The contradiction is this. Quebec is of the most ‘liberal’ societies in Canada and North America. There is no spin here about gay MPs, Ministers or even priests. The right of women to decide on reproduction issues is supported across the board. Teachings on various religions have replaced the central place occupied in the past by the Catholic Church. A vast majority of the people is hostile to any form of censorship in the media, cinema or even television. And you could go on like this for a while.

Then comes Harper. Relatively hidden are his ‘moral’ issues that he likes to promote elsewhere. Some of his candidates are ‘born-again’ Catholics, like this Opus Dei member who runs for the CP in Laval. During recent debates on reproductive rights in the House of Commons, Conservative backbenchers voted with the usual rightwing twist, although Quebec Conservative leaders and ministers took pain in affirming that they were not in agreement with any backtracking on abortion and women’s rights. It has to be said that there are also Bloc and Liberal backbenchers that have taken similar ‘moral’ views.

So all in all it does not count much in the electoral campaign. But again this reveals how hypocritical the Harper ‘revolution’ is. Harper is too intelligent to come ‘out’. Except that it does come out, like criminalizing teenagers, another policy that does not have the support of the majority in Quebec. However on that matter, there are lots of rightwing reverberations. Downwardly-mobile middle classes are sensitive to the kind of Bush ideology of jailing, killing and torturing. They are anxious that their life will go down with the sub-prime crisis, the housing market collapse and all of these things they are unable to understand and they come to hate the poor and the vulnerable.

How to explain the advances of the Conservatives then? As I said before, I think it is a consequence of the meltdown of the Liberal Party, and the weakening of the Nationalists.

It is not a consolation really. Reagan in the USA, Thatcher in the Britain, went along with their ‘revolution’ while they were ruling with a minority of the electorate. They did not care and just rolled on. This ‘low-intensity’ democracy means that the Executive can rule without much consideration to traditional liberal structures like the Parliament and even political parties. This is the scary part.

Be confident, today the anti Harper satiritic clip by Quebec artists has passed the 400 000 hits. It seems it’s the talk of the day in the cegeps and universities. Will young people come out and vote?


Pierre Beaudet

Pierre Beaudet, active in international solidarity and social movements in Quebec, is founder of Quebec NGO Alternatives, and Editor of the Nouveaux cahiers du socialisme. He blogs on in English...