on Pauline Marois’ new ‘sovereignty offensive’

so this article from le devoir struck me as needing more response than is readable on Facebook. it explains (in french), Prime Minister Pauline Marois’ new ‘sovereignty offensive’, and then goes on to talk about her participation on the world stage.

here is a chunk in English: “After Davos, where she will attend the World Economic Forum, Pauline Marois will deliver a speech in London to businessmen and then will travel to Edinburgh, where she will meet with Prime Minister for Scotland Alex Salmond, of the Scottish National Party. Scotland is to hold a referendum on independence in 2014, whose legal framework has been the subject of an agreement between Alex Salmond and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron.

Pauline Marois said she found the agreement for the referendum between the two governments “interesting”, but also “different” from rules that prevailed in Quebec during the two referendums on sovereignty.” (thanks, google translate!)

There’s a lot going on here. Firstly, it’s a bummer that it’s Pauline representing Quebec in Davos. The government that she is responsible for is overseeing systemic educational underfunding, as well as a health system in chaos. I mention these examples because they are strictly provincial responsibilities, but don’t forget that construction in montreal seems to be owned by the mob, and that should concern taxpayers. of course, no one in Davos is going to be talking about universal access to education, or public funding for health services- and some even preside over still wackier banana republics than ours! why should the Premier do anything different?

This is the thing. I respect the right of all people to political self-determination (2nd link is to a .pdf), but if the province where I’m a citizen is interested in exercising that right, I’m very concerned about their vision of the independent country to come. Canada has problems; it’s not perfect, and getting worse. But if a culture of corruption, incompetence, and entitlement as outlined above get transposed onto a brand-new country, then that country’s going to be awful. it’s going to end up a country with corroding social services, and astronomically wealthy ministers, mafioso and mineral shareholders, like so many others.

Now I am all for Stopping Harper, and then, if that can’t be done, talking about declaring  independence. that said, the only country i’m interested in voting for is one which recognizes the need for universal access to education, healthcare, transportation, and housing, is committed to a sustainable, ecologically-sound development plan, and understands the obvious benefits that such provisions will bring to a 21st-century information economy which favours diversity, innovation, and multilingualism.

the world is pulling canada in two directions. on the one hand, larger and larger, and sometimes foreign, companies earn their bosses and shareholders more (pdf) and more money. on the other, environmental damage is making us aware that we need to act quickly to build resilient networks on a hyper-local level, to facilitate our transition to a sustainable system.

the point is that until the provincial, or (Scottish, or Catalonian, or Basque) government is prepared to implement, within the measure of its existing powers, such a development program, a sovereignty referendum is going to do more harm than good. if it fails, we are stuck with the status quo, and have lost six months to a year of our political efforts to change exactly nothing. if it succeeds, and we don’t have a resilient network of communities with shared values and mutual respect, we make ourselves very vulnerable to external systemic shocks.

there is so much a quebec government could do tomorrow (pdf) to promote social, economic, and environmental justice- to really help its most vulnerable citizens. if those efforts run into the wall of the federal government, then we have a serious decision to make- for tomorrow, though, there is work enough already.

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