Was this Quebec election the most negative ever?

Pauline_Marois-2013

Well, that was quite a barrel of monkeys wasn’t it folks?  Quebec’s elections are finally coming to a close, and, though I never thought I would be writing these words, I actually agree with Pauline “the concrete lady” Marois when she lamented the election’s overall tone calling these past four weeks “the most negative campaign ever!”  That’s as it may be, but if I learned one thing from working the phones for the Liberal Party of Quebec these past few weeks (long story), it’s that the source of much of that negativity was, SHOCK HORROR: Pauline herself!  Along with many of her star candidates, the Pequistas, were among the most savage of this election’s crop of politicians vying for seats in the National Assembly.  The following blog is my personal account of the lowlights of the most negative election in Quebec history ever.

Let’s begin with biggest loon of the election: PQ candidate for Gouin – Louise Mailloux, a philosophy teacher at that venerable institution of higher learning CÉGEP Vieux Montréal who has some rather un-kosher views on religion.  She initially refused to apologize for her hateful comments on Islam and Judaism, with regards to her crackpot conspiracy theory about the profits from halal and kosher foods being used to fund religious fundamentalism all over the world.  However, after tremendous pressure from the media and religious groups she conceded that her comments might have offended some religious types and that was never her intention.  Worse yet, Madame Pauline, refused to sack Mailloux and instead attempted to defend her ugly views on the grounds that it was protected by freedom of speech!  The real reason that Marois stood by her woman probably had more to do with trying to salvage a campaign that was too important (Gouin is currently held by Francoise David, the leader of arch rival Québec Solidaire) to throw under the bus.

The PQ was also behind one of the more hysterical accusations of the election.  Justice Minister Bertrand St Arnaud tried to whip Quebec nationalists into a frenzy over alleged electoral fraud involving masses of Ontario students being bused in to Quebec to steal the election for the federalists.  This prompted an almost unprecedented intervention from the chief electoral officer, a non-partisan government official whose job it is to ensure that all parties abide by the rules, who flatly contradicted the story cooked-up by the PQ in their repeated attempts to flip the script on the referendum question that haunted them for much of the campaign.  On the other hand, a judge did rule in favour of 5 students from outside of Quebec (including one candidate for the Quebec Green Party) who took the Elections Commission to court for denying them their fundamental right to vote in the province due to a questionable technicality in the law.

The PQ was not done with their shameless tactics.  They then turned their attention to the leader of the Liberal Party, Doctor Couillard, with the completely outrageous notion that since he had worked in Saudi Arabia he must therefore condone the backward treatment of women in that country.  Marois, whose job it was to sell the “Charter of Values”, was naturally desperate to make the Charter a ballot box question as polls consistently demonstrate its popularity among francophones in Quebec.  Making this incredible statement, Marois must have thought it was fair game.  But this was way below the belt, even by the standards of this election.

If this weren’t bad enough, Janette Bertrand indulged in an incoherent rant about her right to take a dip in her building’s pool that was being hypothetically violated by male McGill students (I wonder what religion she had in mind?)  One local journalist charitably described the rant as the “politics of exaggeration.”  Mme Bertrand is a famous actress, journalist and feminist activist having founded the “Jannette” group of pro-charter feminists.  She seemed to be trying hard to rekindle enthusiasm for the Charter in the late stages of the election.

Bills Political Shop

Other incidents that the PQ were forced to correct included an ill-advised attack ad put out by the party showing the number of Liberal candidates who have had voted against the inquiry of the ongoing Charbonneau Commission.  Never mind, that it was a Liberal government which gave us the Commission in the first place, (albeit only after tremendous arm twisting in the form of public opinion polls) it is the height of irresponsibility to feature an independent judge in a partisan political ad, thus implying that she has somehow endorsed the PQ in this election.  PQ spinners must have tacitly realized this because shortly after the ads started circulating, they removed the image of Madame Charbonneau.

If this piece seems to be unfairly targeting the PQ, it’s simply because they dumped buckets of mud compared to their opponents in this election, including the notoriously slippery Liberals.  Couillard and others had a few dark moments of their own during the campaign.  Doctor Phil seemed almost gleeful in his hatred of Pauline from the outset of the election when he engaged in some trash talk of his own saying he wouldn’t stand for any crap in the first debate, even going so far as to threaten to give Marois a taste of her own medicine if she brought up his personal finances including his use of an offshore bank account in Jersey England.

Francois Legault and the CAQ were largely ignored by the media, but Legault appeared to let off some steam publicly a few times venting his frustration with what he described as the “shit” financial record of the PQ government.  He also lashed out at Dr Gaétan Barette on the popular talk show Tous Le Monde En Parle saying that he recalled having lunch with him once before he jumped to the Liberal Party, in which the portly politician mocked Couillard as a leader (also a medical doctor).  He then called Barette dishonest and derided his lack of integrity.

If you’re wondering why Francoise David and Québec Solidaire haven’t been mentioned yet, it’s because she and her team ran a remarkably clean and effective campaign with virtually no personal attacks whatsoever.  The one exception being former spokesman Amir Khadir, who put his foot in it big time when he compared the recruitment by the PQ of Pierre Karl Péladeau to the Iranian revolution’s infamous betrayal of socialists and communists by the Ayathollah Khomeini.  Proving once again why it was a stroke of genius by the Party to put David in charge of their campaign.

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Other articles by David DesBaillets

Harper has a bad day in court
The “Leprechaun” of Canadian finance takes his walk in the snow
Will Harper Turn his Back on Péladeau and Sun News?
Was the Canadian Government involved in a TransCanada cover-up?
Confessions of a lefty Jewish Canadian on Harper’s visit to Israel

Follow David DesBaillets on twitter @DDesBaillets

 

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