From: Kevin Newman

I was in Grade 11 the last time a Quebec election meant this much. I remember watching in my parent’s ‘rec room’ as Rene Levesque took to the stage on a night when his Parti Quebecois was elected to government. It was as exciting as the Stanely Cup finals to me, (even though it looked to be the beginning of the end for my country). It was probably the event that told me I had to be close to history to witness what came next — the moment I vowed to become a journalist.

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Tonight was another one of those nights. So much has changed. The threat of a separatist referendum that has hung over the country for thirty years is gone for a generation. With three strong and legitimate Parties in Quebec now, the debate will change inside the Province and outside as well. The conservative voice in Quebec, lost with the disapperarance of the Union Nationale, now has achampion again in the ADQ. Its back-to-the-future. The PQ will not vanish, but French-speaking Quebec voters have finally tired of the referendum threat and decided to try something different. That they went to the ADQ and not the Liberals should have Charest’s party concerned. Interestingly, the protest vote in English-speaking communities went largely to the Greens, not the ADQ. A sign of its strength in what just became an almost sure-fire federal election this Spring?

The long see-saw of federalist and separatist government’s trading places has been replaced by a much broader and layered political discussion in Quebec. This can only be a good development for the rest of the country. As long asMario Dumont remains committed to a ‘third-way’ ahead and doesn’t suddenly revert to his one-time Separatist leanings, we can look forward to a level of political stability in Canada that seemed to be lost forever thirty years ago.

But as they say, nothing in politics is forever. Just look at that other major political story today: Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams agreeing to share power in Northern Ireland!