Opinion | Quebec’s democracy is not in good shape

For more than 10 months now, François Legault has overshadowed Quebec with a power that is without equal in the history of the province. Indeed, thanks to the state of health emergency, he is not accountable to anyone.

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His cabinet, the democratically elected members of the National Assembly, the courts… François Legault currently has no counterweight to curb his excessive arbitrariness. As a result, Quebec society is at his mercy. The concentration of power in his hands is the result of a profound democratic imbalance.

If at least, such a concentration were justified by an efficient and functional strategy to deal with COVID, then it would already bear a little more legitimacy. But this is not at all the case. On the contrary, Quebec is the state in North America that has applied the most drastic lockdown while having the most disastrous record in this regard. Such a paradox amply proves that something is not wrong. Excessive politics does not guarantee success; on the contrary, it tends to annihilate rights and freedoms without any sustainable justification.

Democracy is not only based on the separation of powers, it is also based on the plurality of votes. There is not a single absolute truth but a plurality of ideologies that clash. At the moment, however, there is only one discourse being overwhelmingly deployed in the public space.

A dreadful mechanism has been put in place: any criticism of health measures appears to be a kind of pathology. As proof, all the opposition parties in the National Assembly are silent and do not dare to criticize the government’s explicit excesses. Worse still, we are at such a point that Québec Solidaire, the province’s woke socialist party appears to be a credible opposition, an indicator that the world is clearly upside down.

The troubling unanimity of the National Assembly highlights Quebec’s democratic flaw: it is absolutely false that all Quebecers are in favour of the CAQ’s health measures. On the contrary, a considerable part of the population sees that the lockdown and curfew are at once ineffective, destructive and liberticidal. The problem is that this fringe of the population is very often marginalized and ridiculed by the measures in place, particularly by the media apparatus.

Also, the only party that represents them, Éric Duhaime’s Conservative Party of Quebec has no institutional representation for the moment.

It will be necessary to question this political-media system that pathologizes any criticism of the health regime, even the most legitimate ones. This system has hints of totalitarianism; it has no place in our societies.

Quebec is currently experiencing a serious democratic crisis. The National Assembly should be the guarantor of a plurality of votes; however, at this moment, it embraces health unanimity, without any fundamental criticism.

When Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois questions the government’s directives, he is called conspirational and Trump-like in return, which is obviously absurd. The system in place refuses any substantial criticism of the health measures, which goes against the democratic foundations. A significant part of the population is currently not represented, both in the media and in political institutions; these factors are the right ingredients for a crisis of representation, i.e., populism.

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