Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yet another reason why 'la nation québécoise' was a bad idea

There has been a lot of hoopla in the House this week, replete with MPs aggressing others in QP, name-calling, accusations, you name it. Of course, shutting down an essential committee because the discourse was too partisan is pretty dumb and deserves questions - lots of questions. It is understandable that much of the focus is on that.

HOWEVER a couple of other interesting things have come up in recent days, both centring on the BQ and no, I don't mean Duceppe's pitiful stunt last weekend. I can't believe I feel sorry for him, but there it is: I feel very, very sorry for him.

The first issue was last week when Josée Verner, Minister responsible for La Francophonie announced increased funding for French-language colleges and CEGEPS. Now, my ears pricked up when I heard that because Quebec is the only province with CEGEPS and, well, education est une compétance provinciale. Nothing from the Bloc. Next day, same announcement - again nothing from the Bloc. Of course, reasonable people know that anyone complaining about increased funding for education must be mad, but this response or lack thereof from the Bloc is puzzling simply because EVERY issue for them becomes one of jurisdiction. Their silence on what is clearly the feds sashaying all over provincial jurisdiction is truly bizarre. Their stock answer would normally be, in French of course, the money rightfully belongs to Quebec and the Quebec government will decide how it's distributed.

The next issue that came up stems from the recognition of the nation québécoise, which the CPC made clear was only French-speaking québécois de souche. As an anglo-québécoise de souche, I've always been leery of the whole nation thing for obvious reasons. On Tuesday and again on Wednesday Pierre Paquette - the man who would have been leader - demanded 25% representation for Quebec in the House. From yesterday's Hansard translation

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is not alone in opposing the bill introduced by the government, which seeks to increase the number of members in this House from 308 to 320. A majority of members of the National Assembly of Quebec also spoke out against the electoral representation bill yesterday.

If the Prime Minister does not want the motion on the Quebec nation to be nothing but wishful thinking, he must withdraw his bill and guarantee Quebec 25% of the seats in this House. That is what he must do.

On both days, he indicated that the demand was based on the recognition of the the nation in the House. I wonder if the Bloc would consider increasing the seat count in largely anglophone or allophone or aboriginal regions. After all, these groups were not included in the 'nation'.

In any case, Harper may have thought he had a quick fix that would score him big points in Quebec, all the while stealing the 'glory' from the Liberals for the problem that plagued our Leadership race. But this is just the beginning of the headaches - Harper will soon realise that his seemingly innocuous gesture is going to lead to increasingly strident demands from the Bloc that will never be met to their satisfaction. He'll soon learn learn what Quebec federalists have known all along: you can't appease separatists. Nothing is good enough.

On the other hand, given the Bloc's above-mentioned bizarre behaviour i.e. not defending provincial jurisdiction and trying to increase Quebec's presence in Ottawa rather than complete withdrawal makes me wonder if they are turning into federalists, after all.

UPDATE: They were all over the subject again today, with Duceppe leading the charge.

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At 10:56 p.m., Blogger Alex Plante said...

The nation motion was voted by a majority of people at the general council of the LPC(Q). Members of the LPC(Q) are federalists and they favoured the recognition of the Quebec nation. In our definition of the nation, every Quebecer is part of the nation.

At 7:20 a.m., Blogger Sinestra said...

Your definition wasn't passed in HOC - Harper's was.

At 5:19 p.m., Blogger Freddie Sirmans said...

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