The Unannounced in the Forum of Ideas for Quebec
The Forum of Ideas for Quebec, in I which I had the honor to participate, is another success achieved by the Quebec Liberal Party. It is rare to see a political leader attending three consecutive days in a thinking forum listening to guest speakers, panelists and participants and taking down notes. This had happened shortly before the Quebec national assembly resumed. A new season comes with the Quebec liberals full of ideas that they gathered from policy makers, activists and administrators. Unlike the elected Quebec separatists who went to Scotland looking for new ways to break up the country. The most important idea that both the liberal forum in St Lambert and separatists forum in Glasgow convey is that the separatists are disconnected with their electors at home. They are connected with politicians in Scotland that are themselves disconnected with their electors as proven by the results of the Scot referendum. The media has fairly covered the Ideas for Quebec forum as an event. The public policy and administration content speaks for itself given the availability of the recordings in the party's websites and social media. What I am interested to talk about here is the political messages that the event has delivered by which the liberals have scored enough to secure the confidence of the public.
Guest speaker Alain Rousset (president of the Aquitaine region and a deputy in the National Assembly of France, representing the 7th constituency of the Gironde) is known of his political and academic works in the issue of decentralization and territorial organization. France as he stated after praising several times the decentralized political system in Canada is "the last centralized democracy in the world". The centralization in France is an obstacle facing innovation, creativity, economic growth and development. It is a known fact that the bureaucracy in France is huge and ineffective. It takes more time and effort for a citizen in France to get basic services and for SMBs to get started compared to the time and effort it takes them in Canada. This leads us to question the French model that the Quebec separatists always mention. In fact, there is no record of an ideas forum organized by the Parti Quebecois where the French model was clearly outlined to the public. Media records show that the French model that the PQ preaches is about two simple ideas. The first is the supremacy of the French language, and the second is the use of secularism in favor of the French culture as in the provoked debate of religious symbols that led to the defeat of the PQ in last elections. It is fair to say that the Liberal forum of ideas for Quebec will have a direct impact in changing the concept of buying the French model to the concept of selling the Quebec model.
The Ideas for Quebec forum has, without any doubt, helped the Quebec liberals deliver a strong, credible and important message to the public. It is about the party itself being open to dialogue within and without. The public interest and willingness to move forward in dealing with the real issues facing the future of Quebecers supersedes the partisan and electoral interest. Thus, everyone's effort regardless of the political affiliation is needed. In the forum's opening statement Premier Philippe Couillard revealed the fact that around half of the participants are not affiliated with the Quebec Liberal Party. The Premier and members of his team have shown readiness to hear from the other and take into consideration the others' concerns. It is remarkable to see a political party organizing an event allowing the political opponent to have a say in a mediatized environment.
Nicole Menard, the deputy of La Porte presiding the government's caucus at the national assembly, opened and closed the forum without forgetting the English speaking community in Quebec. Although symbolic, using a few sentences in English carry a message that the liberals are the only important provincial party truly committed to the cultural rights of this community.
The Ideas for Quebec forum ended with a closing statement by the Quebec premier that reaffirmed the party’s openness and willingness to join the efforts to serve in the issues that matter. At the time human rights activists were wondering the absence of human rights from the talks about the cooperation between the members of La Francophonie, Philippe Couillard wasted no time to refer to the centrality of human rights in achieving the goal of innovation.
In this forum, The Quebec liberals did not only succeed in brainstorming the public policy and administration, they have certainly succeeded in delivering strong and credible political messages that their opponents will find extremely hard to overcome.