Lucien Bouchard is apparently less of a Quebecer today than before. At least, this is what Québec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir seems to think. Khadir and Bouchard had it out during a parliamentary commission on the rights of mining and petroleum companies to compensation after the Quebec government revoked their exploration permits.In any other democratic society, this would be a decent dust-up between a respected right-of-centre former politician and an upstart lefty over the very relevant issue of shale gas development.
This being Quebec, though, the debate inevitably devolved into a jingoistic pissing match instigated by Khadir and brought to a full boil by Bouchard.
Khadir: Mr. Bouchard, many people, especially sovereignists, are disappointed to see you become a representative of the oil and gas industry. It is pretty inconceivable that one can at once serve the interests of a nation while working ardently to protect the interests of foreign multinationals that seek to despoil our natural resources. you haven’t been faithful to your pledge to serve the public good…
Bouchard: Must I be subjected to the moral judgements of this man? Is that now the tradition in this forum, to pass moral judgements on people who testify?
Khadir: Well, it’s because you serve the interests of…
Bouchard: But it’s absolutely disgraceful Where are we? Is this an anarchist’s courtroom?
Khadir: M. Bouchard, I’m sorry. I didn’t want to personally insult you.
Bouchard: You said that I haven’t been faithful to Quebecers, sir.
Khadir: I said you haven’t been faithful to the role incumbent to premier…
Bouchard: I don’t recognize your right to pass judgement on my faithfulness towards Quebecers. Not one right. He’s beyond the pale, M. President.
Khadir: Mr. Bouchard is here because he’s worried about the exploration and development rights of companies that are mostly American or Canadian from outside Quebec….
Egads. You see what happens here? These two gentlemen are discussing an issue that would affect thousands of Quebecers should the resource be developed, while millions more (say, the entire province) stands to gain from what is under our feet. The stakes are incredibly high, and yet two of the more important people charged with setting the boundaries in parliament would rather argue over who has the bigger fleur-de-lys. Congrats, ladies.