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The timing of the provincial election reaches the depths of cynicism. The Charest Liberals are banking on their firm stance against the student strike to retain their fleeting grip on power.
Voters will witness police clubbing students and some teachers on picket lines early this August, and elections will soon follow.
Never mind that the Liberals are helping to ship deadly asbestos to developing countries. Never mind the widespread corruption and collusion at the highest levels of government. Never mind that Quebec is pedaling the Plan Nord and a shale gas extraction method known as “fracking,” with all their devastating environmental consequences. Forget all that. The students need disciplining.
The great irony is that students are trying to raise precisely these concerns. The largest Earth Day rally in Canadian history took place this April 22 on the streets of Montreal. A delegate from CLASSE went to the Rio+20 Peoples Summit in Brazil, where international leaders at the official summit again failed to make meaningful progress to curb global warming. Yet none of this will make the electoral radar.
Rather than revitalizing democracy, the elections are a sign that the well of electoral politics is drying up. The possibility for widespread direct democracy beomes very real in these conditions.