Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Real Test for Mr. Charest

According to recent polls, 61% of Quebeckers are satisfied with Jean Charest (photo), Quebec's Premier. Moreover, 34% of people would vote for him. Many Quebeckers may be satisfied now, but this doesn't mean a lot.

Of course, since he's been going through his second mandate, Charest hasn't resorted to cabinet shuffles. Whether we like him or not, let's admit that most members of his cabinet are more competent. As columnist Alain Dubuc also wrote it, the Liberal Party of Quebec (LPQ) seems closer to people's interests.

Indeed, some ministers like Julie Boulet (Transportation) or Michelle Courchesne (Education) were great. While Boulet toughened the Quebec's Code of Security on the Road (Code de la sécurité routière), Courchesne, on the other hand, did a good job by bringing back the obligation to send report cards (marked with numbers) or to penalize a student for doing a mistake while writing in French.

Another explanation for this surge of popularity is the relative absence of criticism from the opposition parties. Anyway, we don't see how could the Parti Québécois (PQ) or the Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ) criticize some bills that they would have liked to present.

Think about it: as a party that tries to stand up for the "survival" of the French language in Quebec, the PQ would have certainly liked to have the idea to bring back the old fashioned way of teaching French, that is taking marks out for any spelling or grammar mistakes. In a global nutshell, it looks like the opposition parties don't have a bone to throw at their supporters or Quebeckers in general!

Despite the good performance of Charest's government, Quebec's Premier will probably blunder sooner or later. Our Premier certainly excelled in many issues. Nonetheless, he never really was brilliant in an issue that divides Quebec the same way racial co-existence divides the USA: religious and ethnic co-existence.

After the publication of the Bouchard-Taylor commission, this will be the moment when Jean Charest will face the toughest issue of all. Don't forget that unlike last year, Charest can't allow himself to dump for a second time the debate on religious and ethnic issues.

Since Quebeckers are preoccupied by the questions of ethnic and religious co-existence, they'll get to see if Jean Charest can take a split-second decision or act like a chicken in public (that's what he did when he created the Bouchard-Taylor Commission). All in all, Charest might be good in many portfolios, but Quebeckers will have their final word on their Premier after they see him trying to handle one in which he'll never be good, anyway.

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