Even the best marriage can be destroyed by abuse. I have been a Liberal at the federal and provincial levels all my adult life, as was my father before me. But there is a limit to how much abuse anyone will take.
Decades ago, when Quebec Premiere Jean Lesage shouted, "Maitre Chez Nous" for the first time, I got the message that the "nous" in that comment did not include people like me - English speaking, Jewish. (I wasn't a Christian yet). Never mind that my family members have been Canadians living in Montreal for a hundred years - we would never be accepted by Quebec extremists as "pure laine" - never be included in the "nous." I was old enough to remember that Quebec was a comfortable place for fascists.
As a delegate to a Quebec Liberal convention many years ago, I was told by a Francophone member, "You English, you Jews, will always vote Liberal. You have no choice.'
Back then when I was still Phyllis Mass - not yet Phyllis Carter with my second marriage - I knew that those who were not "pure laine" were at a distinct disadvantage in Quebec because of growing extremism. True, it seemed we had no choice. We voted Liberal and we hoped. We voted Liberal and we tried to participate. We voted Liberal and we contributed with our work and with money. We voted Liberal and we choked on it. How could we vote for the separatists who were determined to tear apart our blessed Canada !
Those who had a lot of money and the young and well educated who could pull up stakes easily and start afresh elsewhere - they took off and headed for greener pastures right behind Sun Life. Even smart young Francophones saw the opportunity to get out and ran. The cream at the top got out of Quebec.
But the older folks, those who were not wealthy, the poorly educated, the handicapped - those very folks who were held in contempt by the extremists - extremists who were still in the Quebec Liberal party along with Rene Levesque - the folks at the bottom of the ladder stayed in Quebec.
Ironic. The separatists scared off the cream of the crop and got stuck with us.
We who have always been Montrealers, who have deep roots here, who have friends here or small businesses, or who are just bloody stubborn about our right to be here - at home. We have stayed. And we have voted Liberal.
But here is the breaking point. Jean Charest's government now plans to make us pay user fees for our health care ! Quebec's new budget will tax health care up to $200. by 2012. There is even the threat of a charge for every medical visit !
Here is how Jean Charest intends to save money: What the Quebec Liberals are going to do is pass laws that will kill off the poor and the weak. But it is a really Liberal plan - because it will not only kill off the weak among the English and Jacques Parizeau's "Ethnics". It will also kill off the Francophone, "pure laine" old, and sick, and poor.
And the Quebec Liberal Party will take pride in balancing the budget over our dead bodies.
And so this is the end of the marriage. Life and health must come before politics. If we are dead, we get no more votes and we have no more hope. And so, we who can see the implications of Jean Charest's budget will not vote for the Quebec Liberals again. While we are still Canadians, we still have a choice.
I will vote for ANY party that protects and augments our health care system and ensures that every Canadian living in Quebec who needs medical care gets it. And if that means voting for the separatists, so be it.
While we are alive and healthy we can change the future.
Pauline Marois, send me an application form.