Polls in Quebec show the provincial Liberals rising in popularity since media tycoon Pierre Karl Péladeau was recruited into the Parti Québécois and turned election talk away from the economy, toward the largely unpopular prospect of another referendum on Quebec sovereignty. One has to wonder if Péladeau’s talk of separatism, which accompanied his announced debut in politics, was part of a misguided party strategy, or a gaffe on the part of the inexperienced politician.
In any event, Quebec voters aren’t having any of it, it seems, with most believing (polls show) that a PQ win would not give them a mandate to hold a referendum on sovereignty, but that a majority PQ government would most likely hold one anyways (and lose, according to some of the same polls). PQ leader Pauline Marois may be wiser to steer talk back to the economy, but with the anti-labour pedigree of Péladeau, who now presumptively occupies the party’s number 2 slot, it remains an open question as to how their economic platform will appeal to their labour base. Péladeau, owner of the right-wing Sun Media empire among other media assets, is a crude fit for the left-of-centre separatist party, and his inclusion seems to send a very clear message as to the character of the new country the PQ hopes to create.
Right-left divides and political principles are, to this party of misfits and moguls, of secondary importance to the cause of nationalism. Recruiting an oligarch like Péladeau makes perfect sense for a party mired in a 19th century conception of nationhood that the rest of the world is slowly growing too old for. Péladeau and Marois share the same anachronistic worldview and irrationality of Vladimir Putin, though they lack his nuclear arsenal and brutality. But their vision of an independent nation is not too dissimilar from a dysfunctional state such as Russia: a country ruled by a close collaboration of the state and captains of industry, intolerant of immigrants who do not assimilate quickly enough, and a media unambiguously in service to the state. A nation united, if not in a shared vision of political or economic ideals, then by a common hatred and envy for that which lies west, which in Quebec’s case is Ottawa and all things English.