Friday, April 2, 2010

Harper Deals Quebec Another Devastating Blow

This week Prime Minister Harper delivered another painful dose of payback to Gilles Duceppe, Jean Charest and the people of Quebec, a harsh lesson in realpolitik for their betrayal of the Conservatives at the polls in the last federal election, as well as for the humiliation Mr. Charest inflicted upon Mr. Harper during the run up to the Quebec provincial election and for his theatrics and grandstanding, at Ottawa's expense, in Copenhagen.

Ever since the creation of the Bloc Quebecois, twenty years ago, Quebeckers have tantalized both the federal Liberal and Conservative parties with promises of electoral support in exchange for preferential treatment and political indulgence.
The strategy worked quite well, highlighted by the last coup, pulled off by Premier Charest in 2007 wherein he wrested a $2.3 billion federal equalization and transfer payment top-up, from Prime Minister Harper, in the run up to the provincial election. Mr. Charest cynically used $700 million of the money to give Quebec voters a tax break, thus contributing to his re-election, but at the expense of humiliating the Prime Minister. LINK

Based on that largess, Mr. Harper hoped for the quid pro quo of a Quebec bounce in the next federal election, one that would have given him a majority, but after a gaffe over his cancellation of a small subsidy to the artistic community, the Quebec electorate voted solidly for the Bloc, once again.

Mr. Harper, utterly frustrated by the betrayal, decided to write off Quebec for good and rule with a minority, while seeking a majority, outside the borders of  Quebec.

The game which the province had been playing for decades, that of a reluctant girlfriend, always promising to put out on the next date, while demanding gifts from an eager and gullible suitor, was over. Mr Harper had figured out that despite the flowers and chocolates, there'd be no nookie for him in Quebec.

Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Charest, may not have realized it yet, but the jig is up.

Mr. Harper now listens to Quebec's demands with a deaf ear. He's decided to expend his political capital (and dough) elsewhere and so Quebec is truly left sucking wind.
Ironically the Bloc Quebecois has been 'crying wolf' for so many years, now that Quebec is getting a bum deal, nobody's listening to the legitimate complaints.

Mr. Harper hasn't even tried to hide or couch his actions, his disdain for Quebec is a signal to his traditional base in the West.

The first major indication in his shift in policy was the stimulus package, which saw Ontario and B.C. get the lion's share of the money, while Quebec's devastated forestry industry received peanuts.

Last week the federal government told Mr. Charest, in a letter forwarded (and leaked) just days before the Quebec finance minister was to present his budget, that the province wouldn't be receiving an expected $2.23 billion payment for having harmonized the GST and provincial tax. Quebec had been led to believe that a deal was done and were caught unaware that the money wouldn't be forthcoming. It was a humiliating signal by Harper that 'two can tango' and the miscalculation by Quebec of Ottawa's intention, left a big hole in the already prepared budget.

The snub was particularly painful because both Ontario and British Columbia had already successfully negotiated their inducements to take on the tax harmonization project.  Quebec had harmonized their system years ago and after seeing that payments were given to others, went cap in hand to Ottawa demanding the same treatment. Thomas Mulcair, a Quebec NDP member accused the Harper government of  double-crossing Quebec(with some justification.)

The latest slap in the face by Mr. Harper towards Quebec, is the legislation adding 30 new seats in Parliament, none of which are to be allocated to Quebec, notwithstanding that this action is wholly justified as Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have been seriously underrepresented demographically in Parliament. In fact, of all the western nations, Canada has one of the most unfair electoral maps and this legislation will redress the issue of voter equality.

Of course the effect of this is to reduce Quebec's influence (and that of the Bloc Quebecois) in Parliament, something both the Conservatives and the Liberals are pleased with. The seats in question are pretty much up for grabs between the two main parties, so you won't hear a peep from the Liberals when it comes to opposing the bill.

Perhaps now, Quebec will finally understand, that had the province wielded more influence in cabinet, it might have  averted the catastrophe. The devastating effect of the legislation is that a majority government no longer necessarily runs through Quebec.

Mr. Duceppe is already promising that he and his party will defend 'the honour' of Quebec by opposing the legislation vigorously and like before, his huffing and puffing is an exercise in futility.
He has announced that he is setting off on a cross-country tour to assess the future of sovereignty,  an effort to deflect attention from the ongoing calamity in Ottawa.

I can save him the time and frequent flier points by assuring him that at the conclusion, he'll determine that the sovereignty movement is in great shape, that Canadians are unwillingly to satisfy Quebec and that sovereignty is not only necessary but inevitable.

Perhaps he can be successful from shielding Quebeckers from the truth, that their rejection of the main stream federal parties has left the province isolated and unrepresented in the halls of power.

The decision by Quebeckers to thumb their nose at Ottawa is coming home to roost.

Next on the Mr. Harper's agenda - reduced equalization payments. Just wait....



  1. I have a lot of views on this matter. First increasing the number of seats in Ontario, Alberta and B.C. is inevitable AND completely democratic. If Quebec doesn't like it, too bad. You don't get an extra vote because you are French. You didn't half say it that Canada has one of the most undemocratic systems in the west. Look at how P.E.I. has FOUR seats with just 133,000 people. This is absurd. Look at the number of senators the Atlantic provinces have compared to the west; - equally absurd (even if we ignore the fact this body is unelected). But here we come full circle. WHY is Ontario, Alberta and B.C's population so fast growing? IMMIGRATION! Who was so overwhelmingly responsible for so much, and so rapid and so non-European immigration to Canada? The LIBERALS (especially under Trudeau). Now WHO did the Quebecois so ZEALOUSLY support for so long? You guessed it, the Liberals. So connect the dots. Quebec unwittingly played a key role in undermining its own demographic and political position in Canada by its blind Pavlovian support of the Liberals. Look how Quebec saved Trudeau's ass in 1972. They gave him 56 of his 109 seats and allowed him to hang on as a minority leader. But that was in a 265 seat parliament. No way would that happen in a 338 seat house. And what did Trudeau do? After "winning" his "victory" he opened the floodgates even more. That year saw a new record high in immigration even with a poor economy. So events have come full circle for Quebec. It supported a party that supported immigration and has now found itself cut off at the knees. Immigration has ALWAYS worked against French-Canada's / Quebec's best interests as it increases the (eventual) number of English-speakers in Canada. Francophones had only their high birthrates to counter this and that is now gone for good. Thus politically Quebec SHOULD have supported as little immigration as possible. But it did the exact opposite by supporting the Liberals.

  2. Les bloquistes clameront une fois de plus belle "l'urgence" de se séparer en se justifiant sur la baisse de l'influence politique du Québec au sein du Canada.

    N'est-ce pas ce qu'ils veulent après tout...

  3. "Perhaps he can be successful from shielding Quebeckers from the truth, that their rejection of the main stream federal parties has left the province isolated and unrepresented in the halls of power."

    Even though there is bits and pieces of truth in that statement, if it was 100% the case, it would mean that the Bloc has accomplished its mission.

    However in many cases, the Bloc has just done the opposite meaning that the efforts of Bloc MPs has proven just the opposite: that indeed canadian federalism indeed works.

    Best regards and happy Easter,

    Tym Machine

  4. @anonymous,

    " Look at how P.E.I. has FOUR seats with just 133,000 people."

    The first joke with PEI to start with is how come this tiny island has a provincial status in Canada with all the largesses it implies. Unbelievable isn't it?

  5. There is a very interesting article by Ian L. MACDONALD on 18 May 2007 in The Gazette.

    It is titled:

    Bloc had chance to guarantee Quebec seats, but blew it

    You can find it on

    Highly recommended. I'm sorry but I don't know how to set up a link. Basically Quebec COULD have gotten TEN new seats out of this but threw away the opportunity.

  6. Will someone please tell me, as an ex-Quebecer, having survived the 1970's FLQ bullshit, and escaping that cesspool of racism, bigotry and hatred, to the haven of tolerance and common sense of western Canada, what I can do to help speed up the separation of Quebec from Canada? I would be willing to let you go without you taking your share of the national debt. (paying your bus ticket)

  7. Hey, April 29th: NO WAY! Myself having been born, raised and educated in Quebec, I share your sentiments re the Quebec racist cesspool 100%, but Quebec WILL pay its own damn bus ticket, thank you very much!

    We have paid, and still pay more than enough bus fare for their sake now, but hopefully this blog is accurate, Harper and the rest of us have bent over backwards enough for Quebec, and the breaking point is coming fast! REAL FAST!