Our province is shaken. Our country is shaken. Quebec’s provincial election took place yesterday, and no political party emerged victorious. The Parti Québecois ended up with a minority government, the Liberals lost their 9-year stronghold on the province, the newly formed Coalition Avenir Québec won far fewer seats than predicted, and Québec Solidaire added one more seat to their existing one. No one feels good with any of these election results, but the people of my beautiful city and province are hurting more than any of their “leaders.”
This election saw its leaders use fear-mongering as campaign tools, especially Pauline Marois, the PQ leader. She spouted a pretty blatant disregard for anyone living in or coming to live in the province who isn’t French-born. Under the guise of protecting the French language, she succeeded in dividing people. English vs. French, Québecois vs. Canadian, me vs. you. She wasn’t the only one. Almost all the leaders degraded themselves and insulted their electors by using fear to sway votes. This behaviour is unacceptable, and the election results show that no one emerged as a true leader. No one emerged as the face that we, the people, want to represent us. We ended up the lesser of many evils, and evils they are. But despite what the leaders think of us, we’re not stupid.
After the results had come in, a man came to where Pauline Marois’ was giving her victory speech and shot two people, then set fire to a dumpster just outside of the building. He was anglophone, yelling that “the anglos are waking up”. The man was believed to be mentally unstable. We are not. Let’s not forget that.
I was absolutely not surprised that this anger was directed at Pauline Marois and the PQ. Don’t misinterpret what I’m writing: I do not condone this type of behaviour. Violence and hatred beget violence and hatred. I have no interest in seeing people’s opinions rise up in anger fuelled by hatred. I do, however, think that what happened last night was to be expected: Pauline Marois, love her or hate her, is divisive. She was throughout her campaign, and will continue to be throughout her time as Premiere of Québec. She would like to separate English from French, Québec-born from immigrants, Québec from Canada. This is not my opinion that I’m spouting, this is and always has been her agenda. When a leader spouts disdain and dislike towards any group of people, there is bound to be an equal or greater reaction. Last night’s attack was a reaction. A badly thought-out (if thought-out at all) one.
I refuse to let this shooter speak for me, an English-speaking Québecois. I spend my life trying to bring people together, and when I see people in power working against that, trying to separate us, I get fuelled up to work even harder to diffuse any divisive behaviour. Pauline Marois may not even realize how damaging her division tactics are proving to be, but regardless of who we voted for, regardless of whether or not we believe in Québec as a sovereign nation, regardless of whether or not we speak English or French, we all know one thing: we are stronger together. There will always be troublemakers stirring it up. There will always be a shooter. There always has been and there always will be. The character of a group of people will never be defined by one person, it will be defined by the masses. The shooter last night is not us. Stop buying into what these political parties want you to believe. We are not English or French, we are not federalists or separatists, we are not Liberals, Péquistes or Caquistes. We are Québecois. We are human. We all want freedom and security. All of us. The true show of character will be in how we react to what happened yesterday. We need to be responsible in our reaction. Let’s not add fuel to the fire and allow the chasm between us to continue to grow. We are stronger together. We need each other, because if we continue to allow ourselves to be separated, then the politicians win. I will not allow any politician to act in any hurtful or divisive way and pretend to be speaking for me. I have my own voice, as do my friends. I know that when I hang out with my friends, I am hanging out with all different political views and languages, but regardless of all that, we love each other. I love this city. I love this province. I will not let things get out of control. Stop pointing the finger of blame at someone else and re-direct it to yourself. If this becomes a state of emergency, it’s because we let it happen. We have the choice as to how this plays out. We are either together or we’re not. I vote for together. I always have, and I always will. What are you voting for?