Remember when we actually took Quebec separatism seriously? When it looked like there was a serious prospect of a coalition of opposition parties taking over government, in the age of the Bloc Quebecois?
Canadian politics makes so much more sense now — a strong centre-left opposition, a centre-right slim majority government, a third party in between…
So yeah, 28%?
Le Parti québécois est aux portes du pouvoir, mais le courant souverainiste est clairement en perte de vitesse. Seulement 28% des gens voteraient Oui à un référendum proposant que le Québec devienne un pays souverain, un recul de huit points depuis le début de la campagne électorale. …
Dans son coup de sonde, CROP constate que le camp du Non ne gagne pas autant de terrain toutefois. On est passé de 60 à 62% depuis le début août, révèlent les données brutes. Ce sont les indécis qui ont pris du poids – ils étaient 4% au début du mois d’août, on en retrouve désormais 10% sur la question référendaire.
I hesitate to post something from Frum, but here’s why:
If Quebec breaks the fiscal union with Canada, it must for its own sake exit the currency union too. Which means that Quebeckers will awake the next day to huge depreciations of their salaries, benefits, and savings.
Quebecers know that, or anyway intuit it. The old promises of an easy separatism have been discredited. Separatism is now a hard path, involving great sacrifices, reduced standards of living, more work, and fewer social benefits — all at a time when PQ supporters yearn to hear a message of no sacrifices, improved standards of living, less work, and more social benefits. Which is precisely why Quebec separatism is effectively dead.
So what is offered instead is an elaborate pretense. PQ leader Pauline Marois has promised to form of committee to work on a project to develop a plan for a new strategy for independence. The committee will begin by studying past studies of Quebec independence, and then — once the studies are complete — proceed to propose action plans. A new diplomatic initiative will seek to gain international approval of the independence that Quebecers themselves do not want.
In tough economic times, these studies at least offer make-work jobs for under-utilized economists, sociologists, and party functionaries. But they impose a tough challenge on the rest of Canada: how to keep a straight face through the prolonged hemming and hawing. “Okay, you just let us know when you finish talking to yourselves. Take your time. We’ll wait. Four years? Eight? Twenty-seven? Fine. No rush.”
If the sovereigntist movement is ever to die, this is how it will die:
One thing is clear: I don’t want to define myself as a federalist. I want to define myself as a Quebecker first, but also as a Canadian. … I am a Canadian. We accept that we are in Canada. I think we’ll have a good relationship with Stephen Harper. I think that we agree on many issues, including the economy and public finances. Of course, we have some disagreements on social issues. … I am back in politics for ten years, and I will never promote the sovereignty of Quebec.
That’s the best case scenario for these ex-separatists, and it’s not a terrible one.
“This is our most desperate time. Help us, Justin-wan Trudeau-bi. You’re our only hope!“
The Quebec provincial election. More than any other provincial issue, that is the one — comme toujours — with the greatest implications for Canada and Canadian politicians. No other provincial concern comes remotely close to the high-stakes contest now underway in the province of Quebec. The outcome will define our national politics for years to come.
Here’s a possible scenario, in 10 problematic steps. It ends with a solution.
One: The remarkable political career of Jean Charest comes to an end, with a loss on Sept. 4 to the separatist Parti Quebecois leader, Pauline Marois. For months, polls have shown Charest is either behind or tied with his PQ rival. If Marois wins a majority in the first week of September, it is difficult to see how Charest can remain at the helm of his party. Federalism will have lost its most effective francophone advocate since Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien. …
Ten: Justin Trudeau, future Liberal leader, future prime minister.
The national question is the only thing the Liberals have left to pry back the votes of the old left-Liberals who’ve fled to the NDP.
Justin makes the most sense for this Hail Mary play.
Meanwhile, let’s watch the Quebec election.
That’s the subject of Paul Wells’s latest.
Stephen Harper doesn’t announce many of his most important meetings. He routinely meets one-on-one with provincial premiers without either party mentioning the encounters to reporters. And from Stephanie Levitz at Canadian Press comes news that he met Brian Mulroney and, separately, Jean Charest last week. …
Harper’s tiny Quebec caucus makes as many brave noises as it can, but I know the prime minister is spooked by the prospect (not the guarantee, because of course there is none, but the non-negligible possibility) of a Parti Québécois government returning to power within 15 weeks.
Various branches of the federal government have quietly been discussing possible responses to a PQ victory. During the recent French election, one of Harper’s main concerns was PQ claims that François Hollande would rekindle a cozy relationship between French Socialists and Quebec separatists. (Polarity on that file has switched a few times over the years. De Gaulle was no Socialist and François Mitterrand, who was, was no fan of the PQ. But Jacques Chirac astonished everyone by becoming a good friend of Jean Chrétien’s, and Nicolas Sarkozy was so tight with the Desmarais clan that the PQ is coming off the chilliest five years it’s ever known in France. So the PQ has been hoping a Hollande victory would bring a thaw.) I’m told Harper was greatly reassured by his first long conversation with Hollande, at Camp David last month. But France’s attitude was always going to be peripheral. Hollande doesn’t get a vote. …
As for Harper: try this thought experiment. Imagine Albertans taking it into their heads to do something, and Tom Mulcair trying to talk them out of it. That’s a decent proxy for Harper’s clout in Quebec: the NDP share of the popular vote in Alberta last May and the Conservatives’ in Quebec were nearly the same.
So if Pauline Marois became premier and decided to try her luck, she’d face a worn-out Jean Charest with no young Jean Charest to back him up; and a Prime Minister with half the seats and voter appeal that Jean Chrétien had when he nearly lost the 1995 referendum. What’s that leave?
Why, Tom Mulcair. By some measures, the most popular politician in Quebec. A few New Democrats were already crowing Friday evening on Twitter at the prospect of Mulcair emerging as Captain Canada in some new confrontation. And that would indeed be fun. But early on, his stance on the Clarity Act and the NDP’s Sherbrooke Declaration would get noticed by the 64% of 2011 NDP voters who live outside Quebec. … Mulcair … would watch his party snap like a twig. …
[If Marois] wins an election and then gets bold or reckless, Harper won’t have much of a political hand. He will have the Clarity Act, the Constitution and customary international law, all of which break decidedly in favour of a united Canada. But those are all handy guides for steering through a hell of a political mess. Once you need them, you’re already in the mess. No wonder Harper is renewing strategic acquaintances.
I say this: for all the complaining one hears, French is very well protected and, that being so, Quebeckers like being in Canada.
The only way that province is leaving is if the rest of the country gets together and holds a referendum on kicking them out.
The Conservatives DO need to buck up in Quebec, but that’s because a second majority is hard at the current levels of Quebec support. It took winning the rest of Canada in a Mulroney 1984 fashion to get the first one, and you can’t count on that particular bolt of lightning striking twice.
Update: Other comment — all these regionalist bleats are paper tigers. Same goes for “Western alienation”.
Now that they’ve seen that (1) there can be a Western Canada-based leader and party elected to government, and (2) the piece-meal dismantling of traditional Canadian symbols that they disliked has been pushed back against (hello, Royal Canadian Air Force!), there really aren’t that many real complaints.
Yes, there are bad policies — equalization, for one. But those are best dealt with through the political process.
I went to an Anglican school, dear readers.
I am perfectly fine with Ontario schoolchildren hearing about Jesus Christ, participating in Nativity plays, putting up a tree, and doing all that stuff.
I wouldn’t mind too much if the secular public schools were still Protestant, as they were until the 1980s.
I wouldn’t mind at all if all denominational schools were funded, where the numbers warranted — a Sikh school in Brampton, a Hindu school in Richmond Hill, even a Muslim school in Scarborough.
But I do mind the current system, and I especially mind being told that it isn’t unjust.
Ontarians get this, I think. I can cite polling:
A recent Forum Research Inc. poll suggests a divided Ontario.
The survey found that 53% of Ontarians don’t believe Catholic schools should receive public money, 40% favour continued funding and 6% were unsure.
Supporters for all four main political parties in Ontario — Tory, Liberal, NDP and Green — were more likely to oppose Catholic school funding.
The majority of Green Party supporters, 60%, disagreed with funding the schools — a position the party also endorses.
Tory supporters were the next political group most likely to disagree with Catholic school funding — 58% against versus 40% in favour.
New Democrat backers also disagreed with funding the separate school system, 53% to 41%.
Even Liberal supporters, the most likely to endorse the funding, still disagreed with funding 48% to 44%.
What do I propose? Well, Quebec and Newfoundland reformed their systems in the 1990s — all it takes is a single-province constitutional amendment under s. 43 of the Constitution Act.
I’d call a plebiscite into the question, “Should the Province of Ontario fund denominational (religious) schools or not, as part of its public system?”
If the answer is yea, I’d fund all denominational schools where the numbers warrant. If the answer is nay, I’d move to a purely secular system. And I’d table a constitutional amendment to change s. 93 to reflect this new reality.
I’m fine with going one way or the other; the status quo is a nagging injustice.
I’ve been posting less and less, dear readers, and here’s why: I’m increasingly optimistic about our continent.
All that I’ve seen of opinion polls suggests to me that our general population has a good collective head on its shoulders, and it’s just the political class that’s falling down on the job from time to time.
Here’s an example, which I’ll tell using tweets from Paul Wells.
1. “Fascinating poll. Majorities support each part of #loi78 — but majority doesn’t think it’ll help. And its presence is eroding gov’t support”
2. “Most think the law is legitimate, but not pertinent: that it does things a government should be able to, but that it doesn’t help.”
3. “Le Devoir’s A1 pic: Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois giggling as a panda hugs him. La Presse poll: 74% reject CLASSE’s civil disobedience.”
4. “Funniest part of CROP/La Presse: Quebec City numbers. There’s left-right aspect, but mostly I think they see all this as Montreal bullshit.”
What can we glean from these nuggets of polling data? [UPDATE: here's the poll.]
1. The general public rejects mob rule. Just because students don’t like a mild tuition hike, and just because they have the right to assemble peacefully and make their views heard, they do not have the right to restrict others’ ability to attend classes or manage their own businesses.
2. Just because the general public doesn’t like what’s going on and would support a clampdown on these protesters, it doesn’t follow that they’ll back any old law. Loi 78 is a dumb law, and people recognize that — it’s an attempt to pass a law in order to be seen to be passing a law.
3. CLASSE is a bunch of upper-middle class entitled jackasses, and the general public recognizes that, too.
All in all, a wholly sensible public response to a bunch of law-breaking (and injunction-breaking) anarchists.
The government’s response, incidentally, should have gone something like this:
Quebec is a free society. Students have the right to assemble freely and make their views heard, like all other citizens. Those rights, however, end where others’ rights begin. Just as some students have been exercising their right to protest, other students have been exercising their right NOT to participate, and instead to attend the academic classes for which they have paid good money, as has the Government of Quebec. Freedom of association and freedom of expression do not entail the right to trample on others’ freedoms, and to the extent necessary, the Sûreté will be intervening to protect the rights of all of our citizens.
It should be noted also that students’ rights to assemble and express themselves do not excuse them from the requirements of their degree courses — whether exemptions to exam and paper requirements are given is a matter between students and their professors.
Our decision to impose a moderate tuition increase over the next seven years is final. It has support from a majority of the population, and it WILL be implemented. Should some fellow citizens have a different view, there will be a general election for the National Assembly sometime in the next eighteen months — they have ample time to make their case through the democratic institutions that define a free society.
Thank you, and have a good spring. We look forward to welcoming many tourists to Montreal, one of the world’s great cultural attractions.
I’m pretty sure that that would have been in line with what about 70% of the population in Quebec is thinking, and would have been a wildly popular stance.
So what’s going on in Quebec is a failure of political and intellectual elites. The general population is doing just fine, thank you very much.
MONTREAL – A plan to restore order in Montreal appeared to erupt in smoke late Saturday, with fiery blockades blazing on a busy downtown street corner in a dispute gaining international attention.
Groups of protesters built pyres from plastic traffic cones and construction materials, setting them ablaze in the middle of an intersection in a popular night club district.
Meanwhile, the protest has spread beyond borders.
In New York, members of the Montreal-based rock band “Arcade Fire” wore the movement’s iconic red squares during an appearance with The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger on Saturday Night Live. Jagger wore a red shirt, but no red square. …
The scenes in Montreal unfolded during a tense late night march that, on several occasions, saw riot police use tear gas and protesters throw bottles and rocks.
Student protesters were joined by others spilling out of bars and clubs.
Together, they built the fires and cheered as the flames lit up the streets and sent plumes of black smoke billowing into the night sky.
Well, here’s the song for it.
Burn baby burn! Burn baby burn! Burn baby burn! Burn baby burn!
To mass fires, yes! One hundred stories high
People gettin’ loose y’all gettin’ down on the roof – Do you hear?
(the folks are flaming) Folks were screamin’ – out of control
Update: Text of the law here.
See, what really was at issue was the law students who wanted to go back to class and got a court order allowing them to do so.
The big failure was that the government allowed police to stand by and let violent mobs break up the classes. The first person to try to bust up the UQAM classes should’ve eaten a nightstick, and been hauled off to jail for disobeying a court order.
That’s where the state needed to step in. Not really here, though it’s amusing watching the police and the crowds go at it.
Though I suppose there’s something in this.
(Québec) Pour la première fois depuis des mois, le Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ) se hisse en tête d’un sondage. Il recueille 30 % des intentions de vote, selon le dernier CROP.
N’empêche que ce serait un très gros pari pour Jean Charest de convoquer les Québécois aux urnes avec les données colligées par la firme de sondage. Car, déjà à des sommets, le taux d’insatisfaction à l’endroit de son gouvernement grimpe encore! Il passe de 70 à 73 %.
Selon la dernière enquête CROP-Le Soleil-La Presse, le Parti québécois (PQ) a chuté du premier au deuxième rang depuis le mois dernier. La formation de Pauline Marois aurait reçu l’appui de 28 % des citoyens si des élections générales avaient eu lieu entre le 18 et le 23 avril.
La Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), de François Legault, demeure stationnée en troisième position, avec 25 % des intentions de vote.
So, for the French-challenged, that’s Liberals 30, PQ 28, CAQ 25; but the Liberal government has a dissatisfaction rating of 73% because they’re corrupt sons of bitches.
That means at least a portion of the province hates them but is voting for them anyway, because there’s no-one else.
First by default! Go Quebec Liberals!