Say what you will about Jean Charest. All Canadians who value national unity owe him a debt of gratitude for nine years of relative quiet on the separation front. What could unfold in la belle province post-Charest, poses a threat to Canada as we know it. With public opinion polls showing that Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois poised to form government in Tuesday's Election, the threat is very real.
There is little doubt Quebec would benefit from a change in government, but what is concerning about elections in Quebec is that unlike any other province in Confederation, the fate of our country as we know it is always at risk.
There has been a concerted effort to convince Quebeckers that their place is within Canada and it is disheartening to see PQ leader Pauline Marois speak openly of her plans to create conditions for winning a referendum that it is clear a majority of Quebeckers don't want.
What the PQ fails to understand is that the continual sparring with the federal government and defiant support of secession, regardless of a demonstrated lack of public support for separation, creates an unstable environment for investors, who are in a position to strengthen the quality of life for all residents of Quebec.
Aspects of the PQ platform include regressive legislation on the display of religious symbols by non-Christian civil servants, barring non-french speaking citizens from seeking, and by extension, holding elected office in addition to a series of policies designed to artificially maintain a Francophone majority in Montreal.
Having been around politics for some time, it amazes me that someone can seek public office, and potentially win, on a platform centered on kicking the sleeping dog and in doing so, creating a crisis the majority would prefer to avoid.
Quebec has negotiated a unique place for itself within Canada and have gained broad recognition of the notion of Quebeckers constituting a distinct society and 'nation' within a united Canada. While it would be hard to imagine these and other recognitions as satisfying the deep seeded desire for some in Quebec to be a sovereign state, it is beneath anyone seeking to lead any government to purposely create strife as a means to a political end.
Tuesday night, Quebeckers will chose their candidates for the National Assembly and in doing so, will choose our fate as a united country. Here is to hoping cooler heads prevail and a government dedicated to maintaining the calm we've enjoyed over the last number of years, is elected.