Harper vs. the PQ: the element of surprise is key

by Paul Wells

Ten days after Quebecers elected a Parti Québécois government, the government of Stephen Harper began implementing its response today. The key elements:

• fond memories of two-century-old border skirmishes;

• blaming the Quebec government for caring about public health.

Boy, I’m pretty sure Pauline Marois never saw this coming.

 

At St.-Paul-de-l’Ile-aux-Noix, Quebec, the Prime Minister announced military honours will be bestowed on regiments that have links to those that served in the War of 1812. The PM’s comments:

“Canada’s victory in the War of 1812 was a pivotal point in the development of our great country,” said Prime Minister Harper. “During that war, the French, English and Aboriginal peoples took up arms together to achieve a common objective, to resist the American invasion. The ties our ancestors forged laid the foundations of a truly pan-Canadian identity and made our Confederation possible, a country of great diversity with two national languages.”

Later in the day, Industry Minister Christian Paradis, who’s doing a heck of a job, announced $50 million “to support the diversification of the economy of asbestos-producing communities due to the decision of the Premier-designate of Quebec [that's Marois - pw] to prohibit chrysotile mining in Quebec.”

(Here’s a handy backgrounder on Quebec’s asbestos industry from Jon Stewart and colleagues.)

“Mrs. Marois’s decision to prohibit chrysotile mining in Quebec will have a negative impact on the future prosperity of the area,” Paradis said, one presumes mournfully. “Right now, there are hundreds of workers in the region who do not have a job and live in uncertainty.”

If you’re like me, you’re hoping there are more quotes from Paradis blaming Marois for wanting to stop exports of a noxious substance that work crews are diligently and belatedly removing from Parliament’s West Block at this moment. And here are those quotes now. “Our region will have to live with the consequences of Mrs. Marois’s decision, but we will continue to work together on the continued economic development of the community,” Paradis said.

The best that can be said about military pageantry and lethal substances as key elements of a federal response to the election of a PQ government in Quebec is that they have never been tried before. Marois and her advisors will have produced contingency plans for every eventuality. Or so they thought. 

 




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Harper vs. the PQ: the element of surprise is key

  1. Maybe it’s because I’m a history buff and love tradition, but the War of 1812 stuff seems pretty benign to me. It’s symbolic, of course, but I’m not rolling my eyes too much at a PM’s invocation of the history of English-French cooperation and common cause in Canada.

    The asbestos thing is more groan inducing. That said, it’s good, imho, to help the people who’s livelihood will be affected by the ban, but the way the feds are framing it is somewhat cringe-inducing. As I mentioned elsewhere, it’s good to know for CERTAIN now that the government’s opposition to Rotterdam was never about science, or health, or doing what’s right, but that their sole focus was always jobs.

    • Jobs for Conservative MPs, I’m sure you meant to say.

      • Yes, not jobs…..votes.

  2. Yet another anti Conservative hit job. Wells is no doubt shooting for that cushy PR job with the NDP…

    • Actually, Conservatives in Ottawa quite like Wells. He is viewed as a pretty fair guy.

      • I’m quite conservative and I think he’s fair.

      • I am a crusty Catonian conservative, and I also view Wells as fair.

      • I am in the middle (my hatred of harper is only partly policy based and from his worst examples, mostly I dislike him for his hatred of democracy and blatant dishonesty) and I find Wells quite insightful.

    • In fact, he is an undercover péquiste. His real name is Paul Dupuis :)

    • Is that Norman?

    • @ British Columbia — the Federal government, Liberal or Conservative, has always supported the insupportible: Asbestos. The only reason? It’s a riding. I dislike Pauline Marois, and I detest her plans for my Province (I live here) but here she’s done the right thing, inside the Province. Wells is correct that the Federal Government pandering to a tiny riding buy defending a poison is lame — there are so many ways to harm the PQ’s idiotic policies, but the best they can do to harm Marois is to defend a toxic substance and the cancer-ridden area producing it? Really?!!

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