5. They want to control what you wear
Yes, I'm talking about the Quebec Charter of Values. It will allow the state to tell you what you can and cannot wear as well as what you can and cannot say. As one Prince Arthur Herald editorial also described, it won't only affect people who are religious; it will impact everyone, including by amending the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. This divisive and xenophobic law - which will doubtlessly be brought up often during the campaign, given that promoting fear in voters has been shown to help win elections - would run directly counter to both the Quebec and the Canadian charters of rights and freedoms. If the PQ gets re-elected on April 7, the Charter will make its way into law. This is the same government that tried to ban turbaned children from playing soccer, so you can count on many more weird and ridiculous attacks on individual liberty from the PQ, both during the election and afterwards.
4. A stronger OQLF is waiting on the other side
If elected, the PQ has said it will bring back Bill 14, the proposed law that people were outraged with before they were outraged at the Charter, and even before they were outraged with Turbangate. Bill 14 would force small businesses previously exempt from certain language restrictions into following them, hurting many start-ups and small shops run by minorities. This attack on small businesses must have the Office québécois de la langue française, our language police, foaming at the mouth, excited for a new mandate and a new group of citizens to hassle. They've already been more active since the PQ's victory in 2012, nitpicking the most ludicrous "violations" of Bill 101. I don't need to mention Pastagate, the jaw dropping accusation that made Quebec international news for a few weeks.
The OQLF has also targeted a Plateau bike shop for displaying decorative signs written in foreign languages; they went after a movie theatre for using the term "popcorn" instead of the OQLF-approved maïs soufflé; a restaurant received a visit from the Office for having the chef's grocery list - outside of public view - in English and for having "on/off" labeled on their water tap; and the list goes on.
More recently the OQLF sent a letter to the owner of a Facebook page demanding it be translated to French, even though Facebook was outside of the OQLF's jurisdiction. More confusingly, they recently targeted a production company's website for using the term 'Productions' twice in their logo (it's spelled the same in French and in English, and having it twice is bilingually correct). If you're confused, so am I.
If another OQLF-friendly government is put in place, you can expect more taxpayer money to fund these shenanigans, a nice bonus added to their already incredible $24 million dollar budget.
3. The PQ targets uninformed voters
During the 2012 general election, seventy per cent of young Quebecers made their way to the ballot box, a high percentage for a normally apathetic group. Part of the reason then was the backlash against Jean Charest's Liberal government and their planned tuition hikes. At the ballot box, students voted en masse to put the Parti Québécois, the only major party against the hikes, in power. Of course, this was all for naught since the PQ eventually introduced indexation on tuition rates, but they were an easy group to win over in exchange for political power.
A very large group of students voted solely on the single issue of tuition in favour of a party that exists solely to bring independence to Quebec. Had these students simply stayed at home, the PQ probably wouldn't have won their minority. Had students voted on more than just the issue of tuition - like the actual quality of education, the state of the economy, social issues, and separatism - they probably wouldn't have won either. The point is that the PQ will make this election about identity, a topic that covers more electoral ground than solidarity with the students did in 2012. The central plank of their platform with revolve around the Charter of Values and sovereignty, two populist issues in which people decide their position based on emotion rather than logic and facts. And you can't have a proper debate with close-minded people whose reasoning is illogical.
2. It's the economy, tabarnak
PQ supporters will talk a lot about the Marois government's record of economic responsibility over the next few weeks under the belief that the more you repeat something, the more people will believe in its truth. Don't buy it. Quebec's debt hovers around $264 billion (representing a staggering 72.5 per cent of our GDP) and is climbing by $23 million every day. Next year, another $10.2 billion will be added to the debt. In a recent editorial, the PAH showed that even the PQ's attempt to create an economically-responsible budget is a sham. Government spending is rising and our credit rating could fall if we don't meet certain fixed economic targets. The editorial board also regretfully concluded that "the rise in spending and taxes is a structural problem that neither the Parti Québécois nor the Liberals are capable of addressing. For lack of will or ability, both of these parties have rendered themselves complicit in the chronic indebtedness of Quebec, which will in all likelihood be paid for by the youth of today and tomorrow."
1. There will be a referendum
Since 1968, the PQ's sole reason to exist has been to separate from Canada. Yet yesterday, several media outlets reported that "Pauline Marois Won't Rule Out Referendum." Every block of time that the PQ has been in power, there has been a referendum; there would be something amiss if this wasn't the case. Support for Quebec independence currently stands at 34%, with an unnerving 15% of Quebecers undecided, according to a recent poll in the Journal de Montreal. Yet the time is ripe for a vote. Why else would she want an election now? Nearly twenty years have passed since the last referendum, the No side lacks any enthusiastic leadership in the province, and Marois still has time to frame independence as freedom from the unpopular Harper federal government, at least until late 2015. Marois will not want to be seen as the only PQ leader to have a prime opportunity for independence at her fingertips without grasping it.
This article originally appeared in thePrince Arthur Herald