It is amusing to sift through the thousands of column inches printed in the past couple of months throughout the Rest of Canada as pundits attempt, mostly in vain, to make sense of recent developments in Quebec politics.
With the virtual NDP sweep of the province in May and the ongoing crisis within the PQ, many observers are coming to the conclusion that sovereignty is dying as the Left is rising. With the return of François Legault, others surmise that sovereignty could rebound with better leadership and that it is the Right that is rising. It is all awfully confusing. Politicos are gorging themselves on an all-you-can-eat buffet of commentary and ending up with severe cases of indigestion.
Perhaps a completely different approach is needed. If there is one common trait across most of these analyses on Quebec it is that the analysts suffer from chronic over-analysis. The Quebec voter may not be as complex a human being as some in the ROC make him out to be. In fact, perhaps he is quite simple by nature.
Quebecers are progressive and often comfortable embracing change, politically. In the past few years, both the ADQ and NDP have seen tremendous short-term growth as voters threw their support en masse behind the party of the hour, encouraged by even the slightest variations in initial poll numbers and a media desperate for a dramatic narrative. With the ADQ, the honeymoon was short; time will tell if the NDP romance will be a more serious relationship or a one-night stand.
In both cases, the catalyst for change was not so much the visions or visionaries behind the political movements – Mario Dumont and Jack Layton weren’t new on the scene, nor were their platforms a drastic departure from previous policies – but a very basic attraction to something - anything - different.
The Quebec voter is often a kitten chasing the reflection of a laser pointer on the living room floor, smacking into the walls repeatedly; the infant enamoured with a shiny set of clanging car keys being dangled before him by his mother. The Quebec voter has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He’s a romantic; he follows his heart and is prone to spontaneous flirtations. He doesn’t look before he leaps. He is predictable in his unpredictability.