Since the financial meltdown in 2008-09, Quebec has run massive deficits each year. The province is on track to add $53 billion to its total provincial debt -- a 35 per cent increase -- by the end of the year. But in the same period, Ontario under McGuinty and Wynne will add $120 billion to its debt -- a 71 per cent increase.
Quebec's new Minister of Health and Social Services, Gaétan Barrette, has longed to take this post for many years. He likely has a clearer vision of the changes he would like to make than the vision espoused by the Liberal Party during the election campaign. There are some projects that are top priority, in my view, because they will help right the ship, change the culture. I list five here.
There is a message from the Quebec election for Prime Minister Stephen Harper: ideas matter while dangerous, unfair ones will come back to haunt you. In a result few would have predicted at the outset, Quebec's Liberals unseated the reigning Parti Quebecois and won a solid majority after running a straightforward campaign of better government for a better economy. So what does this mean for the Harper government, which could take the country to the polls in the coming months? It will all come down to whether constituents, especially in vote-rich Ontario, are tired of the bad ideas and divisive overreach of their government in Ottawa.
The sky above Montréal is ominously grey. On social media, particularly Facebook, it's a different story. There's so much noise, so much anger, so much petulant giddiness. I'm severely disheartened to see so many friends, colleagues and acquaintances bursting with joy over the prospect of four years of majority Liberal rule.
As a proud Canadian, it bothers me that NDP leader Tom Mulcair -- who had no qualms about interfering in previous Ontario by-elections on the side of NDP candidates -- refused to take a side in the Québec election. The NDP dodged a bullet this time -- fortunately! -- but such an irresponsible position should not be rewarded in 2015.
Premier Marois sought to achieve her goals in spectacularly absurd fashion -- a separate country for French-Canadians and a ban on religious headgear for everyone else -- and on Monday, her extremism was rejected. Hardly definitively, however. The Parti Quebecois remains Quebec's official opposition, and the rise of new nationalist parties, coupled with a sharp split in the popular vote, suggests much of the Marois agenda has merely scattered elsewhere. More than a trace can even be found in Mr. Couillard.
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.
The last days of the provincial electoral campaign have made me feel people's disillusionment and frustration at the lack of inspiring options even more profoundly. During the debates Marois, Couillard, and Legault behaved like they were in a cage fight, barking insults at one another. It took all the self-restraint that I had not to switch channels. But, contrary to everything around me, I'm hopeful. I'm convinced that I'm witnessing a new breed of Quebecer emerge. One that isn't so easily defined... and therefore not as easy to manipulate and pigeonhole. Nothing will ever be as black or white as it once was, because the world we now live in is a million shades of grey.