Watching politics from the sideline, I am always amazed by the lack of fortitude of certain of our elected leaders. That a member of parliament would suggest that certain ideas and concept should be reviewed by the population directly always makes a mockery of what politicians are suppose to do.
The latest culprit here is called Bernard Drainville, an ex-journalist (who should know better). It is evident that his objective was maybe not to make referendum part of the every day life of those who live in Quebec, but it is the one that has reverberated the most in the news (and blogosphere). First of, it seems that Mr. Drainville is trying to position himself in the event of a new race to the leadership for the Parti Quebecois. Secondly, this was one of ten different suggestions he had to make the political class more popular.
The popular perception of Quebec’s political class is often created in Quebec City – where a particularly toxic form of talk radio exist (BTW it makes FOX look like a bunch of amateurs), and every single politician is assumed to be a crook and a liar – no proofs are required, every. Quebec radio is particular for an ability to make stuff up, a few months ago, the process of building a hospital was blamed on the Public, Private Partnership structure – it was never mentioned that the contract had not yet been awarded because no-one could agree on the site of the project… so how could a contactor be slow then?
The breakdown of the “souverainiste” movement cannot be underestimated. The defeated of the Bloc Quebecois in Ottawa earlier this summer was a stunning reversal to the movement. Moreover, an ex-pequist, Francois Legault, has been threatening to create of a new party – with no “independiste” strategy – and he has been poling around 35% (where as the PQ is polling around 12%), and he’s not even running. There is a lassitude on the subject of independence. Those who speak for the movement are all old, and the whole thing comes across as the issue of an older generation. Quebec’s youth are no longer interested in the debate. If you are a francophone in Quebec it is entirely possible (with no effort on your part) to live 100% in French.
The problem with referendums is that they allow politicians to walk away from the hard choices. California with its numerous direct “proposition” has allowed its political class to rake up a huge deficit, leaving to its citizen the obligation to make the hard decisions. Unfortunately, the public never agree to “Cod oil” solutions; Every time a political decision is put to a referendum the easiest solution is selected.
He also suggested that the leader of the government be directly elected, and then be free to select his minister from anywhere – replicating the American presidential system (because that’s been such a success). The one thing that Mr. Drainville has shown is that he’s got big brass balls – not the smartest kid on the block, but big shinny brass balls nevertheless!