“A vote against Montreal”

With polls showing that the outcome of next week’s provincial election is too close to call, an interesting trend has emerged. According to today’s Montreal Gazette, the campaign has divided voters along regional lines, pitting the disgruntled inhabitants of rural Quebec against the urban elites of Montreal. According to political scientist and ADQ supporter Guy Laforest:

Mr. Charest is seen as being part of the Westmount/Outremont/Sherbrooke politico-business elite. Mr. Boisclair is more connected to the media/cultural elite of the Plateau Mont-Royal. Mr. Dumont appears more like a champion of the regions.

What I find worrisome is that the split is based less on linguistic concerns than on broadly cultural ones–immigration and ethnicity, for instance, which both Tornwordo and Laiya have written about here, as well as Mr. Boisclair’s sexual orientation, which certain commentators have endeavoured to make an election issue.

If the pundits are right, the Quebec split mirrors the ideological boundary between America’s “red” and “blue” states, across which the so-called culture wars are endlessly fought. In both cases, cities are viewed as a source of undesirable ideas and values that are imposed upon non-urbanites against their will, often at the expense of issues that are important to them.

I’m curious to know what Metroblogging Montreal readers think about this. Is there a fault line between the city and the regions? If so, can it be bridged, and how?

4 Comments so far

  1. andre (unregistered) on March 17th, 2007 @ 9:09 pm

    There is also the fact that many voters, like me, have not been satisfied with the Liberals over the past four years but are not ready to throw in their support to the PQ simply because of the independence/referendum issue. This pretty much leaves only the ADQ as a serious alternative.

    Quebec Solidaire lost a real opportunity when they declared that they were in favor of separation as well. Really dumb, this only turned them into a leftist PQ and prevented them from becoming a real alternative.

    In the end, I”ll be voting for the Greens. It won’t make a difference though, I live in the West Island and they would vote for a mailbox simply because its color was red.

  2. DAVE (unregistered) on March 17th, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

    I’m a former country boy and have been well assimilated into the urban jungle for almost 15 years now. And I don’t say this lightly. Folks in the country are not idiots like many urbanites tend to believe, on the contrary, they have a noble appreciation of a more authentic side of life us urbanites could learn from.

    But they SERIOUSLY lack exposure to the reality of life, such as multiculturalism (ie Herouxville), the outside world, the crunch of urban life which sustains the economy, diversity of options. They are basically close-minded due to the lack of said exposure and not because of stubbornness of any kind. This is what divides the urbans and the rurals.

    Though I envy WHERE they live most of the time, I cherish HOW I live most of the time in Montreal.

  3. Max (unregistered) on March 18th, 2007 @ 12:45 am

    Sérieusement il y a tellement un écart assez majeur entre les communautés rurales et Montréal. Même entre Montréal et la ville de Québec il est impossible de comparer les deux. Montréal est la plaque tournante mondiale du Québec. Il est évident selon moi que Montréal étant une métropole si l’on peut dire internationale qu’elle ne soit pas sujet au même débats et voir même façon de penser que dans les régions rurales. Je crois qu’il faut trouver un juste de milieu afin de satisfaire les régions tout en considérant l’importance de Montréal.

    Do people in regions of BC don’t feel the same “frustrations” about Vancouver??? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes.

    I also think it’s normal today that the split is based less on linguistic concerns but on cultural ones maybe with all the laws and stuff to protect the French language that we have today. Outside of Montreal most of the people are 100% French speaking people and don’t know a bloody single English word (except: toaster, windshield, bumper, and etc. :P). When you live in Montreal your almost born bilingual… the environment is not the same. People are a lot more afraid today of the massive immigration and all the problems that come with. Also theses problems are only or almost only in Montreal because most of immigrants establish them self in Montreal, so all the “Accommodents raisonnables” stuff is more a ubran concern than a rual one.

    So in conclusion of this bilingual comment: Oui, selon moi, il existe un faussé entre Montréal et les communautés ruales du Québec, il sera toujours impossible de trouver un terrain d’entente parfait les différences sont trop grandes et elles le seront tourjours, mais un juste milieu entre les régions du Québec tout entier et la région métropolitaine de Montréal.

  4. Ross (unregistered) on March 25th, 2007 @ 6:44 pm

    You are wrong about rural voters being the ADQ’s primary consituency. Dumont’s “base” is the press, who have been his most loyal promoters for some time now.

    As an American who who just moved here last year, I first thought M. Dumont was some sort of chief spokesperson for the government based on the amount of attention he recieved from the media here. After I read a little more about him I was extremely suprised that he was only the head of a (then) rather inconsequential 3rd party.

    I’ve heard some funny things from the media this election, to paraphrase: “the problem with Boisclair isn’t his sexuality, it’s his Italian-cut suits” or better yet, “The only way Dumont can lose this debate is if he makes a very major gaffe.”

    Heh. Talk about low expectations. I haven’t seen them that low since Bush “beat” Gore in the 2000 presidential debates.

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