The Voice of the People
Christopher C. Goodfellow
December 1 1998

The real winner yesterday in Quebec was democracy.

People do strange things in the voting booth. Standard deviations skew. The pollsters who gave the PQ a 5% plus lead in popular vote were wrong and have egg on their faces. In fact, it raises the question whether polls should be published during future campaigns. For too long the media and pollsters have attempted to manipulate public opinion.

The people of Quebec have spoken. As Mario Dumont pointed out in his victory speech, two parties lost popular votes yesterday and one party gained a lot of credibility and doubled its popular support. This is more than a statement of disaffected voters from the other parties, it is a statement of change. It is a statement of arrival. Almost half a million Quebeckers chose to support the ADQ. It is a foundation for future growth of this party that represents a true break from the past. We shall hear more from Mr. Dumont.

Mr. Bouchard, in his victory speech, said the people of Quebec had shown confidence in the PQ. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it was a defeat. A big defeat. The popular vote actually favors the Liberals by about 24,000 votes. It is a message to Bouchard that Quebeckers are not ready to embark on a new referendum and he is only continuing as Premier of Quebec thanks to very skillful gerrymandering that favours the PQ in rural ridings.

Even though the PQ won 75 seats versus the 48 for the Liberals, it is a fallacy to view this as a mandate whatsoever to pursue anything else except good government. He certainly has no mandate to put together the "winning conditions" or any other monkey business.

What this vote also tells us is that there is an urgent need in Quebec to examine a new type of representation that would more truly reflect the popular vote. The ADQ took 11.6% of the popular vote and they only have one seat. It is fundamentally wrong. In order for Quebec to be truly a democratic state as Mr. Bouchard is so fond of saying, Quebec should adopt a proportional representation system.

As for Mr. Bouchard he should now try and become the Premier of all Quebeckers as he stated is his intention in his victory speech. His short convoluted statement in english directed to a concerned anglophone population should be clarified at the earliest opportunity. It appeared to be once again one of his adroit attempts to be everything to everybody all of the time. Was it verbiage or is it a true offer to make Quebec society more inclusive? Only actions will tell.

Actions like more hiring of minorities in the public service. Freedom of choice for schooling. Getting health care access plans in place. Recognizing that Montreal is a modern cosmopolitan city and not a unilingual backwater. These are the actions that will prove intentions. Actions not broken promises.

In light of yesterday's result, Mr. Bouchard surely must be intelligent enough to understand that Quebec will never be united with the spectre of sovreignty in the background. The fact the vote split almost evenly (as did the vote in the referendum of 1995) says it all...Quebeckers are not agreed on anything at the present time except that an increasing number enjoy Mr. Dumont's tune.

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