Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sovereignists Freaked Out by 'Force Quebec'

The announcement last week by ex-Parti Quebecois bigwig, François Legault, that he may be starting a new political party in Quebec has sent shock waves through the political establishment. Link

Mr. Legault has quite rightly read the political mood of the province, which is dominated by a profound dislike of the Liberal government, coupled with abject disdain of the alternative, the Parti Quebecois.

As unpopular as Mr. Charest is, Pauline Marois is not generally perceived as a viable alternative and with personal polling numbers that are almost as bad as the Premier's, it's clear that both parties are ripe for the picking.

Mr. Legault is offering a 'third way,' (la troisième voie) a political dogma between sovereignty and federalism, a government which will remain nationalistic, but without threatening independence. How this will work is not clear, but it seems to be sounding a solid note with francophones who lost confidence in the Liberals, but are afraid of the Parti Quebecois.

While both the Liberals and the Parti Quebecois would be badly hurt by this new party in the short-term (next election), in the long run it is the Parti Quebecois which will be destroyed.

As I wrote in a column last week, the sovereignty option is fast fading and even nationalists are looking for an alternative that will protect Quebec's individuality without pushing an independence option, which they rightly perceive as unattainable.
It seems that voters, dumb as they are, are more realistic about the chances of independence than the Parti Quebecois, who at any rate, will never give up the sovereignty option.

Polls are showing that the new party would get more votes than the PQ or the Liberals and would likely form a minority government. In that case, it would be likely that the Liberals would support the government while they rebuild their brand, gearing up for an eventual two-way fight.

The bad news for separatists is that support for the new party is coming largely at their expense.
Voters willing to move their votes over to the new party are made up of 34% those presently supporting Quebec Solidaire and 29% of Parti Quebecois supporters. The Liberal bleed is less than half at 14%.

The re-alignment of the political stars means that in the future, we will likely see a federalist Liberal party battle a small-c conservative, Force Quebec, a party advocating a nationalistic policy without independence.

How freaked out are the sovereignists over the unfolding winds of change?


The furious reaction in the press by sovereignist stalwarts, forecasting the failure of Force Quebec, was a clear case of 'whistling past the graveyard,' but try as they did, they couldn't hide the fear.
" hypothesis is that the movement will probably not become a party." 
"Chances are that Legault and Facal are mainly positioning themselves in case Marois should falter."
"Putting the sovereignty question under the carpet is like pretending winter doesn't exist."
"Force Quebec will never see the light of day."
Just as the Parti Quebecois sent the Union Nationale party into political oblivion, the fear is real among sovereignists that this is the beginning of the end of the Parti Quebecois as a political force. Remember that two elections ago the party was relegated to third place behind the ADQ.

And so for the Pequistes and their supporters it's certainly time to fret....



In an insane asylum taken over by the inmates, it's no great dishonour to be rejected by the majority.

The only saving grace in Canada not getting a seat at the Security council is that we lost to Portugal.
We could have been rewarded with Iran, Libya or some other banana republic, which would no doubt be a more popular choice among the sad loser countries that make up the majority of the once august body.
There are those of us at home who will berate the government for it's principled polices that led us to be rejected by this merry band of fools.

Fair enough. Let's be thankful that we have that type of democracy where real free speech exists. How many countries that voted against can say the same?

In the spirit of celebrating that freedom, a shout out to the Canadian Arab Federation who helped torpedo the nomination by circulating an E-mail entitled. “Don’t Give Canada a Security Council Seat.” Well done!

I wonder what would happen, if an organization similar to the Canadian Arab Federation agitated in a similar fashion in any of the CAF's member's ancestral Arab homelands.

In an online comment written in reaction to a story about Canada's loss, a reader asked an intriguing hypothetical question;
Would an independent Quebec with Pauline Marois as its leader have voted for Canada? ..Dunno.....


  1. "And so for the Pequistes and their supporters it's certainly time to fret..."

    Let's wait and see how much of this movement is bluster, and how much of it is truly reflective zeitgeist. A "nationalist" party made up of many separatists (and federalists) who just won't deal with the unity issue? I'd like to see whether this reflects welcome maturity in our political landscape, or another insidious element in the doctrine of nationalist "étapisme". Staying tuned.

    "There are those of us at home who will berate the government for it's principled polices that led us to be rejected by this merry band of fools."

    Come on Editor, we lost to PORTUGAL *AND* GERMANY?!?!?! Don't tell me something didn't go horribly wrong somewhere.

    "In the spirit of celebrating that freedom, a shout out to the Canadian Arab Federation who helped torpedo the nomination by circulating an E-mail ..."

    [hitting head against wall repeatedly]

    "Would an independent Quebec with Pauline Marois as its leader have voted for Canada? ..Dunno....."

    Three hypotheticals in one sentence. And that's without even contemplating the effect that separation would have on Quebec-Canada foreign relations in general.

    But for schnicks and giggles, I'd imagine at least one of the following questions below would cross Pauline's mind, albeit in decreasing order of plausibility:

    1. Nowhere in the question was there any mention of what if any incentives/benefits Quebec could expect in return. How much foreign capital is Canada ready to fork over for our support?
    2. Which way is France voting?
    3. Is there a Francophonie consensus?
    4. What would Ségolène Royal do?
    5. Is a cultural exchange program with Portugal possible?
    6. Is there a veto?
    7. Why isn't Quebec in the running? Set up by Ottawa again! À la prochaine fois!
    8. How transparent is the bidding... er... selection process? In what way might it be biased against Quebec?
    9. Note to self: open an embassy in Portugal and Germany ASAP.
    10. Recall our U.N. representative in protest in case the vote doesn't go the way we wanted.

  2. Is there any reason why the Anglophones in Quebec can't also start up a new political party? The Toronto guy.

  3. My gut feeling is that Force Quebec will fizzle. It cannot exist as a viable right-wing alternative.

    Conservatism is alien to the Quebec mentality. Even the people who are deemed conservative aren't terribly conservative.

  4. If "Force Quebec" gets going, I think it'll be a short term thing. It's one thing to tap into the general discontent of voters. Another thing to have a policy that voters can identify with.

    Just look at the ADQ. Nationalist and small c conservative. That party is a mess. Especially when it can't even stand up to the Bombardier metro contract. They gave in with the other three moronic parties. Can a party with a fiscal conservative policy succeed in Quebec. Of course it can. But, it must maintain that course. And not cave in to buying a few votes.

    I think a Libertarian party in Quebec may succeed though. There is a very high level of government in peoples lives. And getting the provincial bureaucrats out of our lives may just touch the nerve that needs to be touched.

  5. Apparatchik --> I love the top 10 list!!!! LOL

    "Toronto guy" There are two reasons Anglophones in Quebec can't start up a new political party;

    1. Anglophones and Alophones make up a small minority of the population which are all pretty much concentrated in Montreal. Even if everyone voted teh same way this "Anglo" party would always be a small minority.

    2. No one else in the province would ever vote for this party cuz you need to have a french name to be elected or (more importantly) given any real authority.

    Personally, I would vote for Passe-Partout if I thought they would use my money on hospitals & roads.

  6. @Jason: thanks!

    To add to Jason's comment, an anglo party will only serve to divide and dilute the voice of anglos in Quebec even more. It might help get rid of us faster (somehow), which I'm sure is what you'd like. But it would obliterate the already paltry number of possible anglo ministers and others involved in the decision-making process.

    It would also be ludicrous (not to mention radically inconsistent) for me to keep lambasting Bloc voters for squandering Quebec's (and francophones') demographic weight in Ottawa (rather than vote for a real federal party) and then justify an anglo-only splinter group (Equality Party? dotcom startup? peanut gallery?) in the National Assembly. See my post in French yesterday. This is especially key in light of the fact that my underlying argument for national unity is largely one of good bi/multicultural integration and of both pragmatic and philosophical consistency.

    Assuming for a minute that you didn't advocate smaller parties based around a small number of hot-button themes in a sinister divide-and-conquer ploy to see us go, your idea might go pretty far if Canadian political culture made some room for a tradition of coalition governments, as is the case in many European countries.

    But the transient nature of politics can also lead to a coalition being even more unstable than a minority governments. Coalitions have a funny way of breaking down before anyone really wants to schedule an election. Or, much like the situation we've got in Ottawa right now (a pseudo-coalition that dares not speak its name), the party with the second-most clout can't or won't defeat the government for one or more reasons. Also, coalition-building (in whatever form) can also involve some very dirty dealing which seldom contributes to or benefits all citizens.

    I strongly agree with the abstract principle that a parliament should be made up of members that best represent their constituents. Democracy being essentially a strength-in-numbers exercise, it follows that these members would coalesce into groups to get things done as they saw fit. But cooperation and consensus also governs relationships. The question now is, do these members really get things done better when each member is literally an otherwise non-committal "party of one", or when the umbrella group articulates a (semi-)consistent doctrine and commits to it until at least the next election cycle?

    Also, how do you propose that we introduce coalitions as a mainstream notion into Canadian political culture but not be stuck with the stability issues (or influence wars) inherent in any coalition?

    Looking forward to what I'm sure are careful ideas that I might be missing.

  7. So...we finally see the true face of Richard LeHir. He was the ex-PQ minister in the Angryphone documentary explaining how the PQ government in 1995 attempted to manipulate the public into voting OUI, and now he's siding with the hardline separatists.....sigh...

    I might be wrong and maybe it's just an opinion, and I hope this is the case. Does anyone know if LeHir and still a separatist?

  8. "Does anyone know if LeHir and still a separatist?"

    He gives to an awful lot, both financially

    ...and as a contributor

    Glean from that what you will.

    In case you're keeping score, Guy Bertrand, the lawyer who embraced the federalist cause by taking the Quebec government to court following the 1995 referendum, is a separatist (again). True story []!

  9. Anglos and Allophones make up about 20% of Quebec's population. They could hold a number of seats. It is better then wasting your vote for the Liberals in my view. Italy's German-speakers and Finland's Swedes are represented at all levels of government by their own parties. The Toronto guy.

  10. Unless there is a minority government situation and pro English speaker party wins more then 10 seats it would be pointless.

    I always wondered if somehow an organization could be formed in the other provinces to convince the provincial governments to allow a 6 month resettlement period while still getting paid a welfare check, so that English Speaking recipients can settle (with encouragement) into Quebec and get a piece of the generous welfare doles of quebec. After all the other provinces are getting screwed through equalization anyway. Might as well send their costs to quebec. This way the English public schools can be refilled and restaffed, as well as a whole bunch of other Quebec government funded agencies would have to get created, which would need at least some english speakers to get hired and help some English speakers be able stay in quebec. It would create a whole bunch of secondary industries catering to English speakers job needs, in the province of quebec.

    I do admire the English speakers tenacity to stay in quebec, despite all the discrimination. English speakers survived and maintained their space. Even expanding to in small steps.

    dada r baap

  11. "Putting the sovereignty question under the carpet is like pretending winter doesn't exist." -Richard Martineau-journal de Montreal

    I'm not sure about Legault or LeHir, but Martineau is definitely one of these pseudo-federalists/nationalist-federalists/pretend-separatists waiting for Ottawa to give him a "better" deal. He probably cares little about the "Quebec nation", but knows that "separation" makes for a big bargaining chip, a big ace up Quebec's sleeve. So this is probably why he doesn't want it swept under the carpet.