Bouchard is a historian, sociologist and author who teaches at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi
His open letter has been translated and reproduced with his permission.
A columnist spoke of cynicism and stupidity to describe the Parti Québécois' recent campaign. These harsh words are not far from the reality. Of all the examples we could mention here, the bill on the charter and the way it was promoted attracts attention.
We know the rather sinister part that was played by the Marois-Drainville duo. It has been widely commented on and strongly condemned, with good reason . We must go further. There is a major cleanup to be done within the party. All those who guided it along the path of intolerance, hypocrisy and amateurism must go. As for those who completely poured out the most shameless demagogy, either by multiplying their lies to the public, or by encouraging the practice by their complacent silence, one wonders if they still suited to occupy political office or even a public position.
Beyond the harm that was done to the Parti Quebecois , these Duplessis-esque maneuvers have disappointed many honest people. In their eyes, they discredited the entire political class.
Repentance comes too late
Among those responsible for this mess , I would like to single-out those who now seek to excuse themselves by arguing that, deep down , they had always disapproved of the bill . They believe they are exonerating themselves; in fact, they are worsening their case. By adding up the number of reported confessions over the past few days with the various ministers whose convictions were already known, we can identify a large block of dissidents who never bothered to stand up.
It leads to the conclusion that if they had shown enough courage to form a coalition, these ministers would have had the clout to force the government to back down and negotiate an honorable compromise, saving Quebec from a particularly shameful episode.
So, why didn’t they? We are not talking of a disagreement over an asphalt contract or the route of a highway. This ethical issue focuses on a fundamental question: the protection of minority rights . We have seen public figures leave for less than that - think of three PQ MNAs who resigned in June, 2011 because of their disagreement over the Quebec City arena .
In this case, we are not talking about a lack of competence, but a lack of moral integrity. Among these complacent and apologetic dissidents, we find participants who, because of their training, their past and their well-known convictions, had originally inspired confidence.
I will commit the indiscretion of pointing the finger at the Minister of Justice - the official guardian of the law and moral rectitude - who, through his inertia, had endorsed the dishonorable operation involving the false legal notices on the charter bill. An operation led by the highest level of government, where stupidity (let's call things by their name) competed with dishonesty.
Will they invoke his ministerial obligations? Even so, does this moral rule not have limits somewhere? For example, when it comes to endorsing a great dishonesty and even a violation of the law?
PQ leaders have good reason to make it a priority to rebuild their party. But they should make its restoration after this breach of trust an even higher priority.
Two members of the party, more than the others, embody its disgrace. First, it’s Marois ; she had the decency to resign. Then, it’s Bernard Drainville ; we’re waiting for him to do as much. For nearly a year , he propagated inflammatory and misleading statements in order to build up the Quebec majority against minorities and immigrants. He led a primary role on the subject of the false legal opinions. As long as this person remains associated with the PQ , a shadow will continue to be cast over it.