The trick could turn against him. The Québécois might just get fed up with being treated like the ball in a constitutional ping pong match, especially when they would rather focus on other topics, beginning with a major clean-up in the construction industry and in electoral financing.

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