Jacques Parizeau was a passionate and principled man who believed in Quebec's independence, but he was at times a divisive politician. Judging by the many hateful comments I saw last night, his "money and the ethnic vote" speech after the razor-thin Quebec independence referendum loss in 1995 will continue to haunt his legacy. The over-the-top indignation I'm seeing from some is getting on my nerves. Is that one sentence from 20 years ago the only thing some of you can remember from his entire political legacy? Parizeau was so much more than just a rant, more than just one ugly moment in time.
Jacques Parizeau was Quebec Premier for merely 16 months, but he was a great servant of the state and, above all, one of the foremost builders of modern Quebec. He was one of the founding members of Parti québécois in 1968-1969, alongside Mr. Lévesque who had just stormed out of the Quebec Liberal Party. "Monsieur," as everyone called him, was a statesman; he truly had the interest of the public at heart in the noblest sense of the expression. The interest of the state came before his own. That is something that is becoming extremely rare in politics nowadays.
Well, cross another one off the bucket list, as last Monday I made my debut as a TV political commentator. Given my career path and my reputation, the aforementioned gig seems strange and incongruous. But those who know me know my political passion, especially these days as Quebec and Montreal try to redefine their places in a rapidly-changing world.
Please let Quebec choose a government that will represent values of inclusion, acceptance, and freedom. Let Quebec be a province where we can raise our children not only to respect, but to honour diversity. Let Quebec be more like my daughter's school -- a place where we can thrive and become better people.
Recently, a former Quebec journalist argued that Canada's mainstream broadcasters were hypocritical for seeming to lend a sympathetic ear to those opposing the proposed Charter of Values. "Not a kippa, hijab, cross or turban in sight. Religious symbols are, quite simply, not part of the TV news uniform; never have been," wrote Micheal Dean in the Globe and Mail. And while he's right in that there are few Canadian journalists sporting symbols of their faith, the premise for his argument needs to be turned on its head. Rather than justify the Parti Québécois's bid to limit freedom of religion in its public institutions, the media's lack of representation of diverse communities must be called out for what it is: a letdown for democracy.
As citizens of the "free world" -- North Americans, at least -- we have a great power bestowed upon us: the right to vote. Yet this basic right is often taken for granted. Understandably, enacting one's support for politicians can be frustrating, but fundamentally they are chosen by us to manage our tax dollars. And listen up: you pay taxes.