Watching Pauline lead a sad-sack, not-ready-for-prime time gaggle of under-performing ragamuffins, lurching from one disaster to another, has led Quebecers to wonder when their province will finally be afforded the competent leadership so desperately in need.
But Quebecers have been sadly dismayed to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The NDP in Ottawa has done nothing to reverse the sad state of affairs engendered by the Bloc Quebecois during their tenure as Quebec's representation in Parliament, wherein the province's interests have been largely forsaken. The NDP has done nothing to advance Quebec's situation, remaining the petulant whiner, forever doomed to observer status, offering nothing more than empty threats and promises hurled from the peanut gallery, as Shakespeare so eloquently described as;
"Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"
In Quebec, Pauline and her new PQ government have fared even worse. The province has endured eight months of disastrous improvisation, the result of ill-conceived policies and initiatives created by a cabinet composed talentless political neophytes, union hacks, also-rans and never-weres, all living in a fantastical world of make believe.
And so we witness the too often repeated cycle of the PQ government proposing one nonsensical initiative after another, most of them blowing-up rather messily, leaving to the government to beat an inevitable humiliating retreat in the face of overwhelming opposition.
One step forward, two steps back. Spin your partner and a dosey-doe.
Instead of trying to fix what is wrong with present day Quebec by repairing the basics, the PQ decided to initiate a host new programs and initiatives built upon an unstable and failing foundation, akin to adding new bucket seats and a nifty tail fin on a clunker desperately in need of an engine re-build.
From tax reform to welfare reform to educational reform, the PQ has butted up against the hard truth that taking away long-entrenched entitlements from any Quebecer is easier said than done.
To make matters worse, the Harper government has cut the legs from under Employment Insurance, a program on which Quebec so desperately depends to keep the habitually unemployed inhabiting the boonies 'in poutine.' The PQ government has shown itself utterly without influence, totally powerless to reverse or even mitigate the decision by Ottawa and finds itself in the unenviable position of holding the dirty end of the political payback stick.
Those facing a chop in benefits are not amused and are holding the Marois government to task, since ironically, there are no Conservatives around to blame.
And so in the face of so much failure, the PQ has fallen back on the old standard, the question of language, where cracking down on the evil Anglos and Ethnics at least helps shore up support in the base.
If the PQ cannot win on jobs or the economy, if it cannot win on education or government reform and if it cannot win on the sovereignty issue, at least it can appear decisive and effective in dealing with the petulant English by imposing more stringent language restrictions in the form of Bill 14, a device meant to deflect attention from what has become the most incompetent government in the history of Quebec.
Clearly the PQ must go, but how?
Voters remain divided and as of yet are unable to choose between the CAQ or the Liberals as a viable alternative.
A new election, would most likely result in a similar result as what we have now, something that the opposition parties are not willing to chance, leaving them with little choice but to grin and bear the hapless status quo.
But there is a third choice, a reasonable and viable alternative.....
Perhaps a coalition government, an idea which actually makes a great deal of sense, if one stops to consider it.
Why doesn't Phillippe Couillard have one of those secret tête-à-têtes with Francois Legault and come to a power-sharing arrangement wherein the PQ government can be defeated, replaced by a CAQ/Liberal coalition, all this without the need for an election.
All that is required is for the CAQ and the Liberals to defeat a government sponsored bill on an issue of confidence, while informing the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec that an alternative coalition government is ready, willing and able to meet the National Assembly in a vote of confidence.
It hasn't happened often, but is absolutely part of our Parliamentary tradition.
As for the voters, I can't think of a better solution, considering that we'd finally have a government that the MAJORITY of electors voted for.
The term of the deal could be predetermined, perhaps two years, a suitable period in which we can judge the performance of all the players involved and help us decide whether the new Liberals are trustworthy, whether the CAQ has what it takes, or whether the PQ is the best of a bad lot.
It is not a hair-brained scheme.
Mr Couillard by virtue of being the larger coalition partner would become Premier with Mr. Legault acting as finance Minister and deputy-Premier.
The cabinet would be composed of a proportional cast of ministers drawn from each party. Between both parties there is a wealth of talent and the addition of Eric Caire, Jacques Duchesneau Gérard Deltell and Sylvie Roy would do wonders for a Liberal-led cabinet.
The most important thing is that the new government would work on the real and basic problems of Quebec, things that they could all agree on.
- Re-engagement with Ottawa on a non-confrontational basis in order to better secure consideration.
- Fair and reasonable development of natural resources.
- Educational reform including the rationalization of school boards and issue of university funding.
- Welfare reform.
- Regional development without welfare or Employment insurance as the answer.
- Re-establishment of linguistic harmony by abandoning punitive language policies.
- Smart assimilation of new immigrants.
- Re-organization of public institutions.
- A freeze of new spending programs and entitlements.
- Pension and civil service reform
On the most pressing issues there is no reason to believe that both parties cannot find common ground as long as good intentions remain.
Most importantly, a coalition government would never have the power to put forward vanity or politically motivated legislation that panders to one special interest or another.
A coalition government could get down to the basics and work to solve the problems we have now, not ones we invent.
It is perhaps the most realistic solution to Quebec's lingering problem of governance and it's certainly worth looking at, nothing else seems to work.