Monday, April 14, 2003

Election Day

Quebec voters head to the polls today to select a new provincial legislature. The incumbent governing party, the secessionist Parti Quebecois (PQ), is facing a stiff challenge from the provincial Liberal Party, led by Jean Charest, formerly the head of Canada’s Conservative party (don’t ask.) Complicating maters further is a third-party effort led by the Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ).

The PQ won the past two elections on the strength of their major issue: secession from Canada and the formation of an independent Quebec. But with tough economic times throughout Quebec and Canada, that message is no longer first on the minds of most voters. Now it’s all about the economy. Ironically, the PQ solution to economic problems is the same as that of English-speaking Canada: more socialism.

Indeed, the PQ’s latest election gimmick is a real doozy: imposing a four-day work week. This means businesses would have to pay employees for a five-day work week, but employees would only have to work four of them. This is supposed to support families, I think.

Maybe it’s the PQ’s new plan to get out of Canada; make the province so economically unproductive, that the rest of the country will ask them to leave. Then again, this being Canada, the four-day work week may catch fire and go national.

Even if Charest’s Liberals can wrest power from the PQ (and the Libs reportedly have a six-point lead in the polls) things won’t change much economically. The Liberals will simply maintain the socialist status quo. Even the ADQ, nominally a “right wing” party, has spent most of the election campaign touting new spending proposals, such as “investing $2.2 billion in families,” whatever that means. On the other hand, the ADQ is touting a school voucher plan that’s annoyed the head of the province’s teacher’s union, who argued vouchers would “set aside social solidarity aside [while] talking about freedom of choice.” So maybe Quebec has some hope.

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