The raison d’etre for Quebec Premier Pauline Marois and her band of provocative Pequistes is Quebec independence.
But several major obstacles lay in Marois’ way to The Promised Laine (pure) of Quebec Sovereignty.
Marois and her supporters are getting a little long in the tooth. Some of these old PQ war horses have been fighting this battle since the 1970s and they are getting tired. The younger French Quebecois generations do not seem to share the same fire in the belly.
Or the same anger at the rest of Canada. Or the same desire to break with the rest of Canada and take a giant leap of faith into Quebec independence, regardless of the financial, social and political consequences. And probably significant personal and financial sacrifices.
Also there is the little matter of the Marois government being a minority government and sitting at 29% in the latest CROP poll while the provincial Liberals are at 40%.
As a minority government the Marois government cannot bring forward another sovereignty referendum without the support of one of the other Quebec parties. Currently, an unlikely proposition.
So Marois and her party must come up with a popular sure-fire policy or program that will energize her French Quebec base and secure her a majority government in the next provincial election. And also provide Bouchard’s famous “winning conditions” for a successful referendum leading to Quebec independence.
The Quebec economy is sputtering along. Quebec is suffering from a huge debt and heavy debt payments, so Marois does not have the fiscal means to pull a financial rabbit out of her hat. And kick start the Quebec economy and create much-needed jobs.
Her only real option is to stir up her French Quebec base with a controversial wedge issue.
Note when Marois tried to hype the boogeyman of the French language being under attack, by trying to rewrite Bill 101, her efforts gained little traction with the French Quebec electorate.
Probably because the bad old Anglo bosses and a large portion of the Anglo community have left the building and the province of Quebec many years ago.
Instead, it appears that Marois is now trying to frighten French Quebec voters into believing that the growing communities of Quebec Muslims, Jews and Sikhs are threatening to impose their cultures and religious beliefs on French Quebecers and threaten the identity of French Quebecers.
During last year’s provincial election campaign, Marois often implied that French Quebec’s cultural heritage and identity were under assault, when she stated, “We do not have to apologize for who we are. ”
There is precedent for Marois playing this despicable identity card.
Recall the now defunct ADQ, led by Mario Dumont, in the 2007 Quebec election, appealed to the basest instincts of the Quebec electorate when he publicly came out against the French Quebec majority being forced to make religious accommodations to Quebec’s religious minorities.
Dumont and his ADQ led his nativistic movement to a near election win, and catapulted ahead of the PQ as Quebec’s main opposition party. In that election, the PQ sidestepped the issue, and as a result, the PQ suffered its worst electoral defeat in years.
The lessons of that election debacle were not lost on Marois and her PQ cabinet.
Marois and her senior Cabinet ministers may be odious, but they are not politically stupid.
They read the polls. They know what has political appeal.
A recent government-commissioned opinion poll suggests there could be a political payoff. On a scale of one to 10, the average respondent ranked religious accommodation as “problem” at 6.5.
So it appears that in a few weeks, the Marois government will unveil its new Charter of Quebec Values.
The most controversial aspect of the proposal is a ban on public servants wearing religious symbols.
Hijabs, kippas, turbans and conspicuous crucifixes would be off-limits for everyone working in and for public institutions, including hospitals, health clinics, schools, universities, courts and government offices, and including daycare workers, teachers, instructors, professors, doctors, nurses, police, firemen and liquor-store clerks.
The effect of this proposal will be to prevent observant Jews, Sikhs, and Muslims from working in any Quebec public institution. It may even prevent these observant people from using certain public services, as clearly their religious symbols and beliefs are not welcome.
This disgusting proposal is clearly contrary to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees the freedom of expression and religion. And hence illegal.
But apparently, Marois and her people do not care.
I think that Marois is hoping that these proposals will create a terrible backlash in the rest of Canada.
Then Marois could accuse, as she has done in the past, the rest of Canada, of Quebec bashing.
I predict Marois will try to exploit the “victim” card, by campaigning against the ” threatening” religious minorities in Quebec and the anti-Quebec forces in the rest of Canada.
In the hope she can rally her French troops to a majority electoral victory and ultimately a successful referendum to take Quebec out of Canada.
In a subsequent article, I hope to suggest how we, in the rest of Canada, can effectively respond to Marois’ evil ploy to discriminate against vulnerable Quebec religious minorities. And Marois’ efforts to exploit French Quebec’s insecurities relating to its culture and identity.