Much has been made of the rise of the Mario Dumont's ADQ and his defence of Quebec's "traditional culture in the face of calls to reasonably accomodate ethnic minorities - especially Muslims and orthodox Jews."* Apparently voters outside of Montreal feel they have been asked to stretch too far in welcoming newcomers and 'others' into the province.
But although I agree that last night's election results signal a political realignment and a shift in values across the province, I believe the results point to a more basic shift in Canadians' expectations of politicians.
Our leaders lack vision.
In the West, in Quebec, and in Ottawa, the politicians of the day have each been consumed with federal-provincial relations. Under the guise of asking how best to divide tax revenue amongst the regions, which level of government should develop strategic policy, and which should implement it; how best to tackle rising health care budgets, and what type of public schools to fund - politicians have really been asking simply "which of us can have the last say, and which should have the most control over taxes raised?
Citizens should get more from their politicians than debates about division of power and division of revenue. Voters should feel that their elected chiefs are out ahead of them, setting the pace towards bold and ambitious aims. Politicians should inspire young people to dream big, entrepreneurs to take risks, civil society to bridge the gaps where government and business leave off.
During an election campaign, Canadians should get a sense of what Canada's role is in the world, and what their role is in the country. They should feel both that their governments' rhetoric is lofty and that their discourse is supported by a will to experiment with pilot programs, to test new ideas, new models of partnership, and to set examples that more nimble groups can then run with down the line.
In the absence of a politics based on inspiration and leadership, Canadians would prefer that government simply get out of the way. Get smaller, spend less, and give back our money in tax breaks. The rise of Harper and of Mario Dumont is a signal that Canada lacks this vision.
*CTV News and Canadian Press