Irrespective of one`s ideology, left, right or center, every citizen in a democracy has the choice to play a role in his or her governance. Most opt out of doing anything; for several possible reasons, including ignorance and plain disinterest. I include ignorance because for anybody who has actually lived in, or visited non-democratic states, it becomes hard not to be grateful for living in a democracy and, by extension, undertaking the minimum commitments of civic responsibility.
A slim majority head to the ballot boxes every 4 years (much lower rates at the municipal level). Although that is the minimal commitment of any citizen, it is a vital one; I always vote even if it is only to destroy my ballot, since I am profoundly aware of how many people have given their lives so that I may vote.
And then, there is someone like M. Fernandez. He is driven by a passionate commitment to a social vision. He clearly feels that he must contribute as meaningfully as he can as a citizen. Not too surprisingly perhaps, he opted to become a politician. He gives his all for several years and now...he resigns from being a politician (however, not from politics in my opinion.) He has simply decided that he can do more to achieve his social vison outside of the formal political system.
This is not unusual; there are hundreds of thousands of activists around the world who have made the same choice. They prefer to attempt to influence form the outside rather than from the inside. They are not defined by ideology. The could easily decide to join the National Rifle Association as they might join METOO.
Why work from the outside rather than the inside? Mainly because of the freedom from constant compromise. Politics is `the art of the possible`. That means finding a denominator that can move society in one direction without totally alienating those who are in disagreement with that position. It is evolutionary, painstaking and demands enormous patience, stamina, diplomacy and strategic adeptness. Outside of the system, one can participate fully and passionately in advocating for your preferred social vision. As an activist your views can be expressed without nuance. At the same time, if you really want to move the political system forward you have to adopt some of the tactical skills of the politician.
If this system breaks down and if social activists have no role to play, then society risks moving towards authoritarianism of the left or right variety and the climate becomes more ripe for a revolutionary option. M. Fernandez will no doubt continue to be a social activist. That is his choice and it would appear to suit his personality. Good luck to him.
My concern is that we are entering an era where compromise is disappearing and where absolutism is increasing...across the political spectrum. Partisanship is solidifying; extremism is mounting; and the issues are increasingly global in nature and beyond legitimate governance structures. While the one body responsible for global governance, the UN, claims that we are heading for catastrophic climatic change, its own member states squabble among themselves, do everything they can to weaken or bypass the UN, and cling desperately to an irrelevant past.
So, I am not surprised at his choice. The city of Montreal, the government of Quebec or even the government of Canada are largely irrelevant institutions in the face of the global issues he is concerned about. But, he has more choices to make. As an activist now on the outside, does he put his efforts to influence action at the local level where he has visibility and access, or at the global level where the real decisions will be made? .