It has been over three weeks since election day and my blood pressure has almost returned to normal. It was a nail-biting night of watching the election results and I was about as emotional as a Montrealer gets when watching a Stanley Cup playoff game (remember those?).
The difference is that the game is over but I am left with a wary, uncomfortable “wait-and-see” feeling.
The feds may well say that Quebecers do not want to reopen the constitutional debate, and the popular vote may reflect this, but Pauline Marois is working toward sovereignty, and linguistic and cultural issues are key policy issues for our new minority leader and her party.
Last week’s announcement that Jean-François Lisée would be minister of international relations and responsible for building relations with anglophones was no surprise but still made me feel uneasy.
The rhetoric about “weaving close relations” was nice and dandy but the talk about making anglos feel they constitute “a richness for the province and are full members of the Quebec nation” made me pause, and it wasn’t just because of the idea of Quebec as a nation.
I already feel that I am a valuable and full member of the province that I call home, and the people I know feel the same way.
So who are they trying to convince? Why do we need to build relations? I was born here.
The fact that I am not familiar with pop singer Marie-Mai says much more about my taste in music, and my general inability to remember the names of celebrities, than my value as a member of Quebec society.
I am also very uneasy with the mandate of the new minister of the Charter of the French Language, Diane De Courcy, who is to write a new Bill 101.
There has been talk of extending Bill 101 to CEGEP and two years ago Mr. Lisée proposed abolishing English CEGEPs altogether.
There has also been a suggestion of extending Bill 101 to businesses with as few as 11 employees. Sounds like a bad memory.
Premier Marois has already made good on some of her election promises.
She cancelled the university tuitionfee increase and some punitive sections of Law 12 (Bill 78).
She has ordered the closing of Quebec’s only nuclear reactor and postponed the reopening of Quebec’s last asbestos mining operation.
She has announced that the Transport Department will become an agency, where politicians won’t make the decisions on how money is spent, and she has promised to cancel the electricity rate hike, eliminate the $200-a-person health contribution/tax, invest in public transit (though this probably won’t benefit West Islanders), and ensure all Quebecers have a family doctor in four years.
It might all sound good, and it may be a winning strategy to gain a majority in the event of another election, but how is the government planning to pay for all this?
Membership in the Quebec nation is probably going to get a lot more expensive.
I have that uneasy feeling again …
Suzanne Korf is a professional fundraiser who has worked for non-profit organizations for more than 25 years. She is a director of development for The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. She is a mother of two and a resident of Pointe Claire since 1991.