Monday, August 20, 2012

Thoughts on the Québec leaders debate - Charest bounce coming?

To this anglophone ear, listening to to the debate on CBC French language radio 106.3 FM here in the capital of the nation, it struck me that Prime Minister Jean Charest performed very well.

This was the first of four debates, with the leaders of four of Québec's political parties, and the only one with Québec Solidaire's Françoise David taking part.  The format was what we're used to seeing, with all the leaders facing off against each other in turn and tackling issues like the economy, corruption and protecting Québec's language and culture.  

Some thoughts on the combatants:

The winner?  Could be I think.  In a debate with two current and one former separatist, Québec's first minister was not shy about going on the attack.  He took some shots certainly, over issues of corruption and about protecting Québec's interests in Ottawa.  But he fired back about working with Ottawa and boasted of Québec's solid recovery from the financial crisis.  

His best shot was at François Legault, leader of the upstart CAQ party, and a former Parti Québecois cabinet minister.  Charest`s remark about Legault`s forty years as a fervent separatist whose now crossed the street resonated with this listener at least.

Québec might soon have its first ever woman at the head of its government, if current polling holds through to voting day.  And befitting someone who has four children, she came across as a very protective mother, one whose child (in this case Québec) can do no wrong.  Listening to the PQ chef, one would be excused for thinking that life in Québec is horrible and that the French are second class citizens, if not in the province certainly in Canada.

The PQ line is well known, wresting even greater powers from Ottawa and again pushing and advocating for sovereignty, with a referendum to take place when the conditions are conducive.

From this blogger's point of view, a political opportunist.  One who advocated tirelessly for sovereignty, but who recognizes that the people`s appetite for that endless debate is perhaps gone forever.

His pledge is that the CAQ will clean up government, fait le ménage.   That`s the issue around which he's framed his campaign, but the PQ had its share of corruption charges when he was sitting at the cabinet table as a PQ minister.  

She appears to be taking the long view, realizing her chance at electoral success is limited at best during this election.  I imagine she is hoping to win her seat and to be a greater player in the years to come. Pushing even harder for independence than the PQ and advocating an agenda which she unapologeticly calls leftist.  

This voter hasn't made up his mind yet however.  I am hopeful of being able to listen to the one on one debates to follow, particularly those involving Charest with Marois and Legault.  

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