It is indeed true, boys ‘n’ girls, Stevie Spiteful just added the unthinkable to his repertoire: grovelling to former foes: Lyin’ Brian Mulroney and Premier Johnny-Boy. Get this, boys ‘n’ girls, Stevie Spiteful is starting to care about La Belle Province these days. Oh my! I wonder why?
Stephen Harper held a secret meeting in a Montreal hotel with Mulroney last week, The Canadian Press has learned, to seek advice on forming a better relationship with Quebec.
He sought similar advice that same day from Liberal Premier Jean Charest, government sources said.
That is funny! Seeking advice on how to be popular in La Belle Province from Lyin’ Brian? The man whose attempts to get Meech Lake Accord or The Charlottetown accord signed failed spectacularly? Meech Lake Accord that highlighted how English Canada and French Quebec really don’t understand each other and probably never will? Lyin’ Brian whose party splintered into a Western ultra conservative populist party and the Bloc Quebecois under former environment minister, Lucien Bouchard? Oh that is funny, indeed!
As for Premier Johnny-Boy, he who campaigned for the Bloc Quebecois in the 2008 federal election? Johnny, who never had much popularity with Francophones? What is happening, Johnny?
Well, it would appear that the recent by-election win in former Liberal stronghold of Argenteuil by the Parti-Quebecois has spooked Stevie. Before the by-election, pundits were touting Argenteuil as a potential bellwether riding despite it having been in Liberal hands since 1966. All of a sudden, the potential for a Parti-Quebecois win in the next provincial election, thus, potentially, another referendum on sovereignty becomes that much more real. Perhaps ol’ Stevie wouldn’t want to go down in the history books as breaking up the country after all.
Although, my take on the recent Argenteuil by-election is more of a simple case of math than anything else. Had Francois Legault’s CAQ not run a candidate to take votes away from the Liberals, Johnny-Boy would’ve been victorious. But still, how many more ridings would be like Argenteuil and have 3 way races which could see La Marois’s PQ coming up the middle? Anyway, if the PQ wins the next election, it’ll most likely be a minority, so referendum on sovereignty would be less likely, unless, of course, Francois Legault and CAQ see those so-called winning conditions, change their minds and actually prop up La Marois. A least likely scenario, I know, but not outside the realm of possibility. Let’s remember where Francois Legault began his political career. Anyway, I digress, analysis of the recent provincial by-elections and next provincial election is for another post.
Who Would Play Assistant Captain Canada to Stevie Spiteful in the Event of a Referendum on Sovereignty?
This is indeed true. Unlike Jean Chretien in the 90s, who had credible allies who crossed party lines to campaign on the “no” side, who would represent the federalist side in a potential referendum from team Harpercon? Or, for that matter, who would cross party lines to join Stevie trying to sell federalism? Well, that would be slim pickin’s from any party to say the least.
If the election of a PQ government does eventually result in another election on the question of separation, who is going to wave the maple leaf?
“Who is there from the federal government to lead the no side in the same way (Liberal Prime Minister Jean) Chrétien led in the last referendum?,” White said.
No one ever speaks in favour of Harper in Quebec and in fact he is reviled there, White said.
“If there’s an election pitting Harper against (PQ Leader Pauline) Marois, Marois wins hands down,” he said.
Again, who would be helping Harper and posing for pictures alongside him holding the maple leaf?
As for Peter White, I will get back to him later in this post.
Jacques Who (Gourde)?
Chrissy Paradis, the “Quebec lieutenant”, who, himself, has been mired in scandal? (Wingnut Den Tandt thinks he will no longer be Quebec lieutenant, nor minister of industry following a possible cabinet shuffle come the fall sitting of parliament).
Ex-Lax Max Bernier? His popularity in La Belle Province is in the Beauce, and even then, I always believed he rode the coat tails of his father, former Tory MP for the Beauce and Radio show host, Gilles Bernier.
Stephen Blaney who bungled up the veterans’ affairs portfolio and he, who is not known outside of his Levis-Bellechasse riding? (and even then…).
That leaves us with our transport minister of Roberval, Denis Lebel. Though, he is probably one of the few Harpercons to actually get some semi-positive ink lately for suggesting that the new bridge to replace the ailing Champlain Bridge be renamed afterafter Montreal Canadiens hockey legend Maurice (Rocket) Richard, I don’t picture him as someone who is gung-ho ga ga over waving the maple leaf. Especially, not in a usually sovereigntist region of the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean. Lebel is also a nationalist in his own right. Another reminder concerning Ex-Lax Max and Denis Lebel; both the NDP and the Liberals could hammer them both over the head for past separatist ties: ol’ Max for having been an advisor for Bernard Landry when he was PQ finance minister and Denis Lebel for his old membership in the Bloc Quebecois. The Bloc Quebecois (as did the Liberals and Harpercons) hammered Nycole Turmel for her old BQ membership so why wouldn’t they go after Lebel and Bernier? I can see the BQ and the PQ pointing their fingers at Lebel and Ex-Lax Max, chanting the word, “traitor!”.
What Stevie has in a paltry Quebec caucus is not only not a group of strong personalities, but also, for the most part, a controversial group in some shape or form.
There is also Stevie Spiteful, hisself. He is hated in Quebec. I would say that he is probably more hated in Quebec than Pierre Elliot Trudeau or Jean Chretien ever were. He didn’t help his cause when he went all ga ga for the British monarchy, removing paintings by Quebecois artists and replacing them with portraits of the Queen. He certainly proved his spite for La Belle Province shortly after the last federal election when he ignored the victims of the Richelieu flood while promising aid to those of the Slave Lake fires and Manitoba floods. Let’s not forget what ol’ Stevie had to say about official bilingualism in Canada:
“It is simply difficult – extremely difficult – for someone to become bilingual in a country that is not. And make no mistake. Canada is not a bilingual country. In fact it less bilingual today than it has ever been… So there you have it. As a religion, bilingualism is the god that failed. It has led to no fairness, produced no unity and cost Canadian taxpayers untold millions.”
- Stephen Harper on bilingualism, Calgary Sun, May 6th 2001.
“If you’ve read any of the official propagandas, you’ve come over the border and entered a bilingual country. In this particular city, Montreal, you may well get that impression. But this city is extremely atypical of this country… So it’s basically an English-speaking country, just as English-speaking as, I would guess, the northern part of the United States.”
- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.
Given the appointments of a unilingual auditor general and supreme court justice, as well as a communications director who didn’t speak any French, Angie Perischilli, you can bet he hasn’t changed his mind on those statements made when he was with the NCC. That is just scratching the surface.
What of the NDP? Tom Mulcair already has a delicate tight wire act where national unity is concerned. Somehow, I don’t see him able to wave the maple leaf alongside Stevie Spiteful– not without alienating that Quebec base Jack Layton started to build. Let’s remember that most of the NDP held ridings in La Belle Province are in traditional sovereigntist regions. Take it away, Mr. Wells!
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. I watched Alexa McDonough in 1999: she was all Quebec’s-right-to-decide-its-fate and 50%-plus-one-is-a-sufficient majority until the week Chrétien brought in the Clarity Act, and then the phone started ringing with messages from home. She didn’t have Quebec MPs, so McDonough was able to turn on a dime and vote for Clarity. Mulcair’s hand is different and he would watch his party snap like a twig.
Mulcair has already been on the record as saying flat out that he believes that the French language is in decline in La Belle Province and he does support Bill 101. How does he reconcile all of that with a so-called Captain Canada image?
As for the Liberals, well, they’ve been reduced to a handful of Montreal ridings which are already federalist strongholds (except for perhaps, Justin Trudeau’s riding of Papineau & perhaps if Denis Coderre were to leave as rumours suggest, Bourassa could well be open season).
Stephane Dion is seen as a traitor to Quebec because of the Clarity Act.
Irwin Cotler, Francis Scarpaleggia and Massimo Pacetti of St-Michel-St-Leonard are not really known personalities to Francophone Quebec, particularly outside of Montreal.
Perhaps Justin Trudeau, but his musings on a Radio-Canada radio show, sympathizing with Quebec sovereigntists in Harperland would be thrown back in his face. Even if it weren’t, how would it look after he specifically mused about sympathizing with separatists after Harper is doing his worst to the country and then, standing alongside the man, playing associate Captain Canada? An even bigger potential problem with the young Trudeau taking up the role of Captain Canada is that prominent separatists, who for the most part remember that constitution repatriation debacle with his father following the 1980 referendum–separatists would indeed have a field day. Also, Justin has been trying to appeal to younger voters both in Quebec and ROC and given that today’s youth really hate Stevie Spiteful, particularly in La belle province, friendly buddy poses in pictures with him posed with Harper would certainly drive his efforts backwards.
That leaves us with Denis Coderre of the Montreal North-East riding of Bourassa. He is fairly well known and fairly popular. However, rumour has it that he would resign his seat to run for the next municipal election to be mayor of Montreal. A potential referendum campaign (assuming La Marois and the PQ win a majority in the next provincial election) would likely be underway around the same time as the Montreal mayoral election. Theoretically, Quebec mayors are not supposed to really have an opinion on sovereignty v federalism. Although, this hasn’t been the case, while running to be mayor during a campaign, particularly with a referendum looming, one would try to stay neutral during their own bid for mayor.
Peter White, as I’ve mentioned is a prominent veteran Quebec Tory. He has been one of Harper’s harshest critics over recent years. He is part of that old Progressive Conservative faction. So many Harpercons would probably at the least minimize what he says today about Stevie. Regardless, Peter White is correct when he says that Quebecers really hate Stevie:
“People hate the guy,” said Peter White, a veteran Conservative organizer from Quebec’s Eastern Townships region. “They really hate him. They think he’s got horns and a tail and eats babies, and I’m sure Harper has no idea that this is the case.”
But White has also urged the government to recognize the importance of defending the French language, noting that the government could suffer if it fails to support legislation introduced by the NDP to require all officers of Parliament, including the auditor general, the ethics commissioner and the head of Elections Canada, to be functional in both of Canada’s official languages.
He also said the party needs to be more active in countering media reports about “idiotic caucus members” who say “something dumb” that winds up characterizing the party as a bunch of social conservatives.
Harper the bully, the Young NDP Quebec Caucus and the Potential Resurrection of the Bloc Quebecois
But Conservative MPs took aim at some of the younger members of the NDP Quebec caucus this week by challenging them to declare their support for Charest’s anti-protest law, adopted recently to quell social unrest after months of violent protests linked to a battle between students and the provincial government over post-secondary tuition-fee increases.
Left Leaning Quebec Anglophones
How times have changed since the 1995 referendum. Like myself, many left leaning Anglophones of Quebec would not be so ga ga giddy over federalism in Harperland. Here’s more from Andrea Levy following last year’s federal election:
The fact that the rest of the country gave Harper his sought-after majority will not sit well with those Québecers who feel — rightly — that they did their bit to forestall this outcome. The political cleavage between Québec and the rest of Canada is undeniable: less than 17% of Québec voters supported the Conservatives, while Tory support exceeded 40% in seven other provinces. To my mind, that’s a real recipe for a resurgence of sovereigntist sentiment. Already I see many of my friends and acquaintances feeling very bitter about the election result and seeing it as confirmation that Québec has no home in the Canadian federation. And this time around — and I think I’m not only speaking for myself here — anglo progressives may rally to that point of view. The more Harper imposes his right-wing Republican-style Christian evangelist agenda to transform Canada into a country indistinguishable from the United States, the less reason there will be not to take up the arduous and complex task of building an independent nation in Québec.
Stevie Spiteful Not so Credible on National Unity
I will end with this. How does Stevie Spiteful sell national unity, when he himself, was a signatory of an Alberta firewall letter to then Premier Ralph Klein in 2001? After all, what’s good for the goose should also be good for the gander.