Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Some Quebecers like their politicians soft

How do you like your eggs? Hard boiled, once over lightly? Me, I like mine scrambled usually.

But what about the men and women elected to public office? The most recent polling numbers suggest that about 28% of Quebecers prefer their politicians to be soft, at least on the issue of independence.

François Legault used to be hard for separation, a real pitt bull. Now he says he changed his mind, he's no longer in favour of sovereignty. Does that mean he's hard for Federalism now? Well, no...not exactly. He's not really a Federalist either, instead he's using the word Nationalist to describe himself.

Nationalist...WTF does that mean?

Only in Québec. The political vocabulary in this province is different from what I'm used to, being a transplanted Ontarian. If someone tells me they're a nationalist, I would take that to mean that they're proud to be Canadian.

Mais pas içi.

In Québec's political culture you're either a federalist or a separatist. Either you're for Québec remaining a province in a united Canada or in favour of Québec separating and forming a new country. That's not to say there isn't some nuance allowed, your position can be either hard or soft.

I'm talking about politics here.

Whether one is a soft separatist or soft federalist, it really means the same thing. You swing both ways depending on the circumstances and wording of the question. A sort of political bisexuality if you will.

Hard is of course, just hard.

Jean Charest is hard, no question. He is a federalist through and through. Pauline Marois as well, although the opposite kind of hard as befitting a member of the opposite sex perhaps.

But François Legault? Well, there's no other way to describe his stance on this all important issue other than Soft.

Its nothing but political gamesmanship in my opinion, or as it is put here, chicanery. The CAQ leader is trying to walk both sides of the street, and so far its working. Like a Texas hold `em player who has made it to the final table, he sits happily with a decent size stack while the other two main players go all in.

I don't think the electorate here was expecting sovereignty to be a major issue. I suspect Mme Marois and the PQ would have preferred that the question of creating a new 'nation' via a referendum remain on the back burner . That might have allowed her to pick up Federalists in favour of protecting and promoting the French language and Québec culture. But the emergence of Québec Solidaire and to a lesser degree Option Nationale (the world National even swings both ways) forced her to put her chips in play.

Charest for his part has never left any doubt about his convictions on the question of Canadian unity.

September fourth is next week, and we'll know the results then. Who knows, in Québec politics maybe soft is best? It might make François Legault the King maker or perhaps even the King.

And if a vote on independence comes at same point, maybe there's some medication the CAQ leader can take to firm up his....uhm resolve.

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