Monday, April 26, 2010

Does the Bloc Quebecois Want to Succeed or Fail?

The Bloc Quebecois presence in Ottawa has always been a paradoxical affair. The party arrived in Ottawa twenty years ago, boldly proclaiming that it's stay would be brief, just long enough to protect Quebec's interests until the inevitable declaration of independence, surely not more than a few years off.

Alas, it hasn't worked out that way. The Bloc has already spent the equivalent of half the term that the biblical Israelites spent wandering in the desert, but unlike the fleers of Pharaoh, another twenty years of aimless obscurity in the backwaters of Ottawa's opposition benches, holds no guarantee that a trip to the promised land will be forthcoming.

While Gilles Duceppe beseeches the Canadian Parliament and all who will listen, to let his people go, unlike the slaves of Egypt, Quebeckers hardly seem ready, willing or able to take the plunge.

Each passing year takes the Bloc Quebecois farther and farther from its goal, and the window of opportunity where sovereignty remains even a remote option is fading rapidly.

What looked so inevitable twenty years ago,  is only a dream today, one that only the most fervent of Quebec nationalists hold onto.

Over 70% of Quebeckers, now believe that sovereignty will never happen.

What changed?...
Well, over the last twenty years, a period which ironically corresponds with the Bloc's tenure in Ottawa, two ongoing trends have in fact changed the rules of the games.

The first is Quebec's headlong rush to match Canada's immigration policy whereby an exorbitant amount of new immigrants are brought into the country each year.  Without a matching effort, Quebec cannot maintain its demographic weight in Canada, but paradoxically, in doing so, the Province is diminishing its "Frenchness," as well as adding a disproportionate number of NO voters in any future referendum.

If ever there was a classic case of  'Catch-22,' this is it. Damned if you do, dammed if you don't.

Over the last twenty years Quebec has welcomed over one million new immigrants to the province, who understandably tend to be overwhelmingly federalist and NO voters. This represents a swing of five full percentage points towards the NO side in any potential future referendum. Within another five years it will take close to 65% of Francophone voters to vote YES, for a referendum to succeed. Not likely.

The second circumstance is Quebec's growing addiction to Federal transfer payments, particularly those famous Equalization payments which now run close to nine billion dollars and represents almost fifteen percent of the Quebec governments annual budget. Although the Bloc has tried vainly to portray this money as illusory, voters are not so keen to put this windfall on the line.  A fix is a fix...

As the prospect of sovereignty dims, where does it leave the Bloc Quebecois? At what point do they give up the fiction that Quebec will one day be sovereign?

Up till now, the Bloc has been following a policy of "FAIL," a deliberately cynical formula that holds that if the Bloc is unsuccessful in securing Quebec's 'fair share,' it will be perceived back home as justification that federalism doesn't work for the province.
And so the Bloc has been happily on the losing end of almost every single piece of legislation. Any proposals or amendments that the party puts forward is shot down faster than a preacher's call for temperance at a Canada Day party. It is, according to the masterplan.


But things are changing and this last week may actually represent a turning point. Stephen Harper is delivering a stern lesson in realpolitik to Quebec by putting forward legislation adding thirty seats to Parliament, all outside Quebec.

The Bloc has been militating fiercely to somehow avert the unmitigated disaster that it sees in having Quebec's Parliamentary weight reduced. The whole province is demanding that the Bloc do something concrete to forestall the law, but again their efforts are failing dismally.

This time the people are not going to give the Bloc a pass, the old mantra that says Quebec must separate to safeguard it's future doesn't wash, because the sovereignty option is no longer viable and everybody knows it.
This time the Bloc may not be forgiven their failure. Critics have humorously mocked Gilles Duceppe's position that Quebec's weight in Parliament be maintained by pointing out that the Bloc's ultimate goal is to actually have no seats in the federal Parliament.

With no prospect of sovereignty in the future and no ability to defend Quebec's interests in Ottawa, just what is the point of the Bloc Quebecois? People are starting to ask.

There is a dawning realization by some, that if Quebec would have had another half dozen ministers in cabinet, this law would never have been enacted. With few seats to lose in Quebec and none to gain, Harper is free to seek support elsewhere. Politics is a game of leverage and Quebec has none.

Even for Quebec nationalists, the very raison d'etre of the Bloc Quebecois needs to be seriously re-evaluated. Continuing the policy of 'fail'  just means that Quebec gets less representation and influence.

Without the very real threat of sovereignty hanging over Ottawa, the Bloc is impotent and
Canadians don't care.

Gilles Duceppe learned this valuable lesson on his trans-Canada trip, one that played to empty halls.

Anglos see the Bloc as irrelevant, not even worthy of a conversation. It is sad and humiliating.

Perhaps it's time for the Bloc to admit they are a problem and not a solution and that the interests of Quebec can best be served if they just packed it in.


  1. Most of us can only dream to have a job like Duceppe's, where you can hold a position in a company for 22 years were none of your business goals were ever met.Even with the change of the number of seats in Parliament, I am sure that most Lemmings that vote for the Bloc will manage to keep them employed, when they are told that the Canadian Army will invade Quebec, and once again we will drag on this Language issue.

  2. "Gilles Duceppe learned this valuable lesson on his trans-Canada trip, one that played to empty halls."

    What happened to that? I hardly heard any news about this trip. It must have been a complete failure.


  4. "FAIL=WIN"

    Actually it's more of a win-win situation for the Bloc or else put, damn if you do, damn if you don't.

    If they win their case, they are going to come back to Quebec and claim victory and that they won this for Quebec and if they don't, it will be another proof that federalism doesn't work for Quebec (whereas it seems to work well with other provinces, jeez, I wonder why).

  5. That the Bloc has managed to survive this long says much about the French Quebecer mindset, or lack thereof. It's hillilly politics and swinish rural propaganda to ellicit votes out of a purposely marginalized and linguistically ill-equipped population that has learned to fear anything it can't see in a mirror. Life under 101 is like being behind Canada's very own iron curtain that's held tightly shut by past and present cretins and political trolls like Levesque, Parizeau, Duceppe and the rest of their Vichy ilk. Living here makes me want to heave sometimes, right onto someones fleur de lis.

  6. A better name for Quebec's iron curtain is the "poutine curtain."

  7. The federal government has dissolved the Quebec people and elected a new one. On the other hand, Quebec voted for the Liberals for so many years and they were the most responsible for it.....

  8. Immigrants are used as a demographic weapon against the Francophone majority. The Francophones aren't won over to federalism, they are simply replaced. Kind of pathetic, even immoral, perhaps.

  9. Boy-oh-boy-oh-boy, are you all totally missing the mark! Here's a suggestion: Go to YouTube, look at anything former pro wrestler-turned-mayor-turned-Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura said with respect to a book he wrote called "Don't Start the Revolution without Me!" One choice Ventura feels should be on a ballot is "None of the above", i.e., a voter's right to not vote for any candidate on a ballot.

    Since no politicians want to implement this idea, the words "Bloc Québécois" have seemed to wiggle their way in as the replacement. It's obvious voters who vote "Bloc Québécois" are not happy with any of the other choices; worse yet, those MPs are having the time of their lives. They are obvious political s--t disturbers who willfully want to wreak havoc on the federal system unless their agenda is addressed and fulfilled.

    Sadly, this is one of the downfalls of democracy. The only abuse of democracy that was worse than this, FAR worse, was when the German Nazi Party was elected legally to power. They DID get the majority of the vote, and the rest is history. The BQ is not anywhere nearly as bad as that prior abuse about 80 years ago, but a counterproductive government costs us all! Minority governments tend to be counterproductive, and we have now had three in a row with no relief in sight.

    Finally, Duceppe and his minions are absolutely RELISHING all this! Think of it: All they have to do is tell Québécois pur laine exactly what they want to hear. Their full agenda will NEVER be implemented as they'll NEVER form the majority, unless we splinter into 7-8 viable political parties, and even then, not likely. They can sit there and bash the Tories, Grits and NDP when they say things to BQ or nationalist leaning Quebecers don't like to hear. What fun! Worse yet, they're very well-paid to do this and they have NO incentive whatsoever to quit. If they've served a minimum of six consecutive years, they get a pension starting the day they leave, whether they quit or are defeated in an election. At 15 years, they're entitled to full pension based on their best earning years. Too, the governing party often gives defeated MPs, AT OUR EXPENSE, a lump sum for severence to readjust to civilian life. Oh, and never mind the travel allowances, free Via Rail passes, etc. etc. etc. I think I'll start a something-for-nothing party and clean up myself!

  10. what did anonymous say wait i dont care