Wikipedia describes the anecdote wherein a frog placed in a pot of boiling water, will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used to describe the inability of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually.
I can't think of a more apt metaphor to describe Quebec's deteriorating situation as a powerful and distinctive partner in the Canadian federation.
Historians may very well point to the failed referendum of 1995 and the subsequent rise of the Bloc Quebec as the turning point where the Province of Quebec and Francophone influence began its precipitous spiral downward as a political force in Canada.
Until then, Quebec had maintained it's position in the political driver's seat by voting federally as a group for one of the two main parties, thus controlling whether the Conservatives or the Liberal ruled Canada. Because Canadian voters split the vote rather evenly between Liberal Ontario and the Conservative western provinces, Quebec was in the envious position of deciding which party would rule Canada. This pattern repeated itself with Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien and Martin, who all owed their final political success to Quebec. In repayment, all these Prime Ministers duly rewarded Quebec with strong representation in the cabinet, where the province's interests were jealously protected.
When the Bloc Quebecois took over this voting bloc, Quebec was left unrepresented in the halls of power. Although both the Liberals and the Conservatives, in search of a majority, tried for many years to win back Quebec voters, making all sorts of promises and delivering all sorts of goodies, it was not to be.
Quebeckers foolishly overplayed their hand and embraced the adopted role of the spoilt child who refused to eat dinner.
Quebeckers have finally convinced Stephen Harper that Quebec is a dead end, a place where governments go to die, not to find majorities. Coldly turning his back on the Province, Harper is slowly and deliberately setting out to take Quebec out of the Canada equation and like the oblivious frog in the pot of cold water, the heat is being turning up.
As the Bloc merrily spins the illusion that tells Quebeckers that the province's interests are being looked after, nothing could be farther from the truth. The dangerous lie is literally killing the political interests of Quebec. Perhaps that is exactly what the Bloc Quebecois wants.
One only has to look at the anti-Quebec climate that reigns in the Conservative government where already established policies that are crippling Quebec are maintained and where new legislation seeks to reward others and weaken Quebec is the order of the day.
The opinions of Quebeckers and it's leader is now being roundly ignored and in some cases being outright mocked by Harper and his minions. On issues like the environment, the oil sands, energy efficiency and climate change, where Quebec is diametrically opposed to Conservative polices, the Prime Minister seems to gloat in his ability to humiliate Premier Charest as payback for past slights.
Although not a Harper initiated policy, the political dividends of maintaining a policy of mass immigration is not lost on the Conservatives. Each year Quebec's demographic situation deteriorates, especially the French fact. Another twenty years or so, Francophones will represent less than 20% of Canada's population, a benchmark that precludes any talk of 'two nations.'
Mr. Harper's proposed law, Bill C-12, to add 30 seats to Parliament, all outside Quebec is the clearest signal that he is bent on taking Quebec down. The proposition that Parliament become truly 'representative' means that Quebec will lose even more in the future, forever burying the concept that Quebec should maintain 25% of the seats regardless of the demographic reality for the sake of the "two nations" concept.
NO SOUP FOR YOU! QUEBEC
The stimulus package created in 2009 to combat the recession, clearly bypassed Quebec, with the bulk of the money going to Ontario and British Columbia. While Quebec screamed that its damaged wood industry needed help too, Ottawa politely demurred. Immediately before Quebec deposited it's 2010 budget, the province
found out it wouldn't be receiving an expected $2.23 billion payment for having
GST and provincial tax, another slap in the face. LINK
NATIONAL REGULATORY AGENCY FOR STOCK MARKETS
The creation of a national regulatory agency to regulate the financial stock markets is another direct threat to Quebec power and authority. Although Ottawa has told Quebec that it doesn't have to join, the effect would be devastating to be left out. If pension and mutual funds made it mandatory for companies included in their portfolios to be regulated federally, it would signal the de facto end of the AMF, Quebec's regulatory body.
NO MORE PORK
Quebec had always expected and received an unfair share of Federal pork projects. That is no more. Recently military maintenance contracts have all gone to companies out west. Quebec has it's nose up against the window pane looking in, while everyone else is eating.
BILINGUALISM IN THE SUPREME COURT
Harper is set to use his majority in the senate to deal another humiliating defeat to those calling for judges to be bilingual. While the other parties try to make political hay by forcing the issue and perhaps embarrassing the government, the Conservatives view it as an opportunity to tap into anti-Quebec feelings that are running at the highest historical levels ever across the country.
Equalization payments. Last year Quebec received over eight billion dollars from other provinces, a crucial part of the provinces operating budget. Already there is rumblings that the structure and the size of the program is to change.
Ironically, the only way Quebec can change its political fortunes is to vote massively for the Liberals or the Conservatives, something unlikely to happen. Getting its foot back in the door is the only way to reverse anti-Quebec policies, but it's unlikely to happen.
And so like the frog in the pot of water Quebeckers just don't realize that they will be cooked very soon.