On Campus

PQ unpins its red square

Is it political pandering for Parti Quebecois leader to stop wearing the symbol of the Quebec student movement?

Photo by Sweet One/Flickr

From Blog Central on Macleans.ca, by Martin Patriquin

There is something very odd going on over at PQ (pre) election headquarters these days. the province is teetering on an election call: The Liberal Party of Quebec put out this video in which Jean Charest, looking like a totally humourless version of the Glad Garbage man, gives us a campaign-style reminder of how great his government is. PQ leader Pauline Marois quickly appeared in a campaign-style rebuke of Charest’s video. Last week, the PQ emblazoned its website with the red square, that small piece of scarlet felt that supporters of the student movement have taken to safety pinning to their lapels.

And then, days later, it was gone. As gone as it was from Marois’s own lapel, where it has been since the beginning of the student strike roughly four months ago. “I won’t wear it anymore,” Marois said recently. “I have chosen to wear the fleur de lis.”

The disappearance is odder still when you consider how much political capital Marois et al. have invested in the student cause. She has repeatedly hammered Charest on the government’s treatment of the students—criticism that only overflowed once the Liberals introduced Bill 178 78 (thx @jocelynlegault.) Marois recently accused Charest of purposefully prolonging the student strike for political ends.

You have to wonder whether Marois herself is guilty of political pandering. Certainly, that’s what some students think. ”It doesn’t surprise me that Pauline Marois decided to stop wearing the red square because it wasn’t real support for the students,” a CEGEP student told the Gazette. “The only reason she was opposing the tuition fee increase was because the Liberals were doing it but a Pequiste government wanted to do it too.”

Perhaps Marois realized (rather late) what has been clear in the polls since the outset of the strike: most Quebecers—nearly 70 per cent, according to a recent CROP takeout on the subject—side with the government’s position, if not the government itself.

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