Then finally -- the Quebec provincial election begins.
Earlier today, Premier Jean Charest walked to the mansion of Lt. Gov. Pierre Duchesene to dissolve his government and call an election on September 4. This ended his third term as Quebec's top political leader and he will be seeking his fourth. I hope he is reelected.
This time -- according to polls, he is tied with the Parti Quebecois Pauline Marois for what looks like a certain minority government. Coalition Avanir Quebec 's (CAQ) Francois Legault is expected to play a significant role should there be a minority government. For the two leading candidates, they are also set to make a historic milestone to the provinces political journey.
Of the 29 Quebec premiers, there had never been a woman premier and Mariois has a chance to make history. If Charest was to pull the unlikely feat of being reelected, his achievement would be matched only to that of two former Quebec Premiers -- Lomer Gouin in 1919 and Louis -- Alexandre Taschereau in 1935.
Gouin has served Canada and Quebec with distinction. After his fourth and final term, he quit provincial politics to join federal politics. He served as Justice Minister in the Government of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and for a brief two months as Lieutenant Governor of Quebec before he scrambled to his death unexpectedly.
For Taschereau, who enjoyed a successful four back to back elections, he contributions and ultimate down fall were both noted. He helped introduce the Jewish board and in turn allowed the affluent Jewish population and a say in the highest decision-making educational body in Quebec -- the Quebec Council of Public Instruction. He also allowed the sale of alcohol trade in the governments domain during the Prohibition in the United States.
Then he was forced to resign in a scandal after his own brother was involved in money laundering by depositing the interests of funds belonging to the Legislative Assembly in to his personal account. For a brief time, this ended the Liberal dynasty and halted their successful rule for a brief moment.
For the 29th Premier of Quebec, he has a chance to follow in the foot steps of either of these men. Charest has dedicated all his adult life to public service. He was an MP at 26, and chosen as a Junior Minister at only 28.
Then, at only 31, he was made the minister of the Environment and this made him the (still ) the youngest cabinet minister in Canadian history.
In 1991, he was appointed as Minister of the Environment and represented Canada skillfully at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development aka the Rio Summit.
In 1993, he became Canada's youngest Deputy Prime Minister at the young age of 34 -- yet another historic milestone.
When his now defunct - Progressive Conservative Party -- was whipped out and humiliated with only two seats -- he held one of the seats along with Elsie Wayne of New Brunswick. During the Quebec referendum, he played a prominent role often using his own passport to demonstrate his dedication to his Canadian citizenship. In 1998, he joined provincial politics and was elected to his current position in 2003.
As Premier, he has had many challenges yet he has been a success. He has been a great advocate for rights and environmentally conscious. Under his leadership, Québec is a leader in the field of the environment and sustainable development in North America and globally.
The issue of Quebec's place in confederation as well as the student strike is still a burning issue in the province and he is well equipped to address them. The PQ is intent on breaking up the country while the CAQ is sending a confusing signal where they stand on the issue of separation and Charest and the Quebec Liberals are the only ones who are the only viable federalist party in Quebec.
"There are two visions that will stand opposed to each other, and Quebec citizens, when an election is called, will ultimately have to decide in which kind of society they want to live," he told reporters in Sherbrooke.
The vision of Jean Charest is best -- not just for Quebec but for Canada. He is the dean of Canada's surviving distinct (Progressive) Conservative tradition that has built Canada over the years.
I hope he is re-elected.
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