Press-Republican

Black

April 4, 2014

Trench warfare in Quebec elections

I’ve seen many a Quebec election in my day (I’ll skip the “by cracky”).

Why, I’m old enough to remember the Big One back in ‘76, not exactly as if it was yesterday, mind you, but well enough to remember the collective “freak-out” it provoked outside Quebec when Rene Levesque’s Parti Quebecois swept to power.

I bet a lot of folks south of the border remember that, too. Maybe that election, the one that first brought “separatists” to power in the province, changed their lives.

I remember the most famous cartoon at the time: Terry Mosher of The Gazette’s portrait of Levesque, trademark smoke in hand, saying: “Everybody take a Valium.”

Since November 1976, there have been some milestone elections in this most distinct of provinces. There’s Liberal Robert Bourassa’s triumphant return to power in 1985 following a lengthy hiatus after losing to Levesque.

Then in 1994, Jacques Parizeau, the urbane, British-educated brainiac of the Quebec sovereignty movement, won a majority in the wake of a messy constitutional crisis. From day one as premier, he set to work preparing the ground for a referendum on independence that the Yes side lost by a hair a year later.

We flip ahead to 2003 when Liberal Jean Charest took over and presided over a nine-year period of relative peace, at least on matters relating to Quebec’s place in Canada.

And so we come to the present campaign that leads to Monday’s vote. It may have lacked the nail-biting drama of 1976 and 1994, or the end-of-an era feel to 1985 and 2003, but it had few rivals for its barroom-brawl ferocity, its bizarre episodes, its dramatic reversal of fortunes and ultimately, as one pundit put it, its absence of dreams.

To recap: Parti Quebecois premier Pauline Marois is seeking to replace her 18-month-old minority government with a majority; new Liberal leader Philippe Couillard is hoping to return his party to power and put a stop to the threat of a referendum on sovereignty under the PQ; and, Francois Legault, leader of the right-leaning Coalition Avenir Quebec wants to re-establish his party as a viable alternative to the Parti Quebecois and Liberals.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Black
  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg The friendly Commonwealth Games

    The 20th Commonwealth Games are now underway in Glasgow, Scotland, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Quebec's proliferation of festivals

    Woodstock en Beauce celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Quebec City's English paper a survivor

    In a city stocked with beautiful, interesting and historic buildings, the five-story gem located at perhaps the busiest corner in Old Quebec doesn't attract much attention, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadian hockey Kings

    As of this writing, the Los Angeles Kings have either already quaffed from their second Stanley Cup or are on the verge of closing out the New York Rangers, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    June 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Remembering the forgotten Empress

    The Titanic gets the most attention, what with the epic drama of the 1912 sinking of an incomparable luxury liner, stocked with celebrities, on its maiden voyage.

    May 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadians among TV conspirators

    Call me weird, paranoid, a child of Watergate and Contragate or just a connoisseur of tense political drama, but my current three favorite TV programs are about conspiracies in America, each in a different era of U.S. history, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Hurons gamble on Quebec

    When we were kids, our parents took us to visit Sainte Marie among the Hurons, the restoration of the settlement French missionaries built in 1639 in what is now central Ontario, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    May 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Trench warfare in Quebec elections

    I've seen many a Quebec election in my day (I'll skip the "by cracky"), writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo