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Friday, January 27, 2006
Quebec : Canada :: South : USA

I read an article a couple years ago that summed it up quite nicely:
"French-speaking Quebec, with nearly a quarter of the population and its open social attitudes, pulls Canada to the left, just as the South and Bible Belt increasingly pull the United States in the opposite direction, particularly on issues like abortion, gay marriage and capital punishment."

- Clifford Kraus for the NYTimes (reprinted by Common Dreams).
The similarities are most clear around issues of religion. Bush can't talk for two minutes without giving shout-outs to at least two members of his Holy Trinity Crew, while faith is still capital-A anathema to Canadian politics (witness the current tizzy over Harper's use of a very American-sounding phrase).

The difference? Quebec rejected the Catholic Church in the 50s and 60s so hard, and Canada elected Quebecer PMs three out of four times since 1968*, starting with Pierre "Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos" Elliot Trudeau. Meanwhile, in the 70s the born-again Christian movement spread through the American South like herpes, and Americans elected Southern boys three out of four times since 1977, starting with evangelical Jimmy "We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon" Carter. Both regions have exerted their strong ideological influence over their respective countries ever since.

Conclusion: Due to its long-standing societal stance towards religion, Quebec is the polar opposite of the American South. And on days like today (-15°C), I mean polar.

*I'm not playing the "Joe Who", "John Turner Sucks" and "Kim's Summer Job" games, sorry.

As for the election, the field is wide open. The Conservatives have a hell of small minority lead, so they'll have to keep the far-right agenda under wraps for a little while longer. The Liberals have a chance to really reform their party now that Martin resigned. The NDP better keep playing their cards close to their chest (worked well for them last time). As for the Bloc, in paediatrics (my current rotation) we would simply call this "failure to thrive". No joke. Hope these ideas answer your Canadian political questions. Always glad to help!

ps: Enjoy the Canadian cocktails, Megly. Keep your stick on the ice!

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