I was raised in an extremely political family. We were all involved at some point in our lives in some way very deeply. It has been many years however since I became finally too disheartened with the shallowness of it all and walked away. Until very recently I never even looked back.
My father was the driving force behind it all in our family. The more opinions you had, the smarter you were. Dinners were often boisterous and slightly disturbing, but at least we were talking and thinking about things. Time with dad included everything from leadership conferences and conventions where everyone wore the same hat and cheered like crazy for the guy on stage who was saying the same shit he had said last week and the week before. We stuffed enveloped, kissed babies and opened doors for old people to help them vote. The life had its moments. Our family was liberal in party but conservative in attitude. Our neighbours were mostly liberals and were known not to like the ones that were “separatists” – wanting to separate our province form Canada. This was sacrilege.
Generally people in our west of the city suburban town were quietly in agreement with most things. It was a nice way to grow up, and there was a certain community camaraderie in these political ideas everyone had. There were a few “separatists” on our block, but we really ignored those people. And our living room was often full of loud opinionated politicians, everyone of them trying to “out-charisma” the other. So many of the big politicians were actually held up by an enormous machine of people behind them. I see now though that I was truly graced to have been weaned on the passionate emerging politics of french Canada in the 1970’s. Wer had superstars for politicians back then. I can assure you that although we are very different from our european ancestors, french people everywhere are passionate. We are passionate about our food, wine, sex and politics. I am somewhere in the middle…an english francophone in Quebec.
The english and french have really developed very differently in Quebec over the past 60 years, or since the “quiet revolution” as we would say. While the french really upheld the cultural, artistic, and religious aspects of the society, the english focused on finances and owning business and land. Eventually, there was a power shift because the (minority) english employed the french. The french began seeking even more deeply their “identity” through culture, religion, food and politics. Language was at the crux of how they identified themselves, which is why the topic is still hot. It is not a case of right or wrong, but of simple observation. The english hold in their tenet that “money is power”. Now, there are many power struggles. Where the english had always superior training and education (because of their money) now the government is trying to “even it all out” by lowering the bar so significantly on the english public school education standards that kids here may as well go sell shoes in the street – they would have a better chance at a future. What is happening now is so ridiculous…it woke me up. I was awoken at 3:00 am for the first time in my life with a concern for the possibility that Pauline Marois would be elected into office here in Quebec. This would be like voluntarily allowing a Nazi’s into office – and I am not meaning to sound trite because that is a very serious thing to say about anyone. She is responsible for laws that disrespect our basic human right to express ourselves in any way we want to or can. language is NOT AN ISSUE FOR THE GOVERNMENT. Why oh WHY are we allowing it?
It is a fact that over the past 30 years especially the world generally has made exceptional strides in tearing down some of our most extreme division both physical and conceptual: The Berlin Wall, Apartheid, Cold War, democratization of the muslim and asian worlds, women’s rights – the exponential growth of knowledge and the flow of communication through the internet has blown the mind of the world wide open. There is no more room for the old politics that tries to put up walls through telling people that they won’t be “themselves” if they don’t protect themselves.
But the trends of undoing the walls and limitations point to a tendency that the world is looking for more openness and less limitation. So what baffles me is how we can still be allowing a group of what seems to be potentially intelligent people who would wish to differentiate the value of a person by which language they speak is in my opinion not much different from a political leader differentiating people value based on their religious beliefs. But what can we do about it?? No one really has wanted to deal with this stuff in 39 years. Now…we are sitting at the brink of potential disaster.
The problem is twofold: 1- there is no one to represent properly the contrary view 2- there is a lack of youth coming up in the ranks. No one in the right mind says they want to grow up and be a politician, do they? People only develop a desire for politics when they start to believe that they are something special. Politics is a full on ego gratification game.
When I was young our family was a few times under threat. I was driven to school by an undercover police officer for a while in grade 7 and my friends thought I was incredibly cool. In grade 8 a french kid from a local public school broke the arm of a recently immigrated really hot little kid from australia who didn’t speak a word of french. We all chalked it up to the language issue in the province (it was probably a tiff on the soccer field). By recess the next day I had the entire school riled and ready to go. We were going to “fight” the french kids in the park down the hill at lunch time. We should up en force! Grade 4-11, a tiny little school, and me in the front. Luckily a teacher had heard wind of the impending train wreck, and was there to stop the whole ordeal. We all went home having saved face and I was suspended, and finally expelled. They decided a kid like me was too much trouble.
I was put to work in my father’s offices during one of the most passionate of all elections, the referendum of 1980 in Quebec, where we were deciding on whether or not Quebec should stay in Canada or should become an independent country. In this work I was able to witness a type of old school honor that I can see now no longer exists.
I believe in the possibility of a new kind of politics. The kind that puts reality ahead of ego, and the kind where everyone is welcome to be a part of the decisions and choices. I see a new kind of politics where this “preying on fear:, like Marois is doing with her language nazi friends is laughed out of the ring by the rest of us who know better. We don’t need a person like Pauline Marois who believes that it is too much of a bather for children to learn a second langauge if they already speak french. This is insane. There is no room for such backwards thinking today.
I’m not sure how to do it, but I need to wake A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE UP before the election next week.
Unfortunately, we all know you’ll probably have to vote liberal so you don’t split the vote. It kind of feels like we have no choices.
But after the election is where the hard work is going to start, because if we agree to elect jean charest in all his personal uselessness, it is up to us to stay on it and make sure we get what we want done in our political arenas.