Friday, August 24, 2012

Too good to be true

I argued yesterday that while the media emphasis has been on a citizen-initiated ballot initiative/referendum on the issue of Quebec secession, they don't all have to be sucky. For instance, opinion polls suggest that French-speaking Quebecers don't like the way the government has restricted their kids from the wrong kinds of public schools (read: English-language ones). Certainly a ballot-initiative on that topic would have widespread appeal and I could imagine such a restriction being voted down.

But not so fast, dear citizens. In an attempt to defuse the criticism that she would let hardcore separatists dictate the timing of a referendum on secession, Pauline Marois now says that the Quebec legislature would decide whether to accept a citizen-initiated ballot initiative.

You can now add arbitrary rule-making to the growing list of anti-liberal, anti-liberty and anti-democratic positions put forward by the Parti Québécois.

What's the point of a citizen-initiated vote if the legislature can arbitrarily quash it? The PQ is like an alcoholic father who drinks too much. The kids know it's wrong, but it's all they know. Quebecers are so used to the PQ's crazy ideas that when a new one is discovered, no one is shocked. What's worse, the candidate expressing the idea gets to carry on in the campaign as if nothing has happened.

Compare Marois' comments about giving a language test to people who want to run for office in Quebec to another crazy comment south of the border. US Senate candidate Todd Akin said that women could not get pregnant from "legitimate rape". For that, his party is throwing him under the bus and he will likely have to drop out of the election. Marois gets to continue her campaign.

How is it that the idea of barring citizens from running for public office made it all the way up to the leader of the party? No one at any of the meetings spoke up and said, "Dude, I think that's pretty f*cked up. Maybe we should scrap it"?

Why, in other words, do politicians in Quebec get away with expressing the kinds of crazy ideas that would destroy their political careers in any other jurisdiction in North America?

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