When the Quebec Legislature began its first post-election session in November of 1989, the first speaker was Jacques Parizeau.
It was my first day there as an Equality Party Member, and he surprised me, by giving a very non-partisan address, almost the kind one would expect from someone like a Lieutenant-Governor.
Parizeau was amiable and wide-ranging, and drew our attention to the painting above the Speaker. It was entitled “The Language Question in Quebec,” an early sitting of the Lower Canada Parliament in 1793, when it was first decided that French would be allowed in debate. He almost seemed to be hinting at an underlying reality: that the Legislature was on most days an oil painting masquerading as an action film, or a theatrical performance, in which he was looking forward to playing the role of a lifetime.