Monday, February 06, 2006

The news in brief

The province lurches right...

Offering advice on how to lower Quebec's debt, business groups yesterday proposed higher charges for daycare and tuition, tolls on roads and bridges, and raising the provincial sales tax as Ottawa lowers its GST. [. . .] "What we are proposing is that the government should adopt a full strategy to reduce the debt, which would include a revision of the tax structure," a spokesperson said. This would also mean more reliance on a user-pays approach, for instance raising tuition fees.

...and dreams of a leader

Are the winds of political change whispering the name of someone that could turn the Liberal party fortunes around and handily defeat the PQ in this key election? If murmurs about Charest's leadership intensify, I predict one name is likely to emerge as a potential leader of the Liberal Party - Lucien Bouchard. Bouchard once claimed that "Canada is not a real country." Ironically, he could soon be anointed as the saviour of that same country he came so close to breaking up 10 years ago. His recently published manifesto For a Clear-Eyed Vision of Quebec is in many ways, a spring-board for a political comeback.

Meanwhile, the left regroups

Hundreds of delegates are gathering at the Universite de Montreal this weekend to found a new left-wing party that believes in Quebec independence, but not as its immediate priority. Unlike the Parti Quebecois, founded in 1968 as a left-right coalition committed to separation, the new formation is a blend of two leftist groups committed to social justice. [. . .] The new party hopes to attract progressive anglophones and allophones as well as francophones who support neither the Liberals nor the PQ, said Sujata Dey, of the Option Citoyenne co-ordinating committee.

And the anarchists...?

In a continent where safety trumps sensuality, this province is one of the last havens for anarchy and I'm strangely attached to it. Like many, I take a perverse pride in our town's crazy driving habits, pleased that Montreal and New York are the only cities that can't be trusted to make right turn on reds. I have trouble breathing in our smoky bars, but I also like their naughty image, the European devil-may-care attitude that reminds me that I'm in bar, not a church. What will come next in Quebec's journey from sensual to sensible? "OK, this is the poutine patrol speaking. We have this frites stand surrounded. Just put your gravy down - and walk away!"

N.B. All excerpts are taken from articles from The Montreal Gazette, which is, infuriatingly, subscriber-only.

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