To panic or not to panic?
A view in the result of the Quebec election.
The rise of the Parti Québécois in Quebec’s recent provincial election raised flags of the danger of a possible breakup of the country.
Should Canadians really be worried about a possible sovereignty referendum in the future?
The result of the election in Quebec was not a major political earthquake but a minor sign of the seismic activity of change in the province’s future.
It was a close election. The PQ won 54 seats, nine less than required to form a majority government. The party only had 32 per cent of the vote, in comparison with the Quebec Liberal party who got 50 seats with only 31 per cent of the vote and the Coalition Avenir Quebec who got 19 seats with 27 per cent.
To understand these results, it’s important to see the context behind them.
Quebecers went to the polls after a convulsionary year — the leading Liberal party mired in corruption allegations, one of the worst economic performances in the country, one of the highest unemployment rates worldwide and a year filled with student protests.
The results of the election should be seen as a gasp for fresh air in the political scene, rather than an aspiration for sovereignty.
The PQ is coming into power after almost a decade of peace on the topic of national unity provided by the federalist Charest government.
It is important to understand that, for many Quebecers, a vote for the PQ doesn’t necessarily mean a vote for sovereignty – but rather a vote for the only left wing party that is a viable choice in Quebec (something that will change in the future with the rebirth of the New Democratic Party of Quebec in the provincial political scene as federal NDP leader Thomas Mulclair announced in August, 2012).
Pauline Marois has her hands tied as the new Premier of the Francophone province. She will not be able to follow up on many of her electoral promises and her only real grasp of power will be through ministerial orders.
The real possibilities of work towards sovereignty by the PQ in the assembly is even less realistic.
A recent poll from polling firm CROP Inc., has shown that support for sovereignty in Quebec is at an historic low of 28 per cent, and the PQ’s aspirations to work unilaterally on the issue would surely be a death knell for the party.
This is the beginning of major changes in Quebec but Canadians will need to wait until March 2013 when the new budget for Quebec will be passed, to see how they play out.
If the PQ gets a vote of no confidence from the opposition, two scenarios could happen – the rise of a new government integrated by a coalition of the Liberal and CAQ parties, or the call for a new election.
Most likely, the political earthquake that will come from Quebec’s recent government shake-up will not impact Canada in the form of a referendum but in the potential rise of the first national NDP government.
Historically, all the governments in Canada, except the Harper government, have been elected with a bedrock in Quebec.
The minority government of the BQ has the power to sway voters’ perceptions leading up to 2014.
The seismic activity coming from Quebec could be a sign of the writing of a totally new chapter in the history of our young country.