PQ hypocrisy has a new face: Jean-François Lisée, elected as the PQ Member for Rosemont in 2012. When he was a journalist with L’actualite, I don’t remember ever feeling that he was unmeasured or unreasonable in the presentation of his ideas. When he debated Mordecai Richler on English-language television, he seemed not only more on top of the issues but the more reserved and rational of the two. I was therefore very curious to see how he would defend the Charte des valeurs in his press conference on RDI this week. His presentation and responses were brisk, vague and evasive: sure signs of a politician who knows he is skating on very thin ice, or just a man forced to defend a policy that he doesn’t believe in.
When I quoted Premier Lucien Bouchard’s address to the Anglophone community of Quebec at Centaur Theatre, March 12, 1996, in my last posting, what I didn’t mention was that Jean-François Lisée was the Premier’s speech-writer at the time, as well as the organizer of the event. We can safely assume he had a substantial hand in preparing the speech, if it wasn’t entirely his work. So here, once again, is what Jean-François Lisée supposedly believed in 1996:
If we're looking for shared values between Quebecers, a number of them come immediately to mind: parliamentary democracy, equality, freedom of expression, pluralism, a taste for each other's culture, a somewhat greater sense of fun than most of our neighbors.
This week, Jean-François Lisée, defender of the “Charte des valeurs,” no longer believes in “freedom of expression” or “pluralism” or “a taste for each other’s culture.” A “sense of fun”? That’s not even on the map anymore!
If you want some sense of the depth of his newfound hypocrisy read the first entry of his journal on his official web site concerning the program of Africa-Quebec cooperation that he seems so proud of and moved by. Of course, under the Charte des valeurs which Minister Lisée now espouses, these “professionilized,” Senegalese women in their brightly coloured costumes, which he was so moved by, would not be allowed to hold a job in Quebec’s public and parapublic services unless they were ready to abandon their head scarves. How’s that for a message of welcome! And a message of respect for the people of Senegal invested in cooperation with Quebec!
What does Jean-François Lisée really believe in? Not much it would seem. If his support for the charter of values is an attempt to follow through with the strategy outlined in his book Emergency Exit: How to Avert Quebec's Decline and provoke a new conflict with the federal government and a referendum on Quebec’s powers within Canada, then he should say so clearly. Like the rest of the PQ, his sense of “values” this week seems pretty vacuous and negative. Like the rest of the PQ, he seems ready to surrender his values of pluralism and openness in favour of the political exigencies of the moment. Like the rest of the PQ, he seems ready to surrender his earlier beliefs for a charter of non-values, a charter of anti-values, a charter in opposition to minorities’ expressing their beliefs and values, in a vain attempt to claim some sort of petty, short-term, ethnocentric political victory. History, the one which won’t be controlled and written by the PQ, will judge him poorly.