There remains an absolute fury within the PQ caucus over the failed campaign that was supposed to take them to the promised land of majority government with a fall-back Plan B of remaining a minority government, in other words...no harm no foul.
For those in the PQ who lost their seat, the defeat was maddening enough but for those who were re-elected but will be riding the pine of the opposition benches, instead of the comfortable back seat of their government issued ministerial limousine, the political equivalent of twiddling thumbs it is a fall in position particularly difficult to accept, like a disgraced police captain busted down and forced to walk a beat, for a four long year ordeal, an unsavoury dish of humble pie, made only worse by the unhappy aspect of having your salary cut in half.
And so it is human nature to seek blame in the face of unfortuitousness events, where pointing the finger at others, more convenient and satisfying than an honest look in the mirror.
Actually what President Kennedy probably said according to those who know, was;
"Victory has a thousand fathers, defeat is a bastard."
It is a pointed statement that underlines the idea that when a collective effort goes south, some individual or small group of individuals are going to take the blame for the entire group.
For Kennedy, it was the infamous secret attack on the Bay of Pigs in Cuba orchestrated by the CIA, a complete and utter cockup that exposed America as blatantly attacking and interfering with an independent country, breaking just about every international statute in relation to non-interference, to boot, While the entire US government was involved, the blame fell to Kennedy, while the rest of those involved ducked and covered like cold war children hiding under their desks.
Such is the history of the PQ, a saga of repeated bloodletting after each and every manner of defeat, where leaders are unceremoniously shown the door with either a golden handshake or boot in the rear end. There is hardly a leader of the PQ that exited in a dignified and orderly manner, most of them furious at the back-stabbing and forever marked by the naked betrayal of those they trusted.
It's hard to look at the latest PQ election campaign and point a finger at exactly who or what caused the election meltdown, because there were so many negative factors impacting the final result that to pick one would be a disservice to the others.
Perhaps running the most incompetent and worst conceived campaign in modern Quebec political history, it is interesting to deconstruct each mistake in and of itself.
'Hubris' means extreme pride or self-confidence. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence, ...
Calling an election over a few favourable polls was an amateur mistake that only the supremely overconfident and the out-of-touch would make. It seems that the PQ decision-makers made an emotional decision in haste ignoring any semblance of good judgment.
I've told you before that a few positive polls mean nothing in Quebec where opinions can shift overnight. One only has to go back to the last federal election where the NDP, in a last minute surge, confounded all the experts and nearly swept Quebec.
Quebec voters are particularly susceptible to a phenomenon called 'group think' where an idea or concept embraces a group because everyone is exposed to the exact same media stimuli. While Canadians are exposed to a multitude of channels from across North America, Quebecers are limited to the few locally produced French television shows, proving Marshall McLuhan's, point, that 'the medium is indeed the massage.'
That is why an insipidly boring talk show like Tout le monde en Parle can have up to one third of Quebecers watching on any particular Sunday night, there's not much else to choose from.
Those type of ratings are unheard of elsewhere and contribute to the creation of a group mentality where like moose running in a huge herd, a sharp turn either left or right by the leaders, has the entire group turning on a dime, running at breakneck speed towards God knows what.
It's something that politicians and organizers in Quebec should understand but don't.
Thinking that the polls were relevant was the PQ's very first big mistake, and risking everything on the thinnest of margins made no sense since there was no pressing reason to call the election anyway, other than the pursuit of a majority government. Neither the CAQ or the Liberals were going to topple the government, all that was required was a little compromise in the coming budget and Charter of Values legislation.
Now Pauline made noises about needing a majority to pass her sacred agenda, but the reality is that political parties don't exist to pass legislation, they exist to exist, like humans who are bred to survive, to flourish and to reproduce...period.
But the PQ though they had the elements of a successful campaign, with the Charter of Values the ace in the hole (How did that work out?) That was the second crucial miscalculation. And like a gambler who believes he is betting on an absolutely sure thing, when things went sour, it is a bewildering and shocking comeuppance.
What the PQ didn't figure on was that the Charter debate had run its course. The passion on the supporting side had waned over time, as the issue dragged on interminably. In a world of short attention spans, the never-ending discussion and acrimonious debate were well past its 'use-by' date and for lovers of the Charter, the passion was clearly out of the relationship, the flirtation a thing of the past.
And so the PQ went to battle under the very worst of assumptions of the political ground on which they trod, shamefully delusional of their own invincibility and armed with a game plan that would have made General Custard proud, Pauline launched an attack on her enemies from which she would never survive.
Over-estimating Pauline's AppealOne of the most puzzling miscalculations of the campaign was to put Pauline front and center, the poster girl of the campaign as if she was a highly beloved and venerated leader à la René Levesque.
Incredibly naive organizers conceived of a campaign based on Pauline's attraction to voters, an attraction that hardly existed.
Look at the PQ's campaign poster at the top of the page, it features a picture of Pauline Marois alone
with the word 'determined' as the campaign catchphrase. Now the French word 'determined' is spelled with a double EE at the end, indicating that it is a female who is determined, a not so subtle hint to voters that Pauline is carrying the can for the PQ.
In what planet did organizers belive that Pauline had that type of gravitas?
In fact she remains one of the most unpopular Premiers ever to take the office, reviled by anglophones and ethnics and barely tolerated by supporters.
Her husband's slimy reputation had bubbled to the surface in recent weeks, with allegations of influence peddling, coupled with rumours of using his position close to the PQ to enrich himself and Madame Marois.
While nothing has been proven definitively, for voters, the stink coming off the couple was hard to avoid and to a skeptical public, numbed by revelations at the Crime Commission, its was a case of assuming the worst, having been burned so badly before by the parade of corrupt public officials sashaying across our television screens.
The focus on Pauline as the heart and sole of the PQ campaign did not sit well with the upper echelons of the party, especially cabinet ministers who felt that a team effort should have been emphasized.
While they were forced to grin and bear it during the campaign, their collective rage bubbled over in light of the electoral debacle, with many blaming Pauline and her inner circle directly for the loss of their seat and the loss of the government.
When Pauline resigned on the night of the election, it wasn't a moment too soon, she would have been massacred had she faced the diminished caucus as leader.
The definition of a political train wreck is a poorly conceived and executed campaign, coupled with bad luck and unforseen setbacks, some beyond the control of the party itself, some wounds self-inflicted, but all devastating just the same.
The entry of Pierre-Karl Péledeau should have given the PQ the spark to put them over the top, even Liberal strategists and media pundits conceded that his entry into the race dimmed the prospects of the Liberals considerably.
But happenstance and unforeseen consequences reared its head and PKP's entry into the race exposed the PQ's Achilles Heel, a fatal flaw so serious that when exposed, represented the kiss of death.
Nowhere in the most innermost thoughts of PQ organizers and leaders was there an inkling as to the depths to which desire for the independence debate had plummeted
When that box of worms was opened, and the independence critters slithered out, there was no putting back the contents in the box.
Ever since the last referendum, the PQ has steadfastly refused to realistically discuss sovereignty with the public, always referring to it as some haughty goal, a Shangrila of sorts, without ever describing the actual landscape.
In one fell swoop, Marois took care of that, making some outrageous claims about a post independent Quebec that forced the public to face that unforeseen and never discussed reality. Borders, dollars, passports etc.etc., it was one discussion too far.
That one conversation about a future independent Quebec and what it would look like had the effect of a marriage proposal to a confirmed bachelor. RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!!
The PQ caucus can blame Marois and they can blame organizers for the election meltdown but the truth is that they must blame themselves for supporting an outdated and rejected policy born in the sixties, which died in 1995, that referendum night when the YES side came oh, so close.
This is the reality that the PQ must face and knifing Marois, Drainville, Lisée or even PKP won't solve the fundamental problem.
Sovereignty and Quebec independence has run it's course.
A month after the election, with the revelations of dishonesty over the legal advices in relation to the Charter Of Values, the PQ can pretend that they did no wrong and Drainville can huff and puff all he wants about how he never fooled anyone. In the end the public makes its choice and the verdict clearly is that he and the PQ are deemed to be liars and that the campaign was predicated on a lie.
Support for the PQ has plummeted to a historically low 19% and clearly a house cleaning is in order.
But getting rid of Marois and the party executive is clearly not enough, Drainville, Lisée and even PKP are toxic and if the party is to renew itself, it means throwing out most of the big shots and starting over with untainted characters.
But even as the PQ cleans house, which they will, what will remain is still a collection of failed ideologues, perhaps younger and untainted, but still clinging to an outdated concept and like today's modern Communist parties which still linger in many Eastern bloc countries, a sad reminder of the failed past, as relevant today as pagers, film cameras and mullets.
Coming to grips with that reality is what the next four years will be about for the PQ.
Does the party give up the dream and evolve into to a socially progressive party that works to protect and promote French and Quebec within Canada, or does it go down the road of ignominy, like aging hippies talking about the good old days of peace love and independence, until they fade to black?