The new Liberal majority in Quebec — will Philippe Couillard (and the rest of us) hear the deeper message????

Apr 8th, 2014 | By | Category: Canadian Provinces

La Vérendrye at the Lake of the Woods / La Vérendrye au Lac des Bois. Western Canada in the first half of the 18th century. Painted by Arthur H. Hider (1870-1952).

No partisan of the Canadian future can fail to admire the practical political judgment of the people of Quebec in their April 7, 2014 provincial election, for seats in the Assemblée nationale in Quebec City.

Strictly in terms of seats the current results, just after midnight on the Globe and Mail site, are :  LIBERAL 70 PARTI QUÉBÉCOIS 30 COALITION AVENIR QUÉBEC 22 QUÉBEC SOLIDAIRE 3 OTHER 0.

You need at least 63 of the 125 seats in the National Assembly for a majority government. And Philippe Couillard’s Liberals now seem pretty certain to have about half a dozen more than that. Moreover, the PQ’s Pauline Marois has (somewhat too sadly, it seems to us) lost her own seat. The PQ at large polled only about a quarter of the province-wide popular vote.

“Separatism” or “independence” or “sovereignty” in Quebec, someone might say, has been dealt a staggering blow. Canada can start breathing normally again. And who knows? That may even be more or less half-true, if the rest of us can start getting serious about figuring out just what it means, practically, that the Canadian federal Parliament has now (as of late November 2006) recognized the Quebecois as a nation within a united Canada??????

The point here ought to become clearer when we look at the underlying democratic popular vote in Quebec yesterday. (Which, as elsewhere, our particular Canadian electoral system does often translate into majority governments in federal and provincial parliaments, with considerably less than a majority of the popular vote.)

In Quebec on April 7 the %  popular vote numbers ‘round midnight are : LIBERAL 41.4% PARTI QUÉBÉCOIS 25.4% COALITION AVENIR QUÉBEC 23.3% QUÉBEC SOLIDAIRE 7.4% OTHER 2.4%.

As best we can make out, in our murky efforts to understand a little of Quebec politics from a rest-of-Canada distance, all of the PARTI QUÉBÉCOIS , COALITION AVENIR QUÉBEC, and QUÉBEC SOLIDAIRE are “sovereigntist” in one more or less serious sense or another. Together they have won some 56% of the province-wide popular vote — to the Liberals’ 41%.

So, in our view, at any rate, the deeper message of the April 7, 2014 election for the National Assembly in Quebec (also a homeland of the first people who called themselves Canadians) is plain enough. Thanks to the mathematical quirks of our shared electoral systems, the Quebec Liberals lionized in the recent Globe and Mail article called  “Maple Leaf will return to Quebec’s National Assembly, Couillard vows” have won more seats than their share of the democratic popular vote justifies. And in the midst of all our quiet happiness outside Quebec, we might also want to start thinking a little more seriously about the kind of protection for the French language in North America that a majority of voters in Quebec actually seem to have voted for yesterday. Pauline Marois alluded to something similar — about protecting the beautiful French language in her courageous farewell address, after what was certainly something of a stunning defeat. And again, who knows? There are those of us outside Quebec who will never speak French properly, but agree the language is beautiful. Protecting this beautiful language in Quebec especially ought  to be a big part of what Canada means. Based on a few recent clips on CBC TV, there may or may not be a few restrained new hopes on the horizon here too.

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