Thomas Mulcair and Quebec - Macleans.ca

Thomas Mulcair and Quebec

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The NDP leader says he doesn’t expect another referendum and describes his approach to Quebec thusly.

“The NDP is a very strong federalist voice. We have always understood that you don’t just pay lip service to the differences. You work on them constructively,” Mulcair said, adding the surprising results of the 2011 federal election means there is a “pan-Canadian, federalist” party that holds the majority of seats in Quebec for the first time since the early 1990s.

Mulcair said that approach is recognized in the Sherbrooke Declaration, the policy paper that spells out the NDP position on asymmetrical federalism and what happens after a referendum on sovereignty. “It is a clear expression of the understanding that we can have asymmetrical federalism that takes into account the differences between the regions and the very specific differences between Quebec and the rest of Canada in terms of its civil law, its majority French language, its cultural differences, these are all things that can be worked on,” Mulcair said. “There is nothing divisive about that unless somebody wants to play politics with it and make it divisive. Where the NDP comes in, is we’re all about building bridges. We will let the other parties blow up those bridges,” Mulcair continued.

An anonymous NDP insider explains the situation to the Globe.

As one NDP strategist told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday, any defence by the NDP of PQ strategy will allow Prime Minister Stephen Harper to “attack Mr. Mulcair in English Canada for collaborating with separatists, while pointing to his [own] caucus of federalist Quebec MPs.”