Friday, March 28, 2003

Bollocks at the Ballot Box

You know what is on my mind of late, filling my thoughts day and night? It’s the same thing that I’m sure you’ve been ruminating on. It’s the same hot topic that I keep hearing students feverishly discussing between classes and that crowds of people are out debating in the streets.

That’s right – it’s the upcoming provincial elections!

That is a lie. I am only kidding. I am not really thinking about next month’s elections. Nor is anyone else impassioned about them. No one cares. The only time I have felt anything that even remotely resembles passion with regard to these elections was when I found out that one of my final exams would be held a day earlier because of them.

While I consider myself an informed and intelligent citizen who cares passionately about all facets of our democracy, big and small, I must admit that my on-the-fenceness regarding the provincial elections is actually apathy masquerading as on-the-fenceness. It’s not that I’m carefully debating the issues in my head; I just genuinely don’t give a darn. I have many other things on my mind at the moment, to which I have given higher priority. These include the war in Iraq, my exams, the poor Kurds, some papers that are due very soon, the way the fucking Canadiens can’t seem to keep a lead in the third period, and having outdoor sex now that the warmer weather is here.

In fact, I hesitated to even write a column about the provincial elections, because I can hear the sound of turning pages and clicking mice even now. And yet, glutton for punishment that I am, here’s a run-down of the parties.

Well, the one party that I was worried about getting in was the ADQ. The Action Démocratique du Québec was high in the polls last year, because its leader Mario Dumont refused to discuss either sovereignty or the constitution, issues with which the electorate en a plein le cul. Voters have since turned against them, recognising the ADQ as Quebec’s neoconservative cousin of BC’s Liberals and Ontario’s Tories. I was certainly never going to vote for them, and if they were high in the polls, I would strategically vote against them.

As a young(er) Anglophone, living in the Notre-Dame-de-Grace riding, Quebec elections were clear. Anglophones – with the exception of the Montreal Regional Health Board’s President David Levine – weren’t Péquistes or indépendistes, and therefore should vote for the Liberals or – if you were a kooky Anglo – one of the smaller parties (e.g. Bloc Pot, the Equality Party). Nowadays the lines aren’t that clear to me.

I’m not a separatist for the simple reason that nationalism of any stripe does not appeal to me, but now Premier Landry, in an attempt to attract non-sovereigntists to the PQ, has said that he will not seek to separate from Canada. Instead, he might, just maybe, perhaps, seek what he calls mysteriously a confederal union. I have no idea what that is.

Could I bring myself to vote for the Parti Québecois? Well, yes. (But without telling my parents.) Montreal has really flourished as a city over the past five years and the PQ should get some credit for it. As well, the PQ has been leading the nation on issues like gay rights and affordable daycare. Also, the PQ has kept tuition frozen and promised to keep it frozen. Huzzah!

On the other hand, the PQ has failed to deal with the current healthcare crisis. Failed miserably. In fact, the PQ seems to be actively chasing away doctors and nurses. My friends in medical school all plan to leave the province after they graduate. In fact, less than half of McGill’s medical school grads stay in Quebec after they’ve finished their residency. The PQ has had two mandates to fix the heathcare system; do they deserve another one?

Now then, what about the Liberals? Well, they stand for…uh. They want to…hmm. I’ll be honest, I have no idea what the Liberals want. If Jean Charest and company stand for anything other than not being the PQ, I wish they’d come out and say it. The Liberals have done little to distinguish themselves from the PQ, and yet, not being the PQ might just be enough to get them elected.

And so, I am apathetic about the elections. Unless the Parti Quebecois or the Liberals come up with something to convince me that one of their parties is better than the other, my current plan is to vote for David Fennario, who is running for the Union des Forces Progressistes in the Westmount-St. Louis riding (which includes the Concordia and McGill ghettoes).

Fennario, the playwright who wrote Balconville and The Death of Rene Levesque, has vowed to fly the red flag over Westmount if he wins. “I plan after winning to liberate and democratise Westmount. There are a lot of big, big houses there with only two people living inside, and they would make great co-ops. We can turn some of those huge gardens into co-op gardens,” Fennario told The Gazette earlier this week.

Now that’s an election promise that’ll get me out to the polls!

On the Fence appears Thursdays.

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