What is GUARANTEED to happen after April 7*

*not an actual guarantee

«Je vais vous dire quelque chose que ma mère me disait: "Qui se ressemble, s'assemble" » - Pauline Marois

I'm being asked, often, what I think will happen on and after April 7. I'm really not into predictions (though I've said Québec Solidaire will win a third seat in Ste. Marie-St. Jacques* - a combination of the right social policies and an iffy incumbent), so here's the best answer I can give (and it's coming from a nonpartisan place, of course).

The PQ has essentially crazied itself out of a majority government, and might have ruined what was once a tolerant, legitimate sovereignty movement with petty, ethnocentric gluttony. I can't even begin to list the things that have offended me throughout this campaign - Janette Bertrand was the cherry on the can of Ensure. I don't believe Quebecers (even those in the 'regions,' where I grew up) are as paranoid of ethnic minorities as some of their leaders in government and media, and I believe this will be reflected at the polls on Monday.

Anything's possible, of course - even a CAQ government if they land some kind of Hail Mary - but one of these three scenarios (from most to least likely) will almost certainly become reality on Monday. For the purposes of CJAD 800's largely Anglo and ethnic audience: Take a deep breath. As of right now, sovereignty isn't a thing, the Charter of Values is on life support and heavier language restrictions are also less likely. But again, it's been a wild campaign, so anything can happen.

1. Liberal minority government

It's only been a year and a half since the last Liberal government - I don't expect Quebecers to have full confidence in them just yet. The important thing to watch for is who will hold the balance of power.

It should be the CAQ, in which case we can expect a little identity rhetoric, but not enough to have us lose our minds and pack our bags, along with some coherent ideas on how to better govern (did you hear, Francois Legault founded AIR TRANSAT!). Progressives will feel very uncomfortable with a renewed Plan Nord and energy exploration. Tuition freeze? Not so much. Corruption: It's getting better, I think. Slowly.

It's highly unlikely that QS would hold the balance of power, so we're not ripping up the autoroutes just yet. And no, the CAQ is not a sovereignist party; they will not ambush us and team up with the PQ to call a referendum - stop that silly talk. Some of the only loud-and-proud Francophone federalists in the National Assembly are CAQistes; the party is neither federalist nor sovereignist.

If this is indeed the outcome on Monday, a new Premier could impress by naming a member of the opposition to cabinet; just putting that out there.

2. Liberal majority government

A best-case scenario for many Anglos, but considering Liberals hired more OQLF inspectors than the PQ has lately, I wonder if they can make the western half of Montreal feel more appreciated if they have absolute power. They certainly have some candidates that inspire confidence, like Carlos Leitao, once voted the second-best economist on the planet! And Philippe Couillard, frankly, seems like an intelligent, thoughtful non-politician, whether you agree or disagree with his politics. 

If they do win a majority, which is entirely possible, it will be despite themselves (did you know that anecdote about Leitao? I didn't until last week! As a PR consultant, I'm baffled it isn't a Liberal talking point.) Liberals have been reacting and on the defensive all campaign - it's part strategy, part Couillard's subdued character and part utter disorganization.

Pundits who are already predicting a Liberal majority are either overly optimistic or spinning. The party itself is not that optimistic on their chances, and they have access to more polling data than journalists do.

In many areas, the Couillard Liberals are to the left of Marois' PQ - so progressives might actually be better off with Door #2, since the CAQ will drag them to the right in a minority government. I wouldn't assume the Liberals will embrace corruption, so don't panic: The Charbonneau Commission will continue, as will intense media scrutiny, particularly from, um, some nationalist outlets more than others (and I'm not just talking about candidate-owned media).

(I mention progressives specifically because they are the biggest losers in this election campaign, no matter how you slice it - especially when wind power is considered the greenest form of sustainable development.)

3. PQ minority government

"Oh no! The PQ is back in power! Honey, call U-Haul!"

Take it easy. If Liberals lose, they might still win. If the PQ called this election only to obtain the same result, wasting $88-million, they will be under intense pressure to reform (ie become less crazy). That would probably mean the resignation, before another election, of Pauline Marois and a more moderate and cooperative leader taking her place, with no moral authority to push the Charter of Values (not that a lack of moral authority stopped them the first time around).

If the PQ fails fairly quickly to govern, expect Liberals and the CAQ to go to the Lieutenant-Governor and ask to form a coalition government. I had suggested one instead of this election, but no one listens to me and talks between the two parties didn't leave the hypothetical realm. It's too bad, because we would have saved millions, and saved an immeasurable amount of pain among Quebec's ethnics, shafted by the PQ's wedge. But everyone wants to be Premier and there's only one chair. Sigh.

A Liberal-CAQ coalition government would, in fact, better represent Quebecers than any minority government could. There's no denying this.

Again, don't panic

The clock is running out on sovereignty. Jean-Francois Lisée, by far the most insightful MNA in cabinet, said he has never felt more pessimistic about the PQ's project than he does right now (he was a strategist in '95, he knows what he's talking about). He should be instrumental in a renewed PQ that can, one day, present the option in a more rational and tolerant context. That probably won't happen any time soon because they've screwed up so badly, and they have only themselves to blame.

That, or what we're witnessing is the PQ's crutch of fear and insecurity leading to the party's Bloc-like implosion. The children of baby boomers have other, more pressing matters on their minds than the creation of an almost-viable state in their white, Franco-lapsed-Catholic parents' image.

I just can't wait until this is all over. What an awful, embarrassing spectacle this campaign has been. Hopefully it is cathartic and transformational for Quebec, which can define its own identity - thank you very much, Madame Marois, for your service. 

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