So much for Harper’s French-kissing skills



The graphic above, lifted from the Conservative website (hat tip to the indefatigable Elizabeth Thompson for pointing it out), is interesting for a couple reasons:

(1) It highlights just how much the Conservatives have relied on the Bloc to stay afloat in Ottawa. And…

(2) It shows just how much the Conservatives’ relationship with Quebecers has changed over the last couple of days.

During the election campaign, the Tories couldn’t emphasize enough the degree to which they’d catered to Quebecers’ whims, apparently going so far as to give above and beyond what the Bloc had actually been asking for. Now, we’re expected to believe that recognizing the mere presence of the séparatisses inside the halls of power is an exercise in treason and sedition.

It’s hard to underestimate the damage the Conservatives are doing to themselves in Quebec with their new line of reasoning. Tellingly, no political figure in the province—whether federalist or separatist—is willing to entertain Harper’s leap of logic. As far as credibility in the rest of Canada is concerned, it’s one thing to have Jacques Parizeau endorsing your demise. But it’s quite another to have John James Charest (aka Captain Canada) overtly accusing you of Quebec bashing.

The risks involved are as steep as they come. Harper’s first mandate had all the earmarks of beau risque politicking—the Québécois nation motion, the billion-dollar boost in transfers, the “we’re the real nationalists” stump speeches. What the Conservatives appear to have forgotten is that the Bloc’s very existence owes to the first time that strategy failed and it wouldn’t be a stretch to argue the 1995 referendum was direct outgrowth of that failure, too. Granted, no one’s stoked any Constitutional fires (yet). But the way things are going, it’s going to be mighty hard to convince some of the very same sovereignists who were around for Mulroney’s experiment that beau risque hasn’t failed again.


So much for Harper’s French-kissing skills

  1. Is it really the same thing having a signed agreement to support a government for 18 months versus on a case by case basis?

    It’s also quite another thing to work with the Bloc on a legislative basis versus inviting them to be a part of the executive branch of government.

  2. The Bloc would have no seats in the governing cabinet. We don’t have an ‘executive branch.’ That’s the US.

  3. “The Bloc would have no seats in the governing cabinet. We don’t have an ‘executive branch.”

    Cabinet and the PM are the executive branch. Having the Bloc in a formal signed agreement gives them direct access to the executive.

  4. The Bloc was never invited to be a part of the executive branch.

  5. Cabinet and the PM are the executive branch. Having the Bloc in a formal signed agreement gives them direct access to the executive.

    Uh, James, I have direct access to the executive branch. They don’t rule from a cave or a mountain somewhere or anything, they’ve got phones, and fax machines, and webpages. Ottawa’s not the moon.

    However if you’re suggesting that PM Harper and his cabinet ministers plan to never again accept phone calls from, or speak in person with Gilles Duceppe, or any MP from the Bloc Quebecois; that the plan is to completely cut of over 2 dozen MPs from the Prime Minister and his cabinet, then who do the Tories plan to govern with? The socialists, or Stephane Dion’s Liberals?

  6. “The Bloc was never invited to be a part of the executive branch.”

    On a formal basis no, in that they weren’t offered any cabinet positions – this would be wholly unacceptable to most Canadians. The Bloc would however exert influence on the executive in that for instance they would be active participants in joint caucus meetings.

  7. New massive Ekos poll shows Harper with 44% if election held today.

    Damaged? I don’t think so. Higher than Martin or Chretien ever commanded in an election season.

  8. James Munroe, the point of this post is to show that the Bloc has indeed been exercising influence on the Tory government. How could the Coalition one-up Harper on transfers to Quebec? At one point he literally handed Quebeckers $700 million, which went straight into their pockets as provincial tax cuts.

    Another reason they wouldn’t get Cabinet seats is that they don’t want them, as Duceppe has stated about 25 times.

  9. Lord Kitchener’s Own if you have direct access to the executive branch, you’re some special. Because since Harper became Prime Minister, the date, time, and place of Cabinet meetings has been kept secret. Media access to arrivals and departures to and from said meetings have been essentially outlawed, and Orders-in-Council which once featured prominently on the government’s web page have been buried. Yet another example of the kid gloves with which the media has treated this regime until now. If Jean Chretien or Paul Martin pulled any such stunt they’d have been lambasted. The Harper free ride continues.

  10. I think the conservatives have permanently damaged themselves in Quebec. I know 3 people in my family who are outraged and now deeply regret their Conservative vote in the last election. He’s managed in 1 week to make us hate him more than we dislike Stéphane Dion even. And, worst of all, my nationalists friend are talking about separation again, taking Stephen Harper’s attitude as proof that it is necessary. I have 2 words for Mr Harper : “conditions gagnantes” !

    Sébastien in Montréal

  11. Sébastien — If only your nationalist friends gave us ROC anti-Harperites credit! Do mention to them that there’s a big chunk of opinion in the ROC that thinks this anti-Quebec rhetoric is Harper’s definitive betrayal.

  12. A Conservative troll making sting up said:
    “The Bloc would however exert influence on the executive in that for instance they would be active participants in joint caucus meetings.”

    Respectfully James, can you stop making things up.

    I would give my first born if Conservatives stopped all the LYING that’s going on these days.

    The Bloc is NOT going to have joint caucus meetings under the coalition agreement. Maybe before commenting on it, you could, you know, READ IT.

  13. Next election is going to be interesting. This prorogue will no doubt deepen the divide felt in many parts of the country. It is easy to speculate on who will get hurt most but hopefuly people will wake up and pay more attention to the all the politicians and the unbelievably pathetic job they have done for years and years. It is long overdue to treat the taxpayers at least as equals to government workers, after all, they are paying for this fiasco.

  14. Sebastin
    Of course calling The Bloc separists is an affront to the people of La Belle Province. But what are the people of Quebec saying to the ROC by insisting on voting for a party whose stated goal is the break-up of Canada. Our response to your votes whenever he decides to retire: “Well Mr. Duceppe, here’s your indexed pension cheque for 136,000 dollars per year. Thank you for attempting to break-up our country, and we’re sure that you will find other useful ways to continue your work in your retirement.
    And you’re disgusted with being called separatists!!

  15. re ekos poll:

    Wait. I’m not good at math and stats, so correct me if I’m wrong. 44% PCC overall. 20% in Qc (4% margin of error, so beware). Let’s say QC=23% of population. So 20% of 23% means 4.6% of that 44% is in Qc.

    Wich means that in the ROC, the PCC stands at 40/77, wich means, uhhh… 52%?!

    Well, looks like Séparatiste Bashing (wich is understood in Québec as Québec-Bashing, but who cares, right?) is a winning strategy, eh?

    Oh well…

  16. John Charest is in the midst of a provincial election campaign, running against the local sovereignists. What else is he supposed to say? He’s been playing this game this federal bashing game since the last federal election. He wants to prove that he has a set.

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