The New Democrats have developed a sort of split personality that has them beating the drums for Quebec nationalists while in Quebec, but acting as staunch federalists elsewhere in the country. This came through loud and clear, as NDP leader Jack Layton and Deputy Leader Thomas Mulcair addressed members of their Quebec caucus at an NDP convention in Montreal on Saturday, May 28, 2011.
Desperate to consolidate May 2 gains by providing hard- and soft-separatists a permanent home for their political and cultural aspirations, Jack Layton will do whatever he must to woo their votes, and, if expedient, he’d dump Anglophones and their dwindling hopes for equality in Quebec without hesitation. In short, the NDP is becoming the new Bloc Québécois.
Useful idiots: a term used for those who are seen to unwittingly support a malignant cause through their “naive” attempts to be a force for good.
It’s crass politics, of course, and it stinks of hypocrisy, but a real danger exists that, in their zeal to whore for votes in Quebec, the New Democrats will become useful idiots to be exploited by hard-line nationalists for whom nothing but full sovereignty for Quebec will do.
Layton said the NDP will start by championing the cause of Quebec holding the same proportion of seats in the House of Commons that it currently does. This, of course, because Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is planning to increase the number of MPs in other provinces where the population has grown to the point that they are under-represented in the House—a move that would reduce the percentage of seats Quebec currently holds (Quebec currently has 75 of the 308 Commons seats or 24 per cent).
Under the Layton proposal, Quebec would be guaranteed 25 per cent of the seats in the House even if the population of that province sank to a much lower proportion of the Canadian population. In other words, kiss goodbye to representation by population, a fundamental principle of Canadian democracy.
Layton also repeated his commitment to accepting the results of a referendum on sovereignty, even if it was only 50 per cent plus one in favour of separation. So much for the rights of minorities in Quebec. Apparently, the NDP’s traditional support for minority rights stops at the Quebec border.
NDP Deputy Leader Thomas Mulcair took a stronger line than Layton as he outlined the NDP’s commitments for the province, promising to introduce policies that would protect the French language, saying:
“People who choose Quebec, because an immigrant is not forced to come to Quebec, needs to understand that they will need to learn French and so must their families, first and foremost.”
Even though he spoke only in French and described the NDP as federalists, Mulcair touted the NDP proposal to amend the Canadian labour code so workers in federal institutions such as banks and the telecommunication industry can work in French as much as provincial workers. The Bloc Québécois pressed for the same ends, but it proposed achieving them by amending the Official Languages Act to allow federal departments and federally regulated workplaces in Quebec to be unilingual.
Quebec nationalists have spoken: they’ve spurned the likes of Lucien Bouchard and Gilles Duceppe and have adopted Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair, useful idiots both.