It’s election time, with Quebec’s 42nd general election set for October 1, and Francois Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec poised to oust Premier Philippe Couillard and the Quebec Liberals. Along with the notification comes an earnest plea for everyone to vote, especially Blacks. Not voting can itself be a way of voting.
The trumpery of the present Liberal party campaign has led some of us to decide that we want no part of it, and so will not vote. There are, of course, those who challenge the idea that everyone should vote. According to an oft heard argument, there’s no point in voting because, in most elections, the chance that one vote will make a difference is close to zero. However, now more than ever, Black voter participation is essential if the trajectory of this election is to undergo a change.
For too long Blacks in Quebec have been on the receiving end of neglect and disparate treatment, even by candidates who win with the overwhelming support of the Black vote.
As has been previously stated, while we cannot cast or contemplate casting our vote based simply on color or sexual identity of the candidate, but instead on the commitment of the party to address certain national, regional, local and culture- specific needs, we must ask ourselves some relevant questions, the answers to which will undoubtedly affect our continued presence in Quebec. Unquestionably, the health and longevity, education, employment, security, transportation, rights and freedom are essential to the objective and subjective well-being of every Canadian and Quebecer. Politicians have long been staples in our community.
However, if members of the Black community would be completely honest, they would admit that a lot of political candidates are pulling their best gimmicks to win Black votes.
What tangible evidence exists to prove that any of our elected officials have actually advocated for us?
Ask yourself, when it comes to developing sound policies and legislation for the Black community, when was the last time your elected officials drafted any policy or advocated for any legislation at the provincial/municipal and/or federal level that has positively impacted you?
It is blatantly obvious that regardless of the elected official’s race or ethnicity, the Black community has been short-changed when it comes to advocacy by many of our elected officials.
In addition we have been further deprived of having progressive and substantive policies drafted by many of their elected officials.
In many cases, instead of talking to elected officials about substantive policies and key legislation, elected officials are often sought to attend events or take pictures with a member of the Black community. You would think that they are Hollywood stars rather than public servants who are elected to serve the people and who possess the power to champion for substantive policies that can literally change the economic landscape and quality of life of our communities.
Many of these campaign operatives and aspiring candidates have it down to a science. It is a highly interesting phenomenon to watch, as Blacks are strategically sought.
When it comes to developing key, solid policies that will help the Black community, many of these same candidates disappear faster than Harry Houdini — never to be heard from again — until the next election cycle rolls around. Should we not be telling them well in advance what we expect and not wait for them to decide what will best help them garner Black votes? Or what will best appease the Black mind?
Polls after polls have shown that voters are ready for a change, but such a change is accompanied by a certain degree of disquietude.
Francois Legault’s CAQ is gaining unprecedented popularity, bolstered by his anti-immigration proclamation, to lower by 10,000 yearly the number of immigrants entering Quebec.
Concomitant with this move is also his threat to have these immigrants sent away from Quebec if they fail to attain a certain level of French proficiency within a certain time.
Now in a seemingly disguised co-conspiratorial role, the beleaguered Parti Quebecois led by Jean-François Lisée has annexed itself close to the CAQ’s policy on the number of newcomers Quebec can accept and ask that they know some level of French when they arrive.
To attract a significant number of Anglophone and allophone voters, Legault knows that more than words are needed, but whether or not he cares is questionable. He openly mused that he has nothing specific to offer Quebec’s Anglos, “nothing more, nothing less than the Liberals.”
The Black community deserves to be treated more like a partner in a serious relationship, versus some fling on the side where politicians whisper sweet nothings in our ears in order to get the only thing they really, truly want — the Black vote.
The Black community must stop allowing disengaged elected officials to continue making empty promises in order to get their vote, and then turn around, close the deal (get their vote), and never hear anything from these individuals until they need the Black vote again. The same thing also goes for political candidates who don’t win when they run for office.
We need to elect politicians who care about creating sound legislation and being advocates for the Black community year-round.
The same energy and efforts that these elected officials use to get elected, or re-elected, should be the same energy they use when it comes to sitting down with the Black community to better understand our needs, and advocates for policies that positively impact their community.
If the constituents of these elected officials have not progressed since they have been in office, and are no more advanced as a result of their leadership, it is time to start looking for new leadership. Elected officials can keep giving out chicken dinners, BBQ cookouts, fish plates, steak days, gift cards, air conditioners for senior citizens, etc., but what the Black community really needs, however, are sound policies, legislation and advocacy from their elected officials.