I’m voting for the Bloc Québécois this federal election. Who doesn’t want to be a part of a country, province or amusement park (whatever you want to call it) with a coke-snorting gay party boy as president? Like us, Quebec has free healthcare, but they’ve also got free daycare, liberal booze laws, much higher arts funding, a long tradition of gay and lesbian rights, a belief in military nonintervention and hardy old ladies with a penchant for beehives and DuMaurier cigarettes.
But I’m being silly, irrational. The provincial separatist Parti Québécois led by la ‘mo André Boisclair is not the federal obstructionist Bloc Québécois led by Gilles Duceppe. But if anyone can tell me what Bloc members actually do besides trying to disrupt the business of Parliament while taking home the $144,000 basic salary for MPs, then we can start talking about reason and rationality. We’re discussing Ottawa, where 1 + 1 = $100-million in sponsorship funds.
And I live in Toronto; I can’t vote for the Bloc.
Pity us poor queers in English Canada. We all know that letting the Liberals rule forever breeds complacency and corruption. They need to be smacked around a little. It’s likely the country is going to give Stephen Harper and the Conservatives the paddle. Too bad the rest of us are along for the ride. Talk about nonconsensual SM (oh, please, let it be a little, minority paddle). The NDP with Jack “Tom Of Finland” Layton is a great progressive option, but one that may never gain enough wrist strength nationally.
There is another palatable choice, however, a left-leaning alternative — the Bloc.
Let’s make the 50-odd BQ members — up to a max of 75 after this election — start earning their keep. Let them run the federal government. I have no qualms about being ruled by Quebecers. Better them than rightwing yahoos. Give Quebecers the power they’ve always wanted; give them even more. What better way to address the vibrant historical sense of grievance, of betrayal, felt by most French-speaking Quebecers — it might be the only way.
The power of powerlessness is a concept stretching back from marriage counsellors and 12-step programs to Christ and Buddha. How do we maintain control of our country? By giving up control.
Those opposed to a radical realignment of the federation champion equality: Every province and citizen should have the same rights and obligations. They give no credence to Quebecers’ claim to difference. So let’s agree with the position of these opponents. If Quebecers are the same as us, what’s the difference between them ruling us and us ruling ourselves? We are all equal after all.
Blasphemy, you scream? Relax. The Bloc can’t actually trigger separation.
But radical change to the federation is coming. Pretending otherwise won’t stop it.
After this election, our best-case scenario is another minority. If we can avoid the disaster of a Conservative majority, however, we will be left with two incredibly unstable options: a second Liberal minority with little moral clout, or a new Conservative minority with no Parliamentary allies. Despite the term, hung Parliaments are not a good thing. The less Parliament works, the more viable Quebec’s separation will seem. Parties from English Canada, especially the NDP and progressive Liberal members, need to see the Bloc as partners, to find common ground. That’s what happened with the same-sex marriage vote, with a divided Liberal government requiring the support of 43 Bloc members, compared to 17 NDP members, to get passage of Bill C-38.
Let’s hope the Tories don’t break through in Quebec; queers and other lefties are going to need those 75 potential Bloc seats in the next Parliament.
Prime Minister Paul Martin is right. This election is about core Canadian values. Budget-slashing social conservatism is not Canadian… but neither is one-party rule. The choice is obvious: My Canada is Quebec.
Vive le Canada libre.