Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Will Premier Pauline Marois tell us how a separate Quebec will work on the world stage?

Is Premier Pauline Marois striking a presidential pose?

Pauline Marois doesn't seem to realize that a separate Quebec is not in her mandate from the voters. So why the jabs against Canada starting with the swearing in ceremony of her cabinet?

by Tom Thorne

As I predicted, newly minted Quebec premier Pauline Marois is already spreading the ever vague doctrine of Quebec separatism. For Madame Marois it is like being in a separatist candy store now she has the top Quebec political job.  Lots of promising sweets to try or so she thinks.

Well I hate to deflate Pauline Marois' separatism sweet tooth.  The candy store contains lots of sour candy too. Most of the sour candy is the economy, health care and underfunded education at all levels and in particular in higher education where she is duty bound to maintain Quebec’s low tuition rates after she pandered to student protesters in the recent election. 

Her first action at the National Assembly was to remove the Canadian Flag from the swearing in ceremony of herself and her cabinet ministers. Yes, only the Quebec flag was present as a tangible symbol that things have changed. It is an act that is more  gauche than a statement for separatism. It demonstrates the mean spirit of separatists.

Despite this silly Canada snub, things have not changed. Quebec remains in Canada and to swear in her cabinet she had to involve the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec who  is a institution not only of Canada and Quebec as a Canadian province but for Pauline Marois a reminder perhaps of how she despises the Monarchy as a symbol of alleged oppression.

Next she will want to remove the Crown from the Royal arms in the National Assembly. We all know too well that Madame Marois is against the Monarchy. However, she has to swallow the Monarchy pill to become premier. The Crown is a strong enough institution to bear and even swear in separatists who are its avowed enemies.

So not including the Canadian Flag at this event does little to change anything except to show clearly the separatist lack of decorum and connection with the full history of Canada and Quebec's institutions. Her action should have been refused by the Lieutenant Governor. We'll see at the upcoming opening of parliament in the National Assembly whether both flags are present during the speech from the throne.

Pauline Marois' brand of separatism seems to rely on the cut here, a jab there, or a mindless comment off the cuff to promote separatism. Eventually, she hopes, we all expire from a thousand insults and her rounds of gaucheness. Actually her actions are seen  as a ho hum moment in Quebec history and a shabby farce for many thoughtful Quebeckers.

If she is so keen a separatist let her lay out her plans for a separate Quebec in detail. Are we to have the Republic of Quebec?  And who will be the head of state to replace the Lieutenant Governor in this brave new separatist world? Will it be some aging Parti Quebecois hack or a distinguished Quebecker whose political credentials will not matter because he or she will have the respect of Quebeckers? Will the new separatist state have a President who is head of state but also elected? Will there be a Prime Minister doing Pauline Marois' current job?

Why not come clean and layout what will replace the Queen's representative since Madame Marois dislikes the current office so much. The truth is if the separatists show how they would organize a separate Quebec into a republic they would have to really show Quebeckers and the rest of Canadians how they would do it. I challenge them to do this so we all know where they propose to take Quebec if they ever win a referendum for separation.

Of course they won't ever lay out this aspect of a truly separated Quebec state because the reality of "separatism" is really a sad political ploy to keep Ottawa off side and to be a province with special powers, not only the powers contained in the unsigned federal Canadian Constitution but the extra stuff they want if we are to keep them in Canada. 

The provincial  Parti Quebecois threatens separatism as a way to get more from Ottawa. It's federal political manifestation, the Bloc Québécois was crushed in the last federal election by the New Democratic Party (NDP) and it had much the same aim as the Parti Quebecois. When asked what they want they always answer vaguely, "whatever is good for Quebec". Quebec voters have been telling them the answer for years. Canada is good for Quebec.

The best electoral response the separatists can muster is about a 30 percent of Quebeckers. Many of these people are Quebec nationalists who in a pinch will not vote for separating Quebec from Canada. So the real hard core separatists amount to very few people in Quebec and if you are  Parti Quebecois premier you pander to them so at party conventions your leadership is not challenged. 

Also among hard core separatists there is very little agreement. Some are moderates that are really Quebec Nationalists. Some are single issue people. Some are simply like former premier Jacque Parizeau sad old men with no hope of seeing a separated Quebec in their lifetime. Lucien Bouchard bounced from federal Conservative politics into the Parti Quebecois premiership seemingly having finally got his separatist mojo in order.  He also fizzled.

My point is all these separatists have yet to make a good argument for Quebeckers to make the break with Canada. They never spell out what the Republic of Quebec will be like and how it will relate to Canada, the USA and the rest of the world. In short there is no plan, no real agenda that is not soft when it comes to the details of separating from the rest of Canada.  In a word separatists are tiresome.

© Copyright 2012, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

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