Tag Archives: Parti Quebecois

Annual Habs Cultural Concern Renders Separatism a Joke

By Jason Menard

You know the best way to tell that hockey season’s right around the corner? It’s not by using something so frivolous as a calendar, or even charting the stars. No, the best way is to wait for the rite of passage that is the Annual Clueless Quebecer Complaining About a Lack of Francophones on the Roster of Les Habitants.

Hey, guess what? It’s hockey season. Know why? Because Pierre Curzi’s gone on the record discussing the Montreal Canadiens’ lack of French-Canadian content on the roster. Continue reading

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Federal Liberals May Be Buoyed by Landry’s Resignation

By Jason Menard

Navigating through the murky waters of a minority government and weighed down by the anchor that is the Gomery inquiry, Paul Martin has just been thrown a life preserver by the least-likely source possible.

Mr. Prime Minister, next time you’re in your home riding of Ville Emard, make sure you make a side trip to say merci to Mr. Bernard Landry.

The Parti Quebecois’ leader decided this weekend to step down after receiving a less-than-enthusiastic 76.2 per cent support from the party’s delegates during its leadership review. His decision to gracefully step away leaves a void in separatist leadership – a void that would probably best be filled by one man, Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe.

The lure of the PQ post may be too much for Duceppe to resist. While politicians for other parties often look to move from provincial politics to the federal ranks, Quebec separatists know the true seat of separatist power doesn’t lie on Parliament Hill – it is firmly entrenched in Quebec City’s National Assembly.

The call of the PQ leadership is enticing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Duceppe could take control of a party that is not in power. Quebec Liberal leader Jean Charest is under no obligation to 2008 and is not exactly enjoying exalted status in the province.

The Parti Quebecois is at its most effective when it doesn’t have to worry about little things like actually running a province. Without the distractions caused by the compromises and sacrifices that a ruling Party needs to make to effectively govern a province, Duceppe could ride his wave of popularity back into the province and spend the next three years promoting the sovereigntist cause without actually having to be accountable for anything. He could use his gift for rhetoric and charisma to chip away at the ruling Liberal government and to build momentum for the separatist movement.

And Quebecers’ collective memories are long. With a federal government in turmoil, a provincial Liberal party that’s struggling to make inroads with the soft separatists, the PQ is poised for a return to power – and Duceppe knows that it may be time to strike while the iron is hot. Who else has the record and the charisma to take the reins? Certainly not Pauline Marois and her $400,000 taxpayer-funded renovated bathrooms (complete with silent toilets). Anyone else is just a pretender to the throne should Duceppe decide to accept his coronation.

After all, how much more can he do on the federal level? He has shown that he is a competent statesman and an effective thorn in the side of the government. He has displayed the poise and grace that his federal counterparts only wish they could — Duceppe’s performances in the two national debates left his three opponents choking in his exhaust. And he’s raised the profile of the Bloc, with the help of some Liberal blundering, to lofty heights. A virtual sweep of the province of Quebec would be almost assured in the next federal election should he remain at the helm.

But therein lies the problem. By leaving the federal forum for the provincial arena, Duceppe would be filling one void only to create another. A fall federal election would likely coincide with a fall PQ leadership convention. Duceppe would have to make the choice, and should he make the politically savvy move to provincial politics, he would leave his federal party struggling to find a leader in its time of need – a scenario that would play right into the Liberals hands.

The Bloc and the PQ are parties that thrive on charisma. Rene Levesque had it, Lucien Bouchard had it, and Duceppe has shown he has it as well. But there’s no one else on the horizon that displays the same je-ne-sais-quoi that the position requires. And the loss of that X-factor on the federal level could make the difference in a handful of ridings – which could make all the difference in a fall federal election.

The ideal situation for separatists is to convince Landry to retake the reigns and guide his party through the coming federal election. With no provincial vote on the horizon, there is no urgency for a change in leadership. Landry could steward the PQ through the federal election, which would allow Duceppe to focus on continuing the momentum the Bloc has enjoyed up to now.

After the election, Landry could announce his resignation and Duceppe could, at that time, ride in on his white horse to spin his magic with the provincial party. But would Landry be able to subjugate his pride for the betterment of his party? That’s a question only he can answer.

If he doesn’t, then Prime Minister Martin should make sure Landry’s added to his special Christmas card list – along with Belinda Stronach – of former adversaries who have helped keep his government afloat.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Quebec Win an Opportunity for Both Sides

By Jason Menard

Monday’s landslide victory for the Quebec Liberal Party, while significant, should not be considered the death knell for separatism in the province of Quebec. In fact, if the right cards aren’t played, future generations looking back at this week’s election may see it as the watershed moment for a renewed sovereigntist movement.

The separatist forces within Quebec find themselves at a crossroads. Its leadership is aging and the youth of Quebec – and even some soft-separatists – have found a more comfortable fit within Mario Dumont’s Action Démocratique party.

The separatist movement is in dire need of an infusion of youth and fresh ideas to deal with the realities of the 21 st century. Ironically, it could be the actions of the new Liberal government that could provide that new infusion of youth.

Historically, separatism flourishes in times where the PQ is not in government. The party is better able to concentrate on its raison d’etre and not be bogged down with more difficult issues such as balancing a budget or improving health care.

A number of factors led to the PQ’s current loss, ranging from residual resentment over forced mergers, union disenchantment, and lack of faith in the leadership. The PQ was strongest with charismatic leaders such as Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard – suffice to say Bernard Landry did not captivate the masses in the same way as they, or even Mario Dumont, did.

However, the electorate’s political memories are short. These next few years of Liberal government are key. Mismanagement or public relations nightmares akin to those of their federal counterparts could spark a groundswell of disenchantment in voters, which could be quickly fanned into a blaze of anti-federalist sentiment within the youth of Quebec.

While good government may be the mantra, the reality of the situation is that the underlying causes of Quebec separatist feeling are still there. While French-English equality is greatly improved in the province itself, the essential fact of the matter is that French Canadians are still surrounded by an overwhelming sea of English. Consider the concerns Canadians as a whole have in protecting their culture from the overwhelming American influence, and now transfer that to an even smaller population of French-speaking people warding off the influences of English on their culture in this day and age where borders are disappearing courtesy of a number of influences, ranging from the Internet to Television.

If the provincial Liberals aren’t able to satisfy the needs of the masses, then we could see a startling reversal of fortune during the next election. Which is why it’s important for Jean Charest to separate himself (no pun intended) from his federal brethren and be almost belligerent in his efforts to bring to the fore the needs and desires of the Quebec population to the extent where he must be more pro-Quebec than even his PQ predecessors. Anything less, regardless of the intent, will be seen as a weakness by those soft federalists and separatists who donned Liberal red this election.

It is also important that the rest of Canada does not take an out-of-sight-out-of-mind attitude towards Quebec. While the majority of people outside of Quebec may have finally breathed a sigh of relief, it’s important for Canadians across the country to continue to work towards improving relations with Quebec. They say a watched pot never boils, and by maintaining a focus on Quebec, federalists as a whole can work to prevent separatist sentiments from bubbling up.

By no means does this mean acquiescing to all of Quebec’s demands, but rather it does mean that we now need to move away from a confrontational style of negotiation between the provinces to a more open concept rooted in mutual understanding and support. There also needs to be a fundamental understanding and appreciation of the role culture plays in each society.

There are those that will apply the overly simplistic Darwinian theory on cultural survival, essentially stating that society should be able to be stand on its own two feet and survive on its own without outside aid. However, we live in a more enlightened age wherein it’s hopeful that we as a country have come to a point where we see how we benefit from being a bilingual nation, with two strong yet distinct societies living under one flag.

If Canada is truly worth working for, then now is not the time to rest, but to redouble our efforts as a whole for the future.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved