Quebec: Not Quite Conquered Yet

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a_mtl_paul
Quebec: Not Quite Conquered Yet

 

a_mtl_paul

Quebec is not at a "Mike Harris" moment - Quebec today is not Ontario in 1995. For one thing, while two right-of-centre parties combined have a majority in the National Assembly, they are still two differant parties- one governing, one the official opposition. The government does not command a majority and so cannot simply impose unpopular policies hoping to bring enough people around to get re-elected in a few years time. There is no evidence to suggest that hard-right Harris-style policies would be as popular here as they were in Ontario. In fact, the right-wing ADQ is even resisting putting the government's plan to put $700 million of the recent Stephen Harper budget bribe into tax cuts!

Neo-liberalism's advance here has been more gradual and more subtle than elsewhere, and that will continue to be the case. Lucien Bouchard, who became premier around the same time as Mike Harris did in Ontario, adopted many neo-liberal policies, but was constrained by the stregnth of the trade unions and popular movements. Jean Charest would have liked to have been more like Mike Harris but he too was unable to follow through, much to the dismay of many right-wing commentators.

There are dangers though: that the political discourse will become more dominated than before by neo-liberal ideology now that both the government and the official opposition are openly right-of-centre; and that the Parti Quebecois will implode, leaving Action Democratique to fill the vaccum.