|René Levesque would not be amused at the new PQ|
Now many have predicted the death of the Parti Quebecois only to have the party regain some electoral strength, confounding the experts and convincing us that the PQ is forever, albeit living through different periods of popularity, ups and downs but forever a fixture in Quebec politics.
But it seems that like the aging actor, time has run out for the PQ and like an over-the-hill diva, the best exit is a dignified retirement.
One only has to look at the pitiful example of the diminished Bloc Quebecois, whose few members prattle around Parliament in Ottawa, excluded, irrelevant and ignored, yet delusionally unaware of their situation, like the boob who leaves the bathroom trailing a length of toilet paper, a laughingstock who marches on, oblivious to the snickers of the surrounding onlookers.
Jean-Francois Lisée, the latest iteration of PQ leader is telling all who will listen that the party is not the PQ of our grandfathers, it is new and improved, but it is in fact essentially no different from a consumer product that changes it packaging (but not its content) in relation to falling sales.
And so we are being told the PQ is shelving the sovereignty option for at least two terms, with the old PQ stalwart and ex-Premier Bernard Landry opining that perhaps the option should be put off for at least three mandates, which means three terms of PQ government, something not likely to happen at in the foreseeable future.
So toxic is the sovereignty notion that the essence of the PQ is challenged, because if they forgo the sovereignty option as many have suggested, what is left?
First let's get the numbers out of the way.
A CROP poll for La Presse sounding 18-24 year olds found that the PQ had on 16% support and that 69% would vote no in a referendum on sovereignty, a new and catastrophic low.
This is the generation that is going to replace the aging boomers that now make up the bulk of the PQ membership and so the future is grim.
The fact is that life is pretty good being a Canadian and the risk of sovereignty just plain not worth it.
It is that simple, there remains no viable road to sovereignty.
Many commentators and indeed members of the PQ itself are openly discussing getting rid of the founding principle of the PQ, that is the holy grail of sovereignty.
But a PQ without sovereignty is like a milkshake without milk, a pizza without bread or a hockey game without a puck.
It can't work.
Should the PQ abandon the sovereignty option, the core hardliners, albeit fewer and fewer, will never accept a political landscape where no political party is supporting and indeed militating for Quebec independence and so sure as shooting another iteration of the now defunct Option nationale - Pour l'indépendance du Québec founded by Jean-Martin Aussant, a party suicidal in its pursuit of the full independence of Quebec will re-appear.
Even if there is zero chance of electoral success, hardliners will still support such a party because it is representing their core beliefs, even if that support bleeds PQ votes and helps return the Liberals to power, over and over again.
As for the PQ without sovereignty, we had a taste of what that 'progressive' government might be like in Pauline Marois' last fling at the head of a PQ 'lite' government, where the gross incompetence in just about every legislative pursuit was manifestly evident.
The political arena is crowded enough with three major parties splitting the vote and where no party is likely to win a clear majority of the popular vote. But the more parties there are, the better for the Liberals who can and do win majority governments with support in the 35% zone.
Another left-wing separatist party will just about seal the fate of those who want to see an end to the Liberal party domination.
The very best thing the PQ can do is to preserve its dignity is to retire, but like the Bloc it is likely to put the electorate through a prolonged death rattle which will last from ten to fifteen years until the old guard dies off.
The PQ can't win with sovereignty and can't survive without it, and that my friends is the long and the short of it.