Quebec artists have started their own campaign against the Harper revolution. Michel Rivard and a host of other stars have launched a clip called ‘Culture en péril’, which is a hilarious parody of the kind of policies Harper would put in place if he has a majority government. Québécois do take culture seriously, for obvious reasons. In the last while, the Conservative minority government has cut back on budgets (without any financial rationale), put new regulations in place censoring cultural work and hinted that they would shut down Radio-Canada (and the CBC for that matter). Over 300,000 people have watched the clip since it was been put online, so the impact might be important.

Apart from that, the Conservatives are conducting an ultra-aggressive campaign, aiming to strategically defeat the Bloc who currently holds 48 of the 75 seats in Quebec. Harper’s minimal target is to at least double the number of seats (11) of the Conservatives which could be quite devastating to the Bloc’s claim to ‘represent’ Quebec. The Liberals (11 seats) will also have to work hard to maintain that, although they are not the main target of the CP in Quebec.

Harper benefits from the full support of the hard-right ADQ, which became the official opposition in the last provincial election (slightly ahead of the PQ), but mostly as the result of a protest vote rather than an ideological commitment. Nevertheless, it says something when a third of the citizens opt for a populist, demagogic Québécois version of the bankrupted Alliance. One can think of the rise of the ‘disenchanted’ middle classes who now see their prospects of moving up the social ladder shattered and who think that the public sector, trade unions, intellectuals are the main reason for their demise.

The Conservatives are also betting on the divisions within the Nationalists. Last week, five ex-Bloc MPs came out to denounce Gilles Duceppe as a ‘leftist tool of the trade unions.’ These are some of the right-wingers that were more or less expelled by Duceppe in the recent years because they had sided with the Alliance on abortion issues, for example. Many of their ridings in the last election have gone over to Harper who hopes he can do the same trick in some of the central Quebec semi-urban areas. It is not unthinkable. Pauline Marois admits that convincing people to vote for the Bloc is now a ‘hard sell.’ She is afraid that a big setback for the Bloc would turn against the PQ. Charest, who like Harper is running a minority government, is waiting for his turn to launch provincial elections, which are likely to be held early in the spring. Although Charest is not enamored with Harper, he comes from the same ‘family.’ And also his deadly enemy is of course the Nationalists.

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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 rabble.ca in English...