|Pauline Marois- Winner by a knockout!|
But the saying actually has a different root.
"During a Congressional debate in 1831 a New York senator, William L. Marcy, used the phrase "to the victor belong the spoils." This saying accurately described the spoils system of appointing government workers. Each time a new administration came into power thousands of public servants were discharged and members of the victorious political party took over their jobs."
For the fifty odd years before the Parti Quebecois was elected, the Quebec government flipped between the Liberals and the Union Nationale party and with each change, supporters of the winners were rewarded and losers were punished.
The practice of spoilage was so entrenched that there were actually 'Blue' snow removal contractors and 'Red' snow removal contractors and rights were awarded according to which political party held power in Quebec City.
Even today, the effects of this type of dishonesty haven't been banished from government completely and rewards for political support remain a sad part of the Quebec political landscape all the way from our towns and cities up to the highest echelons of government.
Today, politics remains a game of winners and losers, where partisanship, financial benefit and personal aggrandizement override the public's best interest. Those things never seem to change.
Yes, Politics is a rough and dirty game, even rougher and dirtier in Quebec, just ask Gilles Duceppe who was destroyed by Pauline Marois when he attempted to engineer a takeover of the party and steal her job.
It seems that Marois had been keeping in reserve a devastating political skeleton, the fact that Duceppe has used House of Commons funds to improperly fund partisan party politics.
From the speed at which Duceppe exited the political stage after the bombshell was dropped, it became patently clear that she had the goods on him.
Yup, things get rough, especially in the PQ caucus where over the years, leader after leader has been betrayed and driven from office or leadership by a dirty backroom effort by those colleagues and party members who should have been loyal.
A couple of months ago, Pierrre Curzi and three others PQ MNAs decided that by bolting the PQ caucus to sit as independents, they could trigger a leadership crisis that Pauline Marois could not survive. They believed that their action would leave Marois in an untenable position, a political dead woman walking, a scenario that just about every political pundit believed to be true.
Hoping to return to the party in triumph after her demise and a Gilles Duceppe coronation, things didn't exactly work out as he and the other conspirators planned.
As we all know, Marois pulled victory from the jaws of defeat and the stunning turn of events sent the bewildered hard line conspirators to the rail.
It is perhaps one of the greatest turnarounds in Quebec political history and places Marois alongside Jean Charest as a political operator extraordinaire.
And so the Curzi group was forced to confront the reality of a future electoral disaster, as independents with zero prospects of returning to the National Assembly. They were left with the choice between grovelling for reintegration into the PQ or ignominious retirement.
You'd think Pierre Curzi would understand that a return to the PQ caucus after his duplicitous betrayal was a non-starter, but apparently he's a dreamer in more sense than one.
Apparently he thought he'd be welcomed back like the Prodigal Son and so had the audacity to demand that Marois give him his old job as language critic back and a commitment from her that he would be allowed to re-write Bill 101 to his hard line satisfaction à la Camille Laurin.
While toying with Curzi during those few 'reintegration' conversations, Pauline must have been wondering whether Curzi was smoking crack, so out of touch with reality was he to naively believe that all would be forgiven and that his previous vaulted position would be returned to him on a silver platter. To the victor belongs the spoils and Curzi and friends were decidedly the losers.
If Madame Marois was to accept Mr. Curzi back into the fold, it wasn't to forgive and forget, it was to humiliate.
Poor Pierre was to be banished to the obscurity of the back benches where he would fulfill the role of a stuffed Rhinoceros head on a wall, a trophy conquest held up as an example of what happens to those who cross Pauline.
Like a group of mutineers on a pirate ship after a failed mutiny, it is time for the plotters to walk the plank.
When the penny finally dropped on Curzi that he was dead political meat, he abruptly announced his retirement, with Marois surely enjoying the moment.
Let's be fair, she deserved her moment of revenge.
And so the same fate awaits Louise Beaudoin who is also trolling for the right to return to the PQ caucus after bolting with Curzi, Lisette Lapointe and Jean Aussant.
Lisette Lapointe, a sworn enemy of Pauline was smart enough to read the handwriting on the wall and took the only option open to her- retirement.
Jean-Martin Aussant, is playing out the string as leader of a no-chance party with less prospects of electing a member than the Montreal Canadiens have of making the playoffs. It won't be long before he'll be teaching 'Separatism 101' in Cegep in Drummondville.
Watching the events of the attempted insurrection over at the PQ reminds me of those all too often coup d'etats attempts in various South American or African banana republics.
The rebels mutiny and try to storm the palace to supplant the leader du joir. Sometimes they win and sometimes they don't, it's always hard to predict who will prevail, these things seem to turn on the smallest of variables.
The very clever rulers keep themselves out ahead of the conspirators and make contingency plans even before the plots are hatched.
It is rumoured that Fidel Castro kept ahead of coup plotters by surreptitiously hatching his very own phony plots to overthrow himself which allowed him to scoop and neutralize anyone stupid enough to join, thus eliminating potential problems before they happened. Clever!
Those political leaders who don't watch their backs are prone to be stabbed between the shoulder blades, the best example perhaps, is Paul Martin's two year campaign to destroy the then sitting Prime Minister, Jean Chretien.
Surprisingly, Chretien, usually a savvy and competent operator, didn't show much spunk in fending off the attacks and ultimately was taken down in a palace coup that led to his resignation and subsequent coronation of Martin as leader.
The list of similar victims is long, especially in the ranks of the PQ leadership, including Rene Levesque, Lucien Bouchard and Andre Boisclair, to name just a few.
Like Castro, it seems that Pauline, has mastered the art of self-preservation, something none of her predecessors managed to do.
We need to give her due... Pauline played a political game of hardball that few knew she had within her and out manoeuvred any and all rivals, destroying them in the mix.
What is most interesting in all this is that Madame Marois has decimated the radicals in the party and will be the first PQ leader to rule without the radicals nipping at her heals, at least for the forseable future.
Swept aside are the ultra radical elements which have always demanded a referendum come Hell or high water, a sure-fire loser and electoral albatross.
This leaves Marois free to pursue her policy of sovereigntist governance, a policy that dictates a nationalist agenda with a referendum an option only in the case of winning conditions.
So now Pauline is free to make a serious run at power.
Just last week the PQ unveiled the new election platform, one which promises whatever the people want, regardless of cost, regardless of consequences.....a surefire winner in Quebec.
And so the PQ has come out in favour of students in their battle to reverse fee increases and has promised to eliminate the health premium to be charged all Quebecers next year. Also they are promising to put a moratorium on just about any wealth producing energy or mining project, all very popular among the entitled set.
The vote for sixteen year-olds, and consultative referendum process, proposed during the PQ's darkest days, is still on the table but will probably be dumped after an election victory.
Today the PQ is concentrating on old fashioned pandering and to that end has stolen a page from the old ADQ, in appealing to xenophobic elements by attacking Halal meat as some sort of Muslim conspiracy to take over the province.
With the greatest impediment to a PQ resurgence out of the way, the PQ can realistically compete to become the next government.
And so we have a whole new electoral ballgame.