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! (ygreck.ca )|
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?