It was a tense election, but I didn’t think it would end this way. In the alley, behind Metropolis, one person on the ground, held there by cops making his gun visible to the cameras, another, sound technician Denis Blanchette, dead and another injured.

PQ leader Pauline Marois, newly minted Premier-designate rushed off stage by security mid-speech. She had just won a minority government.

That’s right, the same kind of government that made Harper hold a damn kitten on his lap for years. A minority PQ can’t and won’t call a referendum. They can’t even hold a bake sale without at least some Liberal, CAQ or QS MNAs supporting it.

The election result was perfect for progressives, even for progressive anglos like me. Charest was gone (officially as leader this afternoon) and the PQ can’t do much, except maybe stuff that’s good for everyone.

And then some idiot goes and brings a gun to the PQ victory party. And he has the nerve to say as the cops were parading him in front of the cameras, in French, that the English were waking up.

Waking up from what? Waking up from years of voting for the Liberals no matter what? Waking up from the Federalist/Sovereigntist English/French debate that has dominated our political discourse in Quebec for too long?

Apparently, the shooter hasn’t woken up yet. Sad. Even more sad that one person is dead.

For the rest of the evening, well, here’s what I was planning to write up until the plot changed:

Quebeckers sent a message that they reject Bill 78, tuition increases and Charest’s corruption. That’s a good thing, in my book, because enforced austerity must be rejected. Charest had to go.

They also elected our first-ever woman premier. While I’m not a fan of some of the things Marois said during the campaign and am disturbed by others, I’m happy that our local political glass ceiling has been shattered and believe that she will do her best to make her new government work.

The impact of the CAQ was muted—also good. Quebec Solidaire doubled its seats, now both leaders, Francoise David and Amir Khadir, are MNAs and the party finished second and third in quite a few ridings. This is a big step forward for a forward-thinking party.

There was a chance, that finally, the discourse would change. The parties were forced to work together, Marois even spoke English during her speech (that’s finish your drink time in our Quebec Election Night Drinking Game).

All this, sadly, will take a backseat to one confused individual’s attempt to bring us back to that same discourse.

There is a vigil tonight at 8pm in front of the Metropolis for the victim of last night’s shooting

Ever been asked if you’d rather contract herpes, gonorrhoea or crabs? That’s pretty much the question facing progressive Quebec voters on September 4th, at least when it comes to what the mainstream media (and TVA in particular) see as the three main parties. I’m beginning to understand why so many politically active students are considering not voting.

First we have Jean Charest’s Liberals (PLQ). If this election is about anything, it’s a referendum on Bill 78, Charest’s handling of the student strike and corruption in the construction industry.

Unless you’re a supporter of one or more of those things, then one thing is crystal clear: everything else aside, Jean Charest has got to go. But you replace him with who or rather what?

The PQ? True, Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois was really playing to progressives a few months ago. Her MNAs were passionately speaking out against Bill 78 and she seemed to be stepping away from the PQ boilerplates of sovereignty and language towards more socially-driven causes. She even wore a red square.

Now in campaign mode, her red square is gone and that boilerplate is back on the table. Just a reminder that today’s PQ and PLQ are essentially the same corporate party, with minor philosophical differences. Voting PQ to get rid of Charest is like banging a nail through your thumb with a hammer to take away the pain from the brick you just dropped on your toe.

That brings us to the Coalition de l’Avenir du Quebec or CAQ (most unfortunate acronym when said as a word in English, ever). François Legault left the PQ, hooked up with some Adequistes and formed a new party. Well, new if you’re talking dates, ideas are a different story.

This is basically the ADQ all over again. While they’re making a big deal about cleaning up corruption and have a better track record in that department than the PLQ or PQ (not hard given they’ve only existed since last year) their platform includes some right-leaning gems like exploring the idea of a two-tiered healthcare system.

They originally voted for Bill 78, but now are suggesting that they would eliminate some of the law’s provisions. I’m not usually one to champion a black or white approach to politics, but the unconstitutional suspension of basic rights and freedoms is a pretty cut and dry topic.

It’s something you really should be either for or against. There are fences you can sit on. This one, they’ll find, is particularly uncomfortable.

All this is not to say that there aren’t choices out there that lean left or are full-on progressive. In fact there are three.

Option Nationale is interesting. They’re advocating two things primarily: free tuition and sovereignty.

While I support the former wholeheartedly, the latter really isn’t my cup of tea (not a fan of any type of nationalism: Canadian, American or Quebec) and is something that has been played to death in Quebec.

What’s interesting, though, about ON, is their marketing approach. They released a video in French talking about the tuition issue and one in English talking about sovereignty.

It’s rare for a Quebec party to make ads in English in general, but aiming a separation pitch squarely at anglos is a unique approach to say the least. Can’t quite tell if it signifies a bold new way of doing politics or that they sent the wrong script to the translator by mistake

There’s also the Quebec Green Party. Not usually a ballot box favourite anywhere in North America, these Greens seem particularly confused.

First they made former MERSQ (a group for the tuition increase) president Karolane Baillargeon their candidate in Outremont. Then, after news of her recent job spread in the media, they backpedaled and announced that she wouldn’t be their candidate.

While Green squares apparently aren’t a great fit in the Quebec Green Party, I doubt any of them would have even thought of approaching Québec Solidaire to run. Party co-leader Amir Khadir was, after all, arrested at a casseroles demonstration and was very vocal against Bill 78, urging civil disobedience shortly after it was passed.

I like QS. That is to say I like most of their ideas. I’m not too fond of their insistence on sovereignty, but at least their vision for it is an inclusive one that goes beyond one dominant culture seceding. They even got slammed by former Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe, you know, the guy who oversaw the decimation of his party when the Orange Wave hit last year.

Will there be a Vague Solidaire sweeping Quebec in September? Well, while I admit that it’s not likely, stranger things have happened in Quebec. QS is the one left-leaning party with a chance (albeit a small one) of winning. Maybe the climate is right.

If not, then we can all go back to protesting and demanding real change out of whatever “major” party takes or keeps power in hopes of washing the bad taste out of our mouths.

* photo by Iana Kazakova