This year, the Parti Québécois (PQ) was gifted their holiday present early: renewed satisfaction in their government on behalf of Quebecers. In fact, according to a poll released by CROP on December 11, a Montreal-based polling and market research company, Quebecers’ approval of the Marois government has risen from 28 percent in June 2012 to 41 percent. The poll also demonstrated a three-point increase in the provincial population’s desire for sovereignty, from 41 percent in a previous November poll to 44 percent.
These results brought about much “holiday cheer” among PQ leaders. PQ Minister of International Affairs Jean-Francoise Lisée has been especially vocal about what these statistics mean for the future of Quebec, even going as far as naming this phase a “decanadianization” of Quebec and “dequebecization” of Canada. According to an article published by The Globe and Mail, Lisée was quoted saying that “the distance between Quebec and Canada is growing. It is as though at many levels, Quebec is already independent in its mind, in its way of making decisions.”
The Minister added that Quebec is slowly but surely drifting away from Canada, stating that the nation as a whole has become a hindrance to Quebec’s growth and future plans, citing Ottawa’s decision to challenge the PQ Charter of Values which would ban Quebec’s public sector employee’s from wearing religious symbols or garments.
Well, it looks like Quebec won’t be holding mistletoe above the federal government’s head anytime soon. Provincially speaking, the PQ festivities continued, as the poll revealed that the PQ is, for the first time in nine months, at an equal footing of popularity with the Quebec Liberals and Marois’ popularity rating was higher than Liberal leader Philippe Couillard.
All in all, PQ leaders see the poll as yet another determinant of Quebecers choosing to make decisions about issues for themselves, “without asking for permission,” as Lisée was quoted saying in a recent article by The Montreal Gazette. “It’s as though, on many levels, Quebec is already independent in its mind, in its way of making decisions and it doesn’t see why it should ask permission from our neighbours for some important decisions we have to make,” Liseé was quoted saying in the article.
Now, I hate to ruin the happy holiday spirit that the PQ may be feeling right now, but the province needs to wake up. Headlines were made in late November over Quebec’s $2.5 billion deficit and the province’s overall slowing growth and decrease in government revenue. According to a study by HEC Montréal released in August 2012, Quebec was on track to replacing Newfoundland as Canada’s poorest province. Yet, more than a year later, it doesn’t seem that much progress has been made in this domain, a domain which should be a priority.
In my view, Quebec isn’t only drifting away from the rest of Canada in the sense of values, as PQ ministers believe, but it’s also differentiating itself economically and socially. These are changes that would only be exacerbated and worsened if sovereignty-seeking Quebecers got their holiday wish. Reconsidering the holiday wishlist and crossing out “sovereignty” for “stability” is a good idea for both the PQ and its supporters.
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