My Little Corner of Canada



A call to duty

After playing hard to get for awhile, it looks as though Jean Charest is preparing the groundwork for his jump into Quebec politics. In the last few days, Mr. Charest has made the kind of noises which indicate he will go after the leadership of the Quebec Liberal Party.

The situation has left him with no other alternative. If Mr. Charest still wants to be prime minister of Canada sometime in the future or if he wants to leave his mark on Canadian history, he cannot turn away from this call to duty. If he does not answer the call, people will remember.

Recognizing that he could not shake his Gomer Pyle image, Daniel Johnson wisely stepped aside, creating a vacuum in the leadership of the federalist forces in Quebec.

Because of his continued popularity in Quebec and his impact in the last referendum, Mr. Charest was immediately seen by many people as the natural choice to challenge Mr. Bouchard and the separatists in the next provincial election, expected sometime this year. Public opinion polls have shown that he has the best chance of beating the PQ government.

If Mr. Johnson had stayed as leader of the Liberals, he would have had little chance against the charismatic Bouchard. It is not guaranteed that Charest will beat Bouchard if he does make the jump, but it certainly means that the next election in Quebec will be worth watching.

Polls indicate that the majority of Quebecors do not want another referendum soon. It appears they are getting tired of Mr. Parizeau’s “endless visits to the dentist.”

Mr. Charest and Mr. Bouchard were once comrades under Brian Mulroney. Mr. Bouchard jumped the Tory ship to defect to the separatists. Mr. Mulroney left the once mighty Tories in tatters. It was up to Mr. Charest to salvage what was left.

If Charest does jump into the breach and wins the provincial election, it would be poetic justice for him. But we should not be assuming that he will win. In Quebec politics, nothing is assured.

After he becomes the leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, the first thing Mr. Charest should do is to have a good meeting with Matthew Coon Come and Zebedee Nungak.

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