Electoral Coup de Coeur

Françoise DavidThis week’s election campaign led to four televised debates, and if there were any surprises, few stood out quite as much as the performance Québec Solidaire’s co-spokesperson Françoise David delivered during the first debate, the only one in which she participated.

Everybody knows, including David and her co-spokesperson, Amar Khadir, that Québec Solidaire has no chance of forming the next government. However, with her performance, David may have ensured that the joke of calling QS “Québec Solitaire” due to having only member in the National Assembly could be naught in the next assembly.

Choosing David over Khadir to participate in the debate was a coup for QS. Although David is no less hard-line in her lefty and sovereignist positions than Khadir, she is far less acerbic and moralistic than he is. She held her own during the debate against the other three seasoned politicians, and was even commended by none other than incumbent Liberal premier Jean Charest.

Granted, she had nothing to lose and everything to gain, not to mention that she never held a seat in the Assembly which spared her from attacks from the other three. “L’effet David” in the debate may be that, this time, she received the exposure she needed in her own riding of Gouin to unseat the sitting Parti Québécois (PQ) MNA.

I don’t know if QS has a real chance in other ridings in Montréal’s east end aside from Mercier which is currently held by Khadir, but I certainly don’t expect that QS will make any significant headway in my own riding of Outremont, which has always been Liberal since its creation in 1966. If there is a challenge in my riding, it will likely come from François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), although that depends if the students, of which there are many in this riding, do indeed come out to vote AND choose to vote in this riding rather than their home riding.

Indeed, despite having Québec-wide aspirations, QS’s appeal is concentrated on the Island of Montréal and maybe Gatineau across the river from Ottawa. In fact, there are undeniably trends among the regions of Québec. The Québec City area, for instance, tends to lean more on the conservative side, the Island of Montréal on the progressive side, and everywhere else …well, it’s all over the map ranging from centre to centre-right (à la Québécoise, which now tends to be more like the rest of Canada’s centre). What will be interesting to watch on election day is how the CAQ will attract disappointed Liberals in the “450,” which is the telephone area code surrounding the Island of Montréal. Much of it surprisingly turned to the ADQ in 2007, although it reverted to its usual Liberal/PQ mix in the election held the next year.

I mentioned in my previous post about this election that, despite my reservations with Khadir and QS, I might vote for QS given that I’m in a hopelessly Liberal riding so it won’t make much difference in the end. However, David’s performance during the debate will bring me not to pinch my nose quite as hard when I do vote QS on September 4. I always knew that I would end up voting for a sovereignist party because all Québec parties on the left are sovereignist, but this will be my first time actually doing so …for indeed, I did manage to get on the voters’ list last Monday night. Maybe a PQ minority government with QS holding the real balance of power wouldn’t be such a bad thing as long as sterile talk of sovereignty doesn’t hijack the political discourse.

I say “sterile” because that’s the only point on which I agree with François Legault’s CAQ: there’s no appetite for it right now. However, this campaign has brought me to think a lot about something that isn’t on the radar, namely an “in-between” solution that I’ll timidly call autonomy. I have no idea how that would work or how it should be set up. All I can think of is that the Netherlands has actual autonomous countries within its own country, but then those are small and distant Caribeean islands while Québec has a population of 8 million…

Corrie Coming Out

Coronation Street--Kirsty and TyroneAnyone who knows me in person already knows that I’m a fan of Coronation Street, but I don’t think I’ve ever “come out” about it at aMMusing. BeeGoddessM got me started more than half a decade ago, but then I dropped out for about two years around the time I moved to Montréal. But now I’m back and I so hate missing a day that I organize my weekdays around watching it at 6:30 pm or midnight.

For the longest time, the episodes in Canada were about 10 months behind the U.K. However, since last September, CBC has been airing two episodes per evening so, starting this September, we’ll be in sync with the Brits. The only downside is that I’ll miss my daily one-hour fix of Corrie when it reverts to a half-hour.

The storylines have been particularly compelling in the past year. However, as of last night in particular, the one about “Psycho” Kirsty abusing her fiancé Tyrone has struck a chord in me. I wish it didn’t.

No, NowEx never physically assaulted me as Kirsty is given to doing on Tyrone. However — and I know it’s only acting on a TV soap — but the scene where Tyrone reluctantly confides to Tina about Kirsty? Yup! It hit me. The fear in Tyrone’s face and his suggesting that he was somehow at fault for provoking her? Oh yeah… That’s what I call the “walking on eggshells” phase. You don’t truly believe you’re at fault unless you factor in that you’re in fact trying to cover your real fault of not having seen it coming (or refusing to see it coming) until it’s too late.

I find it intriguing how something as trivial as a TV show can dredge up such muck. Unlike before the divorce, it doesn’t drag me down. But I thought that the divorce was going to be the equivalent of sealing all that muck into an air-tight bin. Obviously not. And that reminds me of lyrics in a song by Michael Franks: “If the heart ever heals / Does the scar always show?”

I’m afraid it does always show. It doesn’t hurt anymore. It doesn’t even drag you down. But the scar is a reminder that never goes away.

As such, there are unexpected consequences. One the one hand, the hair on my neck still rise whenever I hear Spanish spoken; on the other, there’s a part of me that would like to go back to studying Spanish at the YMCA. I would like that for a few reasons: first, it would be a structured activity to get me out of the house; second, learning another language is an excellent mental exercise as we get older; third, learning another language is the opposite of insularity, and finally, it’s such a shame to piss away all the effort and money I’ve invested into learning the bit I’ve learned but, sadly, mostly forgotten. For the last three years, my reaction to hearing Spanish has been to tune it out in order not to start fuming inside; I would like to just get over that hump.

Also interesting to me is how my divorce has brought my mom to divulge some family dirty secrets that are eerily similar to my own experience. She’d dropped a few hints here and there in the past, but she was never as specific as she has been recently. I don’t think she confided these things in a “You’re not alone” spirit, but I think she had a “Ah ha” moment when I made the comparison.

Back to Corrie, though: Yes, the storylines are often way over the top, and that everyone in a tiny neighbourhood like Weatherfield could be so interlinked is the least believable of all, not to mention that far too many murders and crazy deaths have occurred over the years. However, there’s a real effort on the part of the writers and the actors to tackle real and occasionally taboo social issues — sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much.

I’d say the current Kirsty/Tyrone storyline is one of the successful ones. On-screen Kirsty may seem over the top to some, but not to me. And how scary is that, huh?