In light of recent events surrounding Bill 103, (the Quebec Liberal party's reaction to the rejection by the Supreme court of Bill 104, a law enacted by the separatist Parti Quebecois back in 2002 to ostensibly close a loophole where ineligible students could gain entry into English schools,) a lot of readers have fulminated (well a few, anyway) in the comment section over the sad fact that Anglophone Quebeckers, have virtually no influence in the Liberal party and that perhaps its time to give rebirth to an Anglo rights party again similar to the Equality Party of way back when.
The handful of Liberal MNAs who are English or Ethnic and who represent predominantly Anglo ridings appear to be co-opted to parrot the anti-English line that the Liberals, as well as all the other parties in the National Assembly adhere to. It's particularly galling to see them forced to bite their tongues on language issues like Bill 103 in order to keep their jobs.
Before I discuss the idea of a English rights party, lets review our Anglo and Ethnic talent in the National Assembly.
At first glance, it appears that Quebec is the only place in North America where not only bees, but WASPS are also endangered species, at least in Quebec's National Assembly.
By my count there is only one male and one female that can qualify as White, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant, a situation that vastly under represents the 400,0000 Quebec citizens that can be classified as such.
Dividing Quebec's population by the 125 Parliamentary seats available yields approximately 70,000 people per constituency, notwithstanding that urban ridings contain more voters than suburban ones (this is how the PQ gets disproportionately more seats than votes.)
These numbers would indicate that in a perfect world Anglos would hold about 12 seats and Ethnics the same.
When it comes to overall representation it's clear that Anglos and
ethnics are underrepresented across the board. With twenty percent of the
population one would hope that Anglos and Ethnics would hold about 25 Parliamentary seats. Here's a rundown of the twelve that they do occupy. As it stands, Anglos hold just two seats and Ethnics ten. It can be argued that there is some crossover, but the basic facts remain.
It appears that when the Liberals designate someone to run
in a safe English riding, the candidate is chosen using a formula whereby two birds can be killed with
one stone. These 'safe' Anglo ridings are vehicles whereby ethnics who can double as Anglos are chosen.
An important element to Anglo/Ethnics Liberal representation in Parliament is the distinct lack of 'weight' that they bring. Only Sam Hadad can be said to exercise any real influence. The two Anglos rookies who were inserted into cabinet were unfortunately, mere tokens (and I hate to use the term) and represent nothing more than Jean Charest proxies, chosen for their docility and willingness to obey their master. Behind the scene, it's Jean Charest runs the Justice and Immigration departments using Yolande James and Kathleen Weil like a Charlie McCarthy marionette. As for Laurence Bergman, the designated Jew of the Assembly, it seems that with all that talent in Hebrew community, the Liberal opted for the nebbish. Perhaps Russel Copeman, one of the few competent Liberal Anglo politicians of late, read the writing on the wall and left politics.
It's painfully clear that when it comes to representing Anglos, no party is really interested and protecting Anglo rights is actually perceived as a drawback by all.
Even the conservative ADQ is publicly against any accommodation that would allow English schools any device that would allow them to pinch non-eligible students.
Tym Machine in his blog reminds us that Mario Dumont favours a mixed health care system, one where a private option augments the public health system.
Yet Dumont expresses outrage at the idea that several hundred families can 'buy' their children an English education.
Apparently it's fine to jump the queue and purchase a hip replacement operation, but buying an English education is an affront to every Quebecker.
So it isn't surprising that none of our political parties are at all interested in protecting or boosting access to English schools. It's just bad politics, so many frustrated Anglos are suggesting a return to the days of the Equality Party, where Anglos forgoe voting the traditional Liberal way and elect English rights activists.
I remember the last time this happened, back in 1989 when the Equality Party manged to get almost 5% of the Provincial vote and elected four members to the National Assembly. At that time Anglos were furious over the provisions of Bill 101. I guess nothing has changed....
But the sad reality was that the party was marginally competent, sadly dysfunctional and grossly ineffective.
I've known Robert Libman (the leader of the party) professionally and as a friend for many years and have nothing but the highest respect for his abilities, competence and honesty. That being said, the other members of the party could only be described as accidental politicians.
The late Gordon Atkinson was also a great friend of mine and a mentor and teacher. He was honourable and as refined a gentleman as you could find. As soldier by training, he viewed issues in black and white and as you can guess was ill-suited to politics. He never fit in at the National Assembly and quickly lost interest in the whole political thing.
Neil Cameron was a well meaning academic, but was also not prepared for life in the political fast lane. He also turned out to be a disappointing bust, his background made him wholly unsuitable for the rough and tumble world of politics.
As for the last member of the quartet, Richard Holden was the joker in the deck. Clearly unbalanced when elected, he was soon kicked out of the party and spited his former colleagues by crossing the floor and sitting as a member of the Parti Quebecois, something that sent his Westmount constituents into a state of apoplexy. After his defeat in the next election, he was rewarded with a patronage job by his separatist masters but remained seriously unbalanced and committed suicide by jumping out of his Atwater condo.
After the Equality party imploded, it was a signal to the Anglo community that the 'independent' experiment was a bust.
Like the Bloc Quebecois of today, the influence of the Equality party was negligible and in fact made it easier for mainstream Quebeckers to ignore the constituency.
Sometimes there are no good options and sadly Anglos face the sad truth that they will never be adequately represented, no matter which route they pick.
For those wishing for an independent Anglo representation, it will never happen again and perhaps the only role of our Anglo and Ethnic members of the Liberal caucus is to remain, their presence a reminder that we persevere.