Poll: Canadians worry about separatists

Who knew?


“This is no time for backroom deals with the separatists,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper gravely intoned in his televised address to Canadians Wednesday night. And in the struggle for his government’s very survival, Harper’s repeated dire warnings about the corrosive effects the Bloc Québécois could have on federal politics appear to have hit a nerve.

A Léger Marketing poll released the same day found 41 per cent of respondents are “very concerned” by the prospect of a coalition government propped up by Quebec’s sovereignist federal party. A further 19 per cent conceded they were “somewhat concerned” with the notion. Not surprisingly, most of the opposition is concentrated outside Quebec. In fact, only 39 per cent of Quebecers expressed any concern at all; outside the province, that figure climbed to 70 per cent.

Under a deal reached on Monday between the opposition parties, a Liberal-NDP coalition would take over for the Conservative government with the expressed support of the Bloc, which has agreed not to vote it out of office for at least 18 months. The unusual accord nonetheless finds Gilles Duceppe propping up a government headed by Liberal leader Stéphane Dion, a man widely derided by sovereignists in Quebec for his singular role in promoting the Clarity Act. But Duceppe has defended the move as being “in the best interests of Quebec, of Quebecers during this time of economic difficulties.”

In return, Duceppe has asked that a Liberal-NDP government increase its transfers to his home province. The Bloc has requested $820-million in extra money for education, $400-500-million of which would come in its first budget. The remaining funds would be delivered the following year.

However, some prominent figures of the sovereignist movement aren’t impressed with the deal. Like Canadians outside Quebec, they would rather see the Bloc abstain from participating in the federal government. “When I voted for the Bloc in the last election,” writes Victor-Lévy Beaulieu, one of the province’s most celebrated and prolific authors, “it was above all because I didn’t want Stéphane Dion to become prime minister at any cost.”

But the Bloc Québécois might not have as tough a sales job as its opponents; both Pauline Marois and Jacques Parizeau have, after all, already endorsed the proposed coalition. The Conservatives, on the other hand, are finding themselves on the defensive over rumours about their own past dealings with sovereignists. According to a Globe report published Wednesday, under the leadership of Stockwell Day, the Canadian Alliance had once sought similar support from Duceppe’s party back in 2000–proof, perhaps, that while the Bloc might not have convinced Canadians of their usefulness, they appear to have convinced their rivals parties otherwise.


Poll: Canadians worry about separatists

  1. “Poll: Canadians worry about separatists”

    Man, you “jounralists” are lazy. Bone lazy.

  2. The title should have read “Poll: Canadians worry about separatists; Québec federalists worry about Canadians”

    Just look at Charest’s face these days and tell me he still thinks that circus is good for his chances of a re-election. If the coalition bombs before monday with MP saying they just couldn’t stand dealing with separatists wanting to destroy their country… Well…

  3. This is silly. The Bloc can’t do anything in Ottawa to advance separation.

    It’s the free-spending socialists – NDP and Bloc alike – that should scare the Canadian public witless.

  4. “This is silly. The Bloc can’t do anything in Ottawa to advance separation.”

    Congratulations sir, you are dumber than a bag of Stephen Ledrews. Now, I will grant that the typical case that the Bloc will screw Canada is ill-founded. I present three reasons, however, why the Bloc should be feared (let me say also that I would have been dead-set against a Bloc-Conservative alliance in 2000 or 2004).

    1. The Bloc being part of a governing coalition (and read the text of the agreement, they’re part of the coalition) gives them the experience of acting as a national government. One of the best arguments federalists have is that of, as Dion argues in his academic work, confidence: “if you secede you will fail because you do not have any experience running a national government.” When Martin started musing about the financial repercussions of secession in the referendum, this is what he was talking about.

    2. The chaos that the Bloc has created – perpetual minority governments – is an argument for secession in and of itself. When this coalition fails, and it will (probably when the Bloc pulls the plug), you can bet that Pauline Marois’ response will be: “see Quebec, Canada’s national government can’t get anything done. In the face of an economic crisis, we need a government that can get past the gridlock.” And she will be essentially correct.

    3. The right of my preferred party tends to fear the Bloc more as an extraction machine pulling Ottawa’s dollars into Quebec. I don’t think that is the Bloc’s primary aim, however. Rather, they seek to create manufactured crises (like the fiscal imbalance debate), where Ottawa rejects them. They have never been satisfied with the level of transfers to Quebec. Asking for more and getting turned down is what Bloc politicians WANT, because it gives them a national grievance they can rally the troops with. The coalition is a problem because it enables the Bloc to increasingly escalate their demands – but if you think they will be satisfied by Layton and Dion, you are sorely mistaken.

  5. stewacide,

    “It’s the free-spending socialists

    You truly need a history lesson. Unless you think George W. Bush is a socialist, or Brian Mulroney embraced socialism during his time as PM — in which case, a history lesson won’t help.

  6. archangel: The NDP-Liberal-Bloc have already put their spending plans in writing! $30 in ‘stimulus’, much of which will last forever (e.g. unemployment benefit increases)