Jean Charest, leader of the Quebec Liberal Party, at a press conference on Monday the August 27, 2012. Quebecers will vote for a new premier on September 4.
Credits: DIDIER DEBUSSCHERE/QMI Agency
This wild election campaign might even reshape the political landscape of English Quebec. Seats that have been Liberal since the beginning of Confederation are now becoming highly contested.
The theme of corruption and collusion is making many faithful Liberals reconsider their loyalty. Many well-known anglophones wonder if they shouldn't vote CAQ this time around in an effort to block the PQ.
Liberal Premier Jean Charest feels the heat. He is currently spending time on the West Island of Montreal and the Outaouais (Ottawa's north shore). These constituencies, in the past, only got a courtesy visit in the first days of Charest's campaign. Liberals now even spend money on English television spots. If the Liberals lose some battles in their anglo-strongholds, they could end up with less than 30 of the 125-seat rich National Assembly.
Skillful CAQ leader and former PQ minister, François Legault, made a clear commitment two weeks ago that he would vote No if a referendum were to be held. It reassured a few federalists and makes it easier for many to abandon Quebec's Liberals.
It seems no one is voting with their heart or with conviction anymore. Everything is about strategic voting these days in la belle province. Which of the three main parties do you hate the least - or which one do you hate the most and need to block at any cost? Answering that question seems to dictate your electoral behaviour.
Thank goodness we are so busy trying to figure out who has the smallest chance of getting elected in our neck of the woods that we have no time to get involved in the latest media war between Quebec and the Rest of Canada.
Over the last few days, in the main English-Canadian dailies, accusations of "xenophobia" and racism against Quebec have been quite numerous. Let's concede they were well-fed by PQ Leader Pauline Marois, who wants to extend the law that currently forces students to attend elementary school and high school in French to French CEGEPs (equivalent to the last year of secondary school and first year of university).
She even considered, until she backtracked 24 hours later, imposing a French proficiency test on anyone running for office.
Portraying all Quebecers as bigots led Journal de Montreal columnist Sophie Durocher to write that English newspapers are moving from Quebec bashing to Quebec hating. She rightly pointed out that it is pure frenzy to blame the whole population of Quebec for over-the-top statements made by desperate politicians on the campaign trail.
Calm down. Let's all focus on the ballot boxes that are now looking more and more like cracker-jack boxes.