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A society in search of itself

Reactions to Quebec’s “Lucide” manifesto

by Joseph Facal

 

15 bouchard smallLast October, 12 Quebecers of various professional backgrounds and political affiliations, led by former premier Lucien Bouchard, released a manifesto entitled For a Clear-Eyed Vision of Quebec (Pour un Québec lucide in French). While it acknowledged the huge progress made by Quebec society since the Quiet Revolution,  the manifesto also raised concerns about Quebec’s future as a vibrant and prosperous modern society as it confronts demographic decline, growing public debt, mounting foreign competition, institutional gridlock and a general unwillingness to face reality.

The outpouring of opinion which followed our call to arms exceeded our wildest expectations. Some of the hysterically negative reactions clearly illustrated one of our key points: in a society which sometimes gives the distinct impression of having lost the ability to conduct important public debates in an orderly manner, distorting people’s views and branding them as nefarious neoconservatives is becoming the standard way of dealing with unwelcome realities.

But the overwhelmingly positive response of huge segments of that silent majority which does not parade on talk shows or write in the op-ed pages of Le Devoir has encouraged us to keep finding new ways of spreading our message of realism and renewal. We were even indirectly responsible for helping a brand new left-wing party called Québec Solidaire find its name. It comes directly from the title of a countermanifesto, Manifeste pour un Québec solidaire, issued in response to ours.

So the first thing to do is to set the record straight. All those who signed our manifesto, if I may be allowed to put forward my interpretation of where they stand, recognize the tremendous achievements made since the 1960s in Quebec. Not one of us proposes dismantling the “modèle québécois” of development. Not one of us believes that sacrifices should be made only by a particular segment of our society. Not one of us believes that our informal group has a monopoly on lucidity. But neither do we believe that anyone else has a monopoly on social justice.

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About the Author

Joseph Facal
Joseph Facal was a cabinet minister in the Parti Québécois governments of Lucien Bouchard and Bernard Landry between 1998 and 2003. He now teaches sociology and management at the École des Hautes Études Commerciales in Montreal and writes a column for the mass-circulation tabloid Le Journal de Montréal and a blog on Le Journal’s website.




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