Friday, June 10, 2011

To Survive, PQ Must Abandon Sovereignty

Recent political events in Quebec have been compared to a 'Tsunami,' with the Bloc Quebecois being suddenly and violently swept away with little or no warning in the federal election of May 2, when they were caught unawares, by a massive and unexpected Ndp wave.

But until the recent past, a Tsunami was described in the West as a 'rogue wave,'  something quite unexpected and deadly, but strangely out of place and in this respect the description bears little resemblance to what  is happening politically to sovereignty movement.

I much prefer the comparison to that of an earthquake that explodes after years of pressure building up between two opposing tectonic plates butting up against each other and moving in diametrically opposite directions.

The recent resignation of four hard-line members of the PQ signals that the two factions, the hard-liners and the pragmatists in the party can no longer peacefully co-exist and after years of building pressure, the fault-line finally exploded in a rupture that has cleaved the party rather dramatically.

It's not a complicated issue, three of the hardliners that left the party are all pushing 70 years old and are old-line separatists, creations of the 1960's. To them fighting the good fight for sovereignty is worth the inevitable pain of defeat. To them the more pragmatic and realistic approach adopted by the PQ since the 1995 referendum defeat, where promises of a  new referendum has been conveniently put off until those mythical 'winning conditions' appear, is a policy akin to waiting for the Rapture.

The PQ finds itself in a difficult spot, Madame Marois has continued this policy of promising a referendum when conditions improve, knowing full well that they won't, but it is this promise that has come to be the Achilles heal of the party facing an electorate which has clearly rejected the idea of another referendum. In fact just the talk of a potential referendum is enough to drive voters elsewhere as the new political reality of Quebec manifests.

After fighting for sovereignty for 40 years Quebeckers are tired. Unless you're a fanatic, it's hard to be on the losing side for so many years and for most, enough is enough.
Over these last forty years conditions have changed so dramatically in Quebec that that many come to question the basic raison d'etre of the movement.
Quebec has moved from a bilingual province, to a unilingual society in full control of the levers of power, be that industry or government and as the province has realized it most basic goals and addressed the most pressing linguistic issue to the satisfaction of the majority, attraction of sovereignty has faded.

A recent poll confirmed the direction of Quebec voters with just 26% supporting the PQ, one point behind the sad-sack  Liberals. What is patently apparent is that should Francois Legault launch his new party he would sweep into power and a Montreal newspaper reported yesterday that he is ready to launch this fall. It seems that his description of the new party's philosophy- nationalist, not sovereignist, is striking the right cord with voters who want Quebec to remain fiercely independent, but don't want any talk of referendums or sovereignty.
A bit of a paradox, but then again so is Quebec.

Interestingly, it doesn't mean that support for sovereignty has taken a dramatic plunge, it just means that many sovereignists have come to realize that the numbers aren't there to win and to continue the fight would be an exercise in self flagellation.

Now that the sovereignist hardliners have left the party, Pauline should actually breathe a sigh of relief. What remains are young pragmatists that yearn for power as much as they do sovereignty. The majority of those left are relatively young have never been in power. For them, a strategic backing away from the referendum option, in favour of actually becoming the government is something they are quite willing to trade off.

Sure Pauline, sure! ( )
And so it befalls Pauline and the PQ to put the referendum business firmly on hold.
In order to claim political power the PQ must unambiguously tell the population that there will be no referendum, at least in the first mandate of a new PQ government.
Of course certain hard-liner will flee to the Quebec solidaire party, but not enough to make a difference.

82% of Quebeckers have indicated that they don't want a referendum, including 71% of the PQ constituency, who according to pollsters are looking for a party that can provide 'good government.'

With the departures of the radicals, Pauline Marois has been handed a unexpected gift, an opportunity to move the PQ towards legitimate power.
All she has to do is to swallow hard and announce a referendum freeze.
The party will accept it and more importantly the public will buy into it.

Does Pauline have the strength to give up on sovereignty?

Readers, can this PQ leopard actually change its spots?


  1. Hi Editor,

    I think an explanation is needed. What does this sentence mean?

    "...voters who want Quebec to remain fiercely independent, but don't want any talk of referendums or sovereignty."

    How can Quebec be independent without being sovereign? The only model I can think is like Hong Kong or Macau. Thus, we can have Quebec, SAR. But then, for the federal government, other provincial governments and Canadian population outside Quebec, what is in it for them to grant Quebec that special status?

  2. You mean that Quebec will never separate? What's going on with Quebeckers? Why don't you people no longer want to separate? Canada cannot be united with a distinct province being in the portrait. Quebec separation is required for the well being of Canadians and for a stronger Canada.

  3. Editor, a leopard cannot change its spots, but most animals, to a degree, can be conditioned. Remember Pavlov and his salivating dogs.

    Queen Pauline just has to remain fanatical about language, tow the line of Québec d'abord (Quebec first) à la Maurice Duplessis and his Union Nationale, let the people know separation will certainly remain on the back burner as opposed to the forefront, and she may be OK.

    Like the ocean, the tide comes in and the tide ebbs. The ebbing has just been longer than usual this time.

  4. "the new party's philosophy- nationalist, not sovereignist"

    Translation - Ignorantly racist as Petty Quebec
    party but not treasonous.

    It's like asking someone to choose between a
    POS and a POC (they both stink).

    "according to pollsters are looking for a party that can provide 'good government.'"

    It's about time!.


  5. "Good government"? Lévesque promised "good government". What government wins elections promising "bad government"?

    Non-nutritional beverages like soda and beer sell on being refreshing and associated with parties and other assorted enjoyable social gatherings, not the fact they are 98% sugar or malt and water. If Coke was marketed as a sugar and caffeine-loaded beverage by a monotone like Ben Stein, do you think they'd sell another bottle of Coke?

    Every government, in a democracy anyway, promises "good government"! To do otherwise is political suicide!

  6. One thing I have to say about Marois - her English has improved greatly. Only a few years ago her English was the butt of many jokes, but these days she has no hang ups about taking questions in English and she answers them with relative ease. Away from the spotlight, she must have devoted a considerable amount of time to studying and practicing English in the last couple of years.

  7. Well, from my perspective there are those who were hard separatists and actually believed in their cause. For other's more astute, the have used separation as blackmail with the fed's (Charest and Bourassa for instance) playing the good cop bad cop scenariou to extract more concessions from the ROC. Brian Crowley in his book "Fearful Symmetry" makes a good case for the blackmail as does former Quebec MNA Reed Scowen in his book "Its time to say Goodbye". I believe both of these authors are correct in their assumptions. Gilles Duceppe was openly a separatist but I wonder many times at the end of the day if he really was or again, was using separation as a red herring to obtain concessions from Ottawa. (you better give us what we want or we will separate).

    Crowley goes on further to indicate that Ottawa was sucked into a bidding war against the separatist government (PQ) to win over the people to the federalist cause. This bidding war resulted in huge amounts of spending inside Quebec which spilled over to other regions in Canada which eventually got us into the debt situation we find ourselves in at this time. Keep in mind that it was PET who started deficit financing with his admiration of Keynsian economic philosophy. Unfortunate, that he only read the chapter about borrowing in bad times without reading the chapter on paying back in the good times.

    Marois is just a separatist on paper and I doubt she actually believes at all in a sovereign Quebec as the majority of people in Quebec. They fully know, the ramifications and economic hardships that Quebec would experience without the padding of their provincial budget by the ROC. Consider that equalization alone if 8.5 Billion per year which constitutes about 13% of the Quebec provincial government. Would the taxpayers want to dole out an additional 13% in Taxes to cover the shortfall. Never will happen as we all know. Quebec has for the most part played the rest of the country as suckers and fools, cafing in to their unrealistic demands.

    Perhaps the new majority Government in Ottawa will bring about some change although it would appear to me that they yielded to the 2.2 Billion payment over the harmonized tax. Quebec indicates they already harmonized...Really, I have business in Quebec and I still have to remit QST directly to the Quebec government. That is not harmonization as we know it in other provinces where there is only one tax to pay which simplifies things and saves the provincial governments lots of money with not having to administer their own sales tax. You think for one minute that this will every happen in Quebec. Not likely as the government employees union would have a shit fit.

    Essentially, we are giving them a payment for something they have never implemented (at least to date).

    So, time will tell how the Harper government will reign in Quebec and level the playing field with the other provinces.

    Hope so, but the 2.2 billion is not a good sign for the ROC with respect to the federal governement's treatment of Quebec.

    Might have been better for Quebec to have separated back in 1995. The real reason the fed's (liberals) were afraid...losing their power base in Eastern Canada and subsequent power shifting elsewhere.

  8. The situation with the PQ must be very bad. Just today Louis Prefontaine said that the PQ is no longer a party that serves Quebec nation, whatever that means. He also wrote that Marois kills the Quiet Revolution.


    Just wondering, who is not in grasp with reality?

  9. Haïti chérie dit: Je vous signale qu'il y a un appui constant à la souveraineté qui se situe autour de 40 %, c'est sans compter les indécis qui changent d'avis comme ils changent de cravates... La raison d'être du PQ est la souveraineté, la laisser tomber serait une grave erreur. Dans le pire des cas, un nouveau parti relancerait l'idée qui elle survit et survivra aux partis qui la promeut. Au contraire, beaucoup de gens votent pour le PQ car le parti s'est un peu accaparé la question nationale alors que ça devrait être le lot de tous les partis d'en tenir compte. Pour un fois, Jean Charest avait dit quelque chose de sensé à ce sujet en disant que l'option de l'indépendance était toujours légitimes pour un bon nombre de citoyens. Contrairement aux fédéralistes qui font l'autruche en mettant de côté l'insatisfaction constitutionnelle des souverainistes...

  10. Au contraire, un vote pour le PQ doit être un vote pour la souveraineté. Pas de référendum, une obligation d'office pour le PQ de réaliser la souveraineté.