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Quebec election 2012 – Opinion and rant

August 29, 2012

The fact is, the Quebec election 2012 results will disappoint us, and ultimately go against citizens’ best interests no matter who wins. Jaded? You bet.

Yesterday as I was driving off from the bank, I caught the trailing end of a political commercial on the radio that ended with “What kind of Quebec do you want?”

It is so tempting to answer that question unbound by political partisanship, free from the old rivalries of linguistic division that threaten the social stability of this province. So I think I’m going to.

The kind of Quebec I want is one where the government, having derived its power from the electorate, acts in their best interest. It’s a practically revolutionary thought. I want a government that puts the future of the citizens first, before personal wealth, before corporate interests, before party agendas. I want a government whose motivations can be trusted, and a bureaucracy that is streamlined to provide services, even if that means fewer services, rather than bloated to the point of paralysis and uselessness. I want accountability from politicians to the electorate.

In fact it’s not just that kind of Quebec that I want, but that kind of Canada. And I don’t just want it, I demand it. Just so that we’re clear, this is not the kind of Quebec we have today.

I demand that the political class be accountable for their decisions made without consultation, especially when those decisions abridge our rights, go against their campaign promises or worse yet, sell out our country. Not in the next fiscal year, not in the next house cycle, not at the next election. Right now!

If a government imposes a law that most citizens find reprehensible, I want an immediate remedy available to citizens. We need an immediate remedy, similar to impeachment. A population shouldn’t have to revolt to protest mismanagement and lies. They shouldn’t have to take up arms (or pots) against the people they elected. They should fire them. There should be mechanisms of dissent in place, and if that dissent is, in fact, the overwhelming majority of the population, there should be remedies available. Politicians are eminently replaceable. Maybe we need a system of runner-ups: screw up, your job goes to the next in line.

If a government colludes with foreign investors to sell the sovereign rights and resources of our country, we should not have to wait until the next election cycle to reverse the transaction or depose them, nor should they be able to easily escape prosecution with their ill-gotten gains by quoting secrecy, getting re-elected before the investigation is completed, or calling on their corporate criminal friends to give them nice cushy post-office jobs in return for altering laws in their favour. The consequences of betraying your country and your charge of defending citizens’ rights should be devastating; seizure of all assets and property for a start, exile, maybe even extended or lifetime jail sentences. It should be so ruinous that no politician would dare contemplate it. It should ruin their whole families and their prospects for generations, like murder or aggravated robbery does. Because really, this is the same thing, and on a scale many times more significant.

We entrust these people with our futures, our lives, our livelihoods, and time and again we are betrayed. Our only recourse is to vote for the next bunch of criminals, and give them a turn at the trough; stuffing themselves while we find scraping by increasingly difficult. The Conservatives screwed us on taxes? Vote in the liberals. The Liberals screwed us on our rights and our national resources? Vote in the Parti Québecois. The PQ ruin our economy with another referendum? Vote in the CAQ. It’s a carousel of failure. We alternate between bad, bad and worse while they ride by in their gilded horses… Up… Down… Up… Down.

I’m willing to bet that behind every victory there’s a bunch of crooked politicians celebrating with champagne thinking “All right! It’s our turn to milk this office dry! We’re gonna be rich, guys!” Where are the idealists, where are the honest people? Oh, right. They don’t have financial backing and they don’t rise in the ranks of their party…

Perhaps we need to do away with parties altogether, and just elect independent individuals. Perhaps if it was called the “Jean Charest” party, he would be more inclined not to sully his own name, assuming he has any personal pride left. Perhaps if it was just the “Pauline Marois” party, she would clarify her personal position, and let us know what she stands for and what she will do, if elected, rather than tell each audience a different story, according to the latest poll data.

In theory, a politician representing his riding engages himself to service; the best service he can give in the best interest of the citizens he must represent. Instead many of them seem to treat it as having won the lottery instead. Worse, I have the distinct feeling that some of them think “I fooled them all! Suckers!” then immediately proceed to stuff their pockets. Within weeks of elections, the scandals begin all over again.

I demand that politicians be held accountable to the promises and representations they make during their election campaign, and that their failure should be costly and their wilful failure be career-ending.

On the rare occasions that I talk to my friends about politics, and the Quebec election 2012 specifically, I  get a lot of counter-arguments that the kind of direct democracy I’m alluding to doesn’t work because the average person isn’t qualified to make judgments of where money should be spent, isn’t smart enough to fully understand policy, and that we are so many that the Athenian ideal of accountability can’t happen today because we don’t really know the candidates we’re supporting in the first place.

While those arguments aren’t completely devoid of validity, instead of saying “the average person doesn’t understand” I would say “we need to educate the average person” and that it is precisely because we don’t personally know the candidates that we need a way to cut their careers short should they prove to be bad guys.

If you betrayed the electorate in ancient Athens they would throw you into a spiked pit in the morning and have another election that afternoon. Today, with Internet technologies, I’m betting we could have another government inside of 48 hours.

There is a crisis of confidence in Quebec about our politicians. We don’t like them. We don’t want them. They don’t do their jobs, and there’s nothing we can do about it. There’s nothing we can do about them. Not in the current system, because the problem isn’t that the criminals are getting elected, it’s that the system allows them to be elected in the first place, and once they’re unmasked there’s nothing you can do about them until the next election.

The democratic system needs to be updated with Internet-speed accountability, with independent media (independent of private interest) whose job it is to explain the issues and provide unbiased facts that are researched properly, sourced correctly and with a WikiLeaks-type transparency that should make it impossible and unthinkable to do a back-room deal that undermines our rights, resources, economy and prosperity in the service of a minority. Open their emails and text messages, watch them, and call them on lies instantly.

Who polices these elected officials, anyway? Who can police them, when the RCMP backs off from investigating a known criminal because he was seen chatting with the Prime Minister during an election year? I’m not even sure if that association disparages the criminal, or the Prime Minister anymore. Maybe the corrupt construction boss should keep better company.

So in this election, I plan to spoil my ballot and write “NO CONFIDENCE” on it. It’s a symbolic gesture, I know, and ultimately a futile one, but one that needs to be made regardless, because in this Quebec election 2012 I can’t bring myself, in good conscience, to vote for any of the candidates available to me. Maybe if we all did it it would be like a brief moment of fear for them, like when you suddenly realize you’re standing on the edge of a precipice.

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