Ostensibly, the Bloc was created to protect Quebec's interests in Ottawa, but should that have been the case, they'd have been tossed out years ago for non-performance. After almost two decades in Parliament, the Bloc would be hard pressed to describe one single notable achievement. The fact that the Bloc was largely snubbed and ignored by the ruling government of the day, even in times of a minority government, remains an open secret, one which was largely ignored in Quebec.
In truth, the Bloc's ineffectiveness didn't really matter, it's real function was to remain a thorn in the side of Canadian federalism, a symbol that Quebec aspirations remained unrealized. In that respect nobody can deny that the party fulfilled its function rather well, annoying the heck out of the ROC and causing paralysis in Parliament.
And so the Quebec public and more importantly the French press, filled with zero expectations, have given Gilles Duceppe and his party, a twenty year free ride.
This last election signalled that the mood of the province had shifted rather suddenly and dramatically. The Francophone electorate, for whatever reason, decided to seek a new path.
Perhaps voters tired of the separatist debate or perhaps they believed that tangible results were more important than remaining the pouting child of the Canadian federation. At any rate, voters went for a change and that change was the NDP and the pie-in-the-sky promises of Jack Layton and his political henchman, Thomas Mulcair.
But the mandate to represent Quebec's interests in Ottawa and the challenge to keep the electorate satisfied, will be a task much more difficult for Mr. Layton than it was for Gilles Duceppe, as the extended free pass afforded to the Bloc, will not be offered to the Ndp.
Unlike the Bloc who were expected to produce nothing, expectations are running high for the Ndp, who themselves built up hopes by making a multitude of unrealizable promises.
Perhaps wiser than Mr. Layton, Mr. Duceppe never made any such promises at all, other than to offer the old chestnut, of "Protecting Quebec interests'
Mr Layton, as per his usual election style, made these promises, secure in the knowledge that he'd never have to deliver. Now as opposition leader he is faced with the impossible task of making good on his undertakings.
The three major planks that he offered Quebec, application of Bill 101 to presently-exempt federally chartered institutions in Quebec, mandatory bilingualism for Supreme Court judges and the re-opening of the constitutional debate, have as much chance of flying as pigs do.
Mr. Layton has written political cheques to Quebec that are going to bounce.
When it happens, it won't be pretty.
While the Ndp is enjoying a honeymoon with Quebeckers, it is likely to be short-lived. In fact, it may already be unravelling.
The Press has already crucified the absentee, inexperienced, non-French-speaking element of the Ndp Quebec caucus. Ruth Ellen Brouseau, the poster-girl for these unlikely members has already achieved more negative publicity than an opposition back-bencher can expect in an entire Parliamentary session.
In fact, the Bloc-voting, sovereignist-dominated Press is so enraged by the Ndp success at the polls, they have openly mocked the choice that electors made and have gone so far as to characterize the many Quebeckers who voted for the Ndp as naive and stupid.
And so, perceived by the 'intelligentsia' as illegitimate carpetbaggers, the Ndp is in for a very rough ride.
If you think that the Quebec Press has a hate-on for Harper, watch what is going to happen to Layton when he fails to deliver on his promises.
Hoping for failure, the Press waits impatiently to pounce. Gleefully sharpening their knives, their mouths are salivating with cruel anticipation at the fine meal the 'Dippers' will make once the inevitable futility and impotence of opposition is realized.
When the ultimate comedown happens, it will brutal.
Twelve to eighteen months-tops....