“We are concerned.” So begins a nine-page document that attracted a good deal of attention last fall in Quebec. For a Clear-Eyed Vision of Quebec (Pour un Québec lucide in French) rapidly became known as a “manifesto,” and the group that wrote it as “les Lucides.” An unlikely group we were: former politicians, business men and women, university professors and a journalist; sovereigntists and federalists. Concern for the future of Quebec brought us together.
It all started in the spring of 2005. A few of us happened to meet on different occasions. When we discussed the state of Quebec we found we shared an understanding of certain issues; moreover, we shared a frustration at the difficulty of raising these issues publicly without being branded “neoliberals” or “enemies of the Quebec model.” We were also worried that every time the Charest government tried to make even small changes in the way our province did things, it faced a huge wave of protest that stopped it dead in its tracks. Of course, some of the government’s problems were of its own making, but clearly Quebec could not progress if every common-sense idea was met with thousands of people protesting in the streets.
What were we to do? We started to have more formal meetings – former premier Lucien Bouchard, former principal Robert Lacroix of the University of Montreal, prominent economists Pierre Fortin and Claude Montmarquette, and myself. And then someone – I think it was Mr. Lacroix – suggested that we write and publish a text. By the time it was published we were 12.