Magazine article Inroads

Seeing Quebec with Clear Eyes: Reprise

Magazine article Inroads

Seeing Quebec with Clear Eyes: Reprise

Article excerpt

LAST FALL, IN INROADS 18, WE INTRODUCED READERS TO A JUST-PUBLISHED manifesto, For a Clear-Eyed Vision of Quebec (Pour un Québec lucide in French), the work of 12 prominent Quebecers including former Premier Lucien Bouchard. It warned of a threat to the very survival of Quebec as a vibrant distinct society in North America as a result of an aging population, mounting Asian competition in the global market and growing public debt. At the time we concluded, "In the short run, the manifesto changes little. But given its timing, its eloquence and the stature of its authors, its contentions are not likely to fade away."

Developments since have certainly shown this to be the case. The manifesto has given rise to a profound public debate, and its most prominent signatory, Lucien Bouchard, topped a Léger Marketing poll published in Le Devoir in early May that asked Quebecers whom they would most like to see as their premier - even though he had been out of politics for five years. Clearly, being identified with the positions expressed in the manifesto is, at the very least, not a deterrent to political popularity.

Opposition to the "Lucides" centred on the Manifesto for a Quebec Based on Solidarity, signed by 36 left-wing intellectuals and activists who "challenge the premises and reject the conclusions" of For a Clear-Eyed Vision of Quebec. As they put it, "Poor people are even poorer than they were ten years ago, and the rich are even richer. This is a real problem, one that has been partly created through tax reductions that benefit high-income taxpayers more, while the poor have to make do with poor wages or inadequate employment insurance or social assistance benefits. …

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