The Notepad Vol. 4: Dragon Queens
With his fundraising in the toilet and poll numbers sinking, Quebec Conservative leader Éric Duhaime is getting desperate. That's precisely what makes him so dangerous.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Éric Duhaime is angry.
Not about vaccines or “kids these days” and not about the vegan cyclist collective come to swap his red meat for marijuana cigarettes. No, the latest threat to this Once Great Nation — according to the Quebec Conservative leader — is dragon queens indoctrinating your children.
In fairness, when Duhaime released a statement raising the alarm over “dragons queens” story hour yesterday, I think he meant to type “drag queen” (although it would be terrifying to see a dragon in a sequin dress, burning down villages from the sky as Gloria Estefan’s Turn the Beat Around blares overhead).
But no, he’s referring to famous Quebec drag queen Barbada de Barbades reading stories to children. For those of you still blissfully unaware of this “controversy”, Barbades visits libraries in full regalia — purple wig and all — to encourage kids to read and accept differences in others. There is no sexual component to this and the children are accompanied by their parents, who say the kids think of Barbada as they would a superhero or Disney princess.
Some would argue that in Quebec — where roughly 53 per cent of adults are functionally illiterate — it’s good to get students excited about reading. And children who grow up learning tolerance are far less likely to become bullies.
Speaking of bullies, Duhaime’s almost-dead-in-the-water Conservative party has been running on fumes since last year’s election. No longer able to stoke anger about COVID-19 restrictions, the Conservatives are sinking in the polls and they raised a paltry $17,500 in the first quarter of 2023. Compared to last year — when the Conservatives had more individual donors than any other political party in Quebec — Duhaime’s movement is adrift.
Now, just as he did with vaccine skepticism, Duhaime is banking on manufactured outrage to get back in the fight.
The drag queen Barbada has been putting on these events for years with minimal controversy but that’s starting to change. Earlier this month, three protesters were arrested for disturbing the peace and Barbada’s appearance had to be moved after people swarmed a South Shore library meant to host it.
Perhaps seeing an opportunity to rally his base, Duhaime took to Twitter the following week, asking Quebecers to sign a petition against “exposing our children” to drag queens. This “petition” has no legal bearing and it isn’t on the National Assembly’s website. It’s merely a data harvesting tactic where you enter your name, email address and postal code so the Conservatives can target you for fundraising campaigns.