Premier Pauline Marois declared this morning that Quebec voters will go the polls in a general election. The date is reportedly April 7 following a 33-day campaign.
Marois’s Parti Quebecois holds 54 seats in the legislature, nine short of a majority government, and is currently leading in polls, followed by Philippe Couillard’s Liberals and Francois Legault’s Coalition for Quebec’s Future.
Marois, according to media reports, has made it clear that her government’s proposed “charter of values” (Bill 60) will be key to her campaign. And, the way I see it, this may very well be the one issue to push the PQ over the finish line with a majority government.
Many outside Quebec seem in agreement that the charter of values as set forth by the PQ is divisive and just plain wrong. I believe, however, that among those that matter—i.e., Quebecers and especially French-speaking voters—a majority backs the secular charter.
The very real prospect of a PQ majority victory brings once again to mind the issue of Quebec independence, which many in the Rest of Canada seem to have assumed was a dead issue. It has now become, I fear, more of a question of “when” rather than “if” a referendum will be held to determine Quebec independence.
So, I ask myself, how do you feel now about a Canada without Quebec? And I answer without reservation that I believe Canada will be a better place if the country stays together.
Having said that, though, I believe there are fewer Canadians outside Quebec who agree with me than there were during the referendums in 1980 and 1995. Moreover, many of those who agree with me in principle are fed up with what they regard as Quebec’s carping at Canada and denigrating anything Canadian that is not overtly of Quebec.
Many, including myself, resent Quebec’s huge share of the annual federal equalization program ($7.833-billion in 2013-2014 fiscal year) and the fact it “receives $16.3-billion more from the federal government than it contributes to Ottawa”—this latter statistic according to federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Denis Lebel, himself a Quebecer.
Many of us also feel a certain fatigue brought on by the never-ending threat of another referendum rising and ebbing decade after decade. After a while, one can’t help but think, Go already! Yes, the unthinkable—Canada without Quebec—may just be inevitable, and so let’s do it now so we can start the healing process.
Has any province whined and complained and blackmailed the federal government as much a Quebec has? Has any province been as ungrateful for the contribution the Rest of Canada makes towards its financial wellbeing? Does any province try as hard as Quebec does to deny any sort of Canadian identity?
No, no and, again, no!
So, I say, what’s keeping you? Go if you must, but do it quickly and leave the rest of us in peace.
But lets be clear: should Quebec decide to go, there will be one heck of a backlash against that province, even if its accompanied by a huge collective sigh of relief to have finally gotten the independence issue over and done with.
And lets be clear: Canadians will not be supportive of extending citizenship to the residents of an independent Quebec, i.e., no Canadian passports. Nor will Canadians support the signing of special-status trade deals obliging us to, among other things, purchase their supply-managed products at above world prices.
And let’s be clear: Canadians will not be supportive of any further ties with Quebec other that arms-length trade deals, nor will Quebec have a say in Canada’s monitory policy should they decide to use the Canadian dollar, i.e., no joint commissions and the like.
It is high time that Quebec made a clear statement to the Rest of Canada regarding their continued role in our federation: are they in or out; all in or all out?