The provincial elections are coming up fast in Quebec and I went in to register today. Before I went, though, it came to my attention that I would probably be rejected. Here's why:
Pauline Marois, current Premier of Quebec and Queen of the Hugely Racist Assholes*, is freaking out that anglophones are being allowed to vote in Montreal. What she calls "voter fraud" is the hundreds of anglophones from other Canadian provinces who have made Quebec their home for at least the last six months, and who want to exercise their legal right to vote.
'We don't want this election stolen by people from Ontario and the rest of Canada.' - Bertrand St-Arnaud, Justice Minister
Students and former-student residents alike are being turned away at the registration office, having been arbitrarily deemed "non-domiciled". And when I say arbitrary, I mean you are more likely to get hassled in some neighbourhoods than others, and the neighbourhoods that are seeing crackdowns? Predominantly anglophone.
Here's why that's not cool:
People who have been living and working in Quebec for years are being turned away because of their place of birth and preferred language. If you came to Montreal to study, even if you stayed to live and work after graduation, you are suspect and may not be given your right to vote in this election. And I cannot state clearly enough how important this election is. Young people want to join their voices to oppose oppressive and unconstitutional legislation supported by the current government**, and they are being actively and publicly denied the right to do so.
I am angry. I am angry that (even though I am lucky enough to live in the right riding and am now, thankfully, registered to vote) I have not been able to shake the intimidation I felt when showing my Ontario birth certificate, having to admit that my preferred language of correspondence is English, and making sure to communicate in my Very Best French.
Because after hearing about the possibility that my right to vote could be taken away, I was scared. I felt the fear and anger I feel when I experience any other sort of prejudice and violence based on my language and origin, except this time I couldn't blame it on a radical separatist youth spray painting "maudit anglo" on all the stop signs in my neighbourhood. This is institutional. This is happening. Why did it take me 3 days to hear about it? Where is the stink, the uproar? Where's the protest?
The whole thing has me exhausted and is making me want to GTFO of this obviously bonkers province. But at the same time, I know that is exactly Marois' goal with this kind of thing. The Premier says out-of-province students can't vote because they don't stick around after graduating. Out-of-province students don't stick around after graduating because they are actively barred from participating in the culture, business and politics. But two years ago I chose to stay, and I'm going to stay, because Montreal is beautiful and has so much to offer, and I want to be a part of it.
I regularly defend Quebec's right to protect its francophone interests from people who would say their cause doesn't matter. If Quebec doesn't care about its francophonie, who will? Anglophones have it pretty good everywhere else in Canada, so I could never ever begrudge francophones for being protective of their language and cultural space. But goddammit this government is no longer just approaching fascism, it's a one-two punch of racist legislation and a xenophobic and jingoist redefining of basic rights, with the double intent of forcing through said legislation and further alienating an unwanted population.
All these testimonials are living proof that it can happen to you. So please, folks, don't ever take for granted your right to vote. And if you're in Quebec, make your voice heard on April 7th.
*LaurensJam wrote a great article on the discourse surrounding the Charter of Values not too long ago, you should check it out. It's pretty unbelievable.
**I want to speak directly to Premier Marois when I say that, if you're losing an election after proposing that we deny jobs to men and women whose religious and cultural identities you find "offensive", when you are proposing that we make law your hatred toward anything that does not fall in line with francophone heritage, don't blame your failure on the anglos. You made your hateful bed, it's time for you and your politics to lie in it.