|PQ trying to dance at two weddings|
For Couillard, the challenge is to keep the referendum and sovereignty debate in the limelight, a discussion which has proved to be the PQ's Achilles Heel, so much so that Pauline has publicly announced her abandonment of the option, that is, ahem....until Quebecers are ready for it.
That pregnant pause has now become known as Pauline's 'dot, dot, dot' moment, a perceived trick whereby she tried to allay fears about a possible referendum for the majority of voters who don't want one, while assuaging the resulting angst of her hardline supporters with the promise that it is all contingent on events.
I am mindful of the old Yiddish proverb that reminds us;
"You can't dance at two weddings with one ass."
'Mit eyn tokhes ken men nit tantsn af tsvey khasenes.'
The trap was rather clever, but Couillard actually had help, benefiting from the news article written in La Presse which was a gift horse, a softball pitch that he could knock out of the park. The two page spread was a devastating attack on the credibility of the PQ and its leadership;
"Columnist Vincent Marissal wrote that several notable PQ ministers, party supporters, and writers with the Quebecor-owned Journal de Montreal came up with a plan in 2007 to transform the party. Those people include Jean-Francois Lisée, Mathieu Bock-Coté, and Pierre Karl Peladeau, the president and CEO of Quebecor.Read the original article in French HERE
One key part of that plan was to create a Charter of Values that would violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, thus creating a dispute between the federal government and Quebecers. Link
You might remember that when elected, Pauline promised us that this is exactly what she intended to do, squabble with Ottawa in order to evoke sovereigntist support."Liberal leader Philippe Couillard said this is proof the Parti Quebecois has embarked on a Machiavellian plan to brainwash Quebecers into supporting the Charter of Values, and inevitably leading to support for a referendum on separation." Link
And so Couillard brought back the referendum debate by neatly linking it to the Charter of Values, a disastrous situation for Marois who wants to campaign on the Charter, but not referendums.
This attack by Couillard was so deadly that Marois had to defuse the situation by pretending that the story about a plot to create a dispute as detailed in La Presse, was false and that the PQ had every intention of using the notwithstanding clause.
But wait a minute, back in January, Bernard Drainville was swearing up and down that the Charter of Values could stand the test of any constitutional challenge"A Parti Québécois government would use the notwithstanding clause to protect its proposed secular charter from a court challenge, party leader Pauline Marois said – the first time she has invoked the constitutional protection.
Ms. Marois said it was necessary to reassure Quebeckers that the secular charter will be enforced after hearing rumblings that the rest of Canada will challenge its validity before the courts." Link
Charter of Values: No Need to Resort to Notwithstanding Clause
Quebec doesn't have to resort to the Notwithstanding Clause of the Canadian Constitution to shelter the charter of Values from an eventual court challenge, reaffirmed Bernard Drainville, the minister responsible for democratic institutions.
Bill 60 which forms the basis of the proposed Charter of State Secularism, rests on, according to him, solid judicial ground and therefore doesn't need the protection of the exceptional provision of the constitution.
"During a press conference Thursday morning, alongside the public consultation on Bill 60, Minister Drainville indicated the need to address the issue by noting that the project under consideration included amendments to the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which would normally be taken into account during any judgments on the subject. Link
"In the past, Ms. Marois had always argued that according to the government’s legal experts the secular charter would meet any court challenge from those who argued it would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms." LinkSo How does Marois explain her about face?
She explained that the PQ recently found out that some evil Canadians from outside Quebec, were planning to challenge the law in court. Argghh......
And so Couillard has neatly trapped the PQ into playing defence with the one issue that it thought would save them, the Charter of Values. (or whatever it is called)
To that end, Janette Bertrand, the 89 year-old fantasy-world dweller, didn't help with her hilariously racist rant, at a PQ breakfast promoting the charter.
Now don't accuse me of ageism for invoking her age, Jean-François Lisée no less, in a radio interview, told the audience that she might have had a 'senior moment.'
The 89 year-old warned the audience that Rich /Muslim/fundamentalists from McGill University were about to takeover Quebec.
In the room where she made her pronouncement were many PQ stalwarts, many clearly uneasy with what was being said. Go back to the video and check out Leo Bureau-Blouin, the ex-student leader now running for the PQ, burying his head in shame, down in the lower right-hand corner.
Not so for Drainville who stood stoically beside Bertrand during her entire speech.
Today's reaction was swift from the sovereigntist news journalists, humiliated at the spectacle and wondering how many more slings and arrows, the Charter could survive.
Said Sophie Durocher in Le Journal du Montreal of Madame Bertrand;"With friends like that, you don't need enemies!" Link
Thus readers, dies the 'Janette' movement... a group of pro-charter women that includes various media types including PKP's ex, Julie Snyder.
Lucky the group doesn't have membership cards, else-wise, those involved would all be chopping them up and flushing the evidence of their membership down the toilet. Suivant!
As you can imagine the Bertrand performance was fodder for much indignation, even Françoise David condemned the tirade in no uncertain terms.
But Couillard was particularly harsh in his condemnation of Bertrand, inciting Marois to defend Bertrand, demanding he apologize for his remarks.
Readers, this is how elections are won and lost.
Mr. Couillard may not be the most dynamic campaigner, but he's smart enough to let his opponents self-destruct, offering just enough encouragement and providing just enough rope for the PQ to hang itself.
It seems that La Presse is winning the proxy war between itself and the Journal de Montreal, the Demarais newspaper scoring late, but with devastating effect in its effort to undermine the PQ, with the JdeMtl seemingly out of gas after its early smear jobs on Couillard.
But I'll have more on that epic battle next post.....