Jun 2012

An open letter to Jean Charest


Dear Jean,
In spite of what everyone seems to be saying these days, I don't believe that you're such a bad guy.
People seem to have forgotten that you were once a boy, growing up in Sherbrooke,
un québécois de chez nous. With an Irish mother (Rita) and a Quebecois father (Claude Charest, aptly nicknamed "Red"), you were raised for success. Perfectly bilingual, articulate, intelligent, charming; you could have been the next Prime Minister of Canada.

Your departure from leadership of the Progressive Conservative party to join the Liberals was seen as an act of treason by the Blues, and many others thought you were either wishy-washy or just plain opportunist. But I understand, as I'm sure you do, that party-based politics are a bit of a joke—that too many people vote based on the physical appearance of the leader, or on the movements of the masses, or on the party colour (red, blue, orange, green), or simply because they were raised to vote a certain way.
When you left a successful career in federal politics to stand up to the sovereignty movement here in Quebec, you did so with reluctance, but you brought determination, savvy and skill to the defense of Canada. And you were victorious! So few seem to remember that you did that, but I do.
I also remember that you took on the Quebec labour unions who—as far as I can tell—often abused their powers under the guise of "worker support". I can see now why they are so much in support of the current protests.
You also, once upon a time, helped your Liberal team win three consecutive mandates, including two majorities. People at that time MUST have seen that you were doing SOMETHING right.
Now the Liberals (with you as their figurehead) are being accused of corruption, suppression of freedom, and even worse.
You, Jean, are even being killed in effigy.
Of course, we all know that your Liberal government is corrupt... because all governments are corrupt; the PQ was no better when it was in power; the federal Conservatives are as guilty as the Grits; the NDPs will one day go too far to help their political allies. Perhaps "corruption" and the governance of millions of people go hand in hand. And although to us Quebeckers there seems to be no more corrupt state in the world than Canada (and especially Quebec) we are actually doing quite well, by global standards.
So, even though there may be hundreds or even thousands of people out there who compare you to Mubarak, or Pinochet, or even Hitler, I know that your moral character sails high above the trenched hearts of these infamous antiheroes.
In fact, I am well aware that although you are an individual, you are part of an organization of men and women who are doing their best to keep Quebec as a wonderful place to live—and as far as I'm concerned, you have succeeded.
I don't think I'm the only person in Quebec who feels this way.
Although there is very little chance that you will get re-elected (and I'm sure you've probably had enough of being denigrated for all your hard work) I am certain that whoever takes the reins of this province will be burdened with the same economic, social, and political issues that you have. I hope they will work hard to keep Quebec healthy, thriving and safe, all-the-while remaining within Canada: the envy of most nations in the world. And in spite of what all the square-wearing protesters (ironically bearing the Liberal red) may believe, I believe that you have done a splendid job and have held your head high through the turmoil.
Put it this way, Jean: If I were Red (your father) I would be proud of you.
Yours ever,
Adam Kelly Morton