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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
Huge orange flying boat rises off a lake / Thousand-year-old petroglyphs doing a double take / Pointing a finger at eternity / I'm sitting in the middle of this ecstasy
— Bruce Cockburn, Wondering Where the Lions Are
March 26, 2007
Death of the Gladiators

They are classic images, these ones, painted with the cold weather and blowing snows of the bitter Quebec winter. Thes images of men wrapped in wool overcoats steeled against whatever nature may bring their way.

These images form the backbone of a political generation. Donald Brittain’s The Champions documented the era on film. Enless numbers of books have been written on the topic, and many more will continue to be.

Rene Levesque and Pierre Elliot Trudeau were the great intellectual gladiators of a generation (or more.) That generation may be coming to an end today.

Quebec has elected it’s first minority government in 130 years, and Jean Charest is the first premier of Quebec who has failed to win back to back majorities in over 20 years. None of this matters in comparison to the truly significant event of the night: the Parti Quebecois has placed third.

Rene Levesque surged to power as the leader of the PQ in 1976. This cemented a relationship with the people of Quebec that has lasted until today—Quebec’s government has always see-sawed between Liberals and the PQ. Separatism was the fundamental dividing point and it had no greater champion then Levesque, lost to his people in 1987. Canadian Federalism lost its greatest leader later in life with the death of Pierre Trudeau in the year 2000.

These two titans were both great men, and true leaders. I say this though I disagree with one bitterly. The Parti Quebecois under the leadership of Rene Levesque seized the hearts of Quebecers—French speakers and English speakers alike—who wanted nothing less than a nation. The arena of politics at its best is this…a battle for the hearts of people fought with passion, strength and will. These two fought it better than any have in the years since in this country.

They were both building nations, and both included Quebec. One exclusively, the other inclusively.

Today, the voters of Quebec passed that mantle to Mario Dumont’s Action démocratique du Québec. The ADQ defeated the PQ today, and for the first time since the days of Levesque the PQ appears to be a limp political force lacking direction, and lacking a place in the hearts of les Quebecois.

Today is the begining of the end of the Parti Quebecois. A party founded by one of the greatest gladiators of our time. Only time will tell what the long term effect of the ADQ is, but one thing is certain: today is a sad day, and the rules under which we have played for so many of the past years has changed fundamentally.

Posted by skooter at 9:19 PM This entry is filed under Politics.
This entry is tagged: Pierre Trudeau, Québecois, Quebec, Rene Levesque

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