Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stephen Harper Set to Deliver Another Painful Dose of Payback to Quebec

If Quebeckers thought that by sending separatist Bloc Quebecois members to Ottawa they would send a message to English Canada, they were right.

The message has finally been received loud and clear, albeit after many years.

No matter how accommodating, no matter how much money Ottawa ships to Quebec, no matter how many political concessions are made, Quebeckers will continue to thumb their noses at federalist parties.

It's a lesson that took both the Liberals and the Conservatives many years to comprehend, but the penny has finally dropped, at least on the Conservative side. Mr. Harper and the Conservative party have written off Quebec politically.

If ever there was a case of overplaying one's hand, this is it.

Ironically, Quebeckers remain blithely unaware that their flirtatious game is over.

While they continue to pull on the same old strings, Mr. Harper and the Conservatives have gone off in another direction.

In many ways Quebec's rejection of the Federal political parties in favour of the Bloc has set Mr. Harper free. No longer does he, nor his party harbour any illusions that indulging Quebec can translate into seats and so, he has been liberated to return to his natural base, a constituency that is decidedly anti-Quebec.

I recently wrote a post about Mr. Harper's plan to add seats in Parliament a move aimed to correct an imbalance and reflect the changing demographics of the Canadian reality. The seats to be added are all located outside of Quebec.

Should the proposed legislation go through, Quebec's proportion of seats in the Canadian Parliament will be reduced and the likelihood of forming a majority government without Quebec support, enhanced.

This proposal was met with expected fury in Quebec, but the threats of reprisals by Quebec voters rang hollow, there's not much to lose for the Conservatives in Quebec. Had Mr. Harper owned twenty or thirty seats in the province, he'd never have entertained such a move.

It is ironic that While the Bloc claims to defend Quebec's interest in Ottawa, it's presence has the opposite effect and serves to rob Quebec of any influence. Bloc members sit idly in opposition, twiddling their thumbs and hurling insults at the government.

Most Quebeckers would be shocked to see how little effect the Bloc really has in Ottawa. The high attrition rate of Bloc members is a testament to how they themselves view their effectiveness. The reality is that they are pointedly ignored by the other members of Parliaments. Some western MPs even pull out their translation ear piece when Bloc members rise in the house.

The announcement by the Tories that they will be seeking an opinion from the Supreme Court as to whether the formation of a national agency to regulate financial markets under Ottawa's auspices is legal, is but another signal that they no longer care what Quebec thinks.

If the court sides with the government, something likely to happen according to constitutional lawyers, it would spell another humiliating defeat for Quebec.

Quebec finance Minister Raymond Bachand was apoplectic in a speech delivered at an event organized by the AMF, Quebec's regulatory agency.
"The federal government has no right to legislate in this area that is under the jurisdiction of the province of Quebec!"
Without any strong voices in cabinet and without the weight of Parliamentary seats, Quebec is powerless to stop the assault on what the province perceives as an invasion on provincial rights.

How will the Quebec public react to this real loss of influence?

By voting for the Bloc Quebecois, of course. It is after all, Quebec.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder what would have happened if the bloc had been around in Trudeau's day? He benefitted from the Quebec Francophone tribal vote more then any politician in Canadian history. Look at the 1972 election as an example. ONLY QUEBEC SAVED him from getting his ass handed to him. As to the increase in the seats in the house of commons this is happening because the REST OF CANADA OUTSIDE QUEBEC is experiencing very rapid population growth from third world immigration. Trudeau - who Quebec so zealously supported - played a key, indeed critical, role in causing this. Thus the Franco-Quebecers themselves played a key role in supporting the very man who so undermined their own position in Canada.