Who will save us now (part III)?

Barring a miracle, we are about to enter the third cycle of Parti Québécois government in Quebec

I wrote this some days ago, but before I could post, Jeff Simpson’s column appeared on a similar theme. But since no one’s responded to his piece, I’ll pick up where he left off:

Here’s a subject I don’t imagine any of the party leaders will want to bring up — but someone really should. That is, who among them is best placed to deal with the coming crisis in Quebec?

Sometime in the next couple of years a provincial election will be called (the last was in Dec. 2008, so in theory they could push it off into 2013). On present levels of support, the Liberals haven’t a prayer. Which means that, barring a miracle, we are about to enter the third cycle of Parti Québécois government. In each of the first two, 1976-1984 and 1994-2003, the PQ launched a referendum on separation-with-association, and while the Clarity Act may be thought to have placed some boundaries around the debate — the province can hold a referendum on any subject it likes, but the feds are constrained in what they can negotiate — it must be expected the Péquistes will try every trick in the book, up to an including a quickie referendum. This is, after all, very likely their last shot.

So, on the perhaps shaky assumption that whomever we elect on May 2 is still Prime Minister then, it really would seem timely to ask: Which of the parties and their leaders is the best choice to deal with this situation? Who best combines finesse and toughness, understanding of Quebec and fire in the belly for Canada? Will it be the Anglophone from Toronto who wanted to build a firewall around Alberta? Or the Anglophone from Toronto who was out of the country for 30-odd years? What about the Anglophone from Toronto whose party is rumoured to be conspiring with the Bloc to defeat federalist candidates in the Montreal area?

Certainly no clear federalist choice has emerged in the province. While all three national parties have been pandering as fast as they can — Look here! An arena! No, an airport! What about these snowmobile trails, huh? — each is mired around 20% in the polls. Meaning the Bloc will likely take about 50 seats, as usual. Suppose Duceppe then retires from federal politics, to replace — as many Péquistes hope — the unpopular Pauline Marois as PQ leader. If recent polls are any guide, he’d sweep the province. And facing him? A shattered, leaderless provincial Liberal party in Quebec City, and a hung Parliament in Ottawa — possibly with the Bloc holding the balance of power.

As I say, I doubt any of the leaders will be anxious to raise this question. They don’t want to be seen to write off Charest, they don’t want to stir the pot, whatever. But the rest of us should certainly be thinking about it.




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Who will save us now (part III)?

  1. "As I say, I doubt any of the leaders will be anxious to raise this question. "

    If the choice is between Harper and Ignatieff on this file, the answer is 'none of the above.' The thought of either of these guys in charge in the midst of referendum is equal parts depressing and frightening.

  2. Thanks for that little bit of sunshine, Andrew. While I'd put on my rose-coloured glasses and make the unwarranted assumption that a true federalist nation-builder will come out of any of the three major federalist parties, my pragmatic side would tend to agree with you that–no matter what–there will be no truly elegant solution to the next Quebec crisis. We can only hope that an inelegant solution is found, instead of a truly ugly one.

  3. "As I say, I doubt any of the leaders will be anxious to raise this question. "

    If the choice is between Harper and Ignatieff on this file, the answer is 'none of the above.' The thought of either of these guys in charge in the midst of referendum is equal parts depressing and frightening.

  4. Stephane Dion!

    • I can think of no better answer.

      • That's because you can't think!

        • So who would do better? Hmmm?

    • Man, that guy writes a mean letter.

    • Bravo!

    • Ahhhhhhh… the nit-wit from France.

  5. Stephane Dion!

  6. If we get a Liberal majority, it's Alberta that will be separatist.

    • They already are…their man in Ottawa is sliding it in the back door.

      • Totally agree…ol' Firewalls Steve is hard at work on it.

    • Actually, most Albertans would be far more sanguine about a Liberal majority (which almost certainly AIN'T gonna happen) than they would be about a Liberal-NDP duo a la 1974, or a Liberal-NDP-Bloc arrangement. Think about it.

      • It's that kind of paranoid thinking that will lead to Alberta separating.

    • funny how the people who whined loudest about Quebecers loud whining to get what they wanted are now the loudest whiners to get what they want (or they take their toys and go home)

      • Yes, they knock Quebec for it, and then do it themselves.

  7. If we get a Liberal majority, it's Alberta that will be separatist.

  8. I'm pretty sure Jack Layton would be best described as an Anglophone from Montreal who is soon going to be replaced by a bilingual from Gatineau.

    • He always just wanted to be Leader and knew that he was considered too "anglo" to ever be Leader of the LPQ (same goes fro MacLean's blogger and Agent-général à New York, John Parisella).

      By switching to the Dippers he knew he would have his shot.

  9. I'm pretty sure Jack Layton would be best described as an Anglophone from Montreal who is soon going to be replaced by a bilingual from Gatineau.

  10. Andrew, any thoughts about Francois Legault? Polls show if he leads a new Quebec party, he’d win a majority.

    I’m holding out hope that he’ll start a new party before 2013.

    And this wouldn’t be Dumont-ADQ redux. Legault is well respected, with plenty of high profile cabinet experience. He’s likely to draw many experienced and respected pols to his new party, unlike the ADQ’s list of inexperienced nobodies.

    Besides, isn’t Duceppe getting up there in terms of age? Will he still have enough energy to lead the PQ in 2013?

  11. Is this another argument for a stable Majority government? I think so.

    • There is nothing stable about Harper. Although if he gains a couple more pounds/kilograms he's not likely to fall over.

  12. Andrew, any thoughts about Francois Legault? Polls show if he leads a new Quebec party, he’d win a majority.

    I’m holding out hope that he’ll start a new party before 2013.

    And this wouldn’t be Dumont-ADQ redux. Legault is well respected, with plenty of high profile cabinet experience. He’s likely to draw many experienced and respected pols to his new party, unlike the ADQ’s list of inexperienced nobodies.

    Besides, isn’t Duceppe getting up there in terms of age? Will he still have enough energy to lead the PQ in 2013?

  13. Is this another argument for a stable Majority government? I think so.

  14. I can think of no better answer.

  15. So many fearsome things .. coalitions .. separatists … and,of course, socialists ..

    It's a terrible burden you bear, Mr. Coyne.

  16. So many fearsome things .. coalitions .. separatists … and,of course, socialists ..

    It's a terrible burden you bear, Mr. Coyne.

  17. I`ll respond with the same post as I made to this http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/10/15/a-canadian-dre… six months or so ago:

    Of course Gilles is right. Repeated (failed) referendums are just another mechanism for maintaining Quebec's preferred place in Confederation. That aside, I propose a small thought experiment….

    Who – Harper or Iggy – is apt to make the most formidable federalist PM in the next referendum? Or, put another another way: which of them would be the better leader of a federalist team?

    I'll start by suggesting that despite all his weaknesses and personal flaws, Harper is the superior politician and thus likely the better federalist leader in a referendum. Apart from the serious self-loathing which is now setting in for writing that last sentence, my main concerns with "federalist team leader Harper" are (a) whether in his heart he would want to win and (b) would he see personal opportunity – say, CPC majority – in the the loss of QC. Of course one can argue the opposite of (b) at least as well.

    Eeeew.

    I'm going to shower now, you guys discuss…

    Election and intervening events notwithstanding, I'm still so inclined. However, I have to say SH's icy tending to zombie demeanor last week has me reevaluating.

    • Perhaps Harper ought to consider an Advocacy Program to "raise awareness of the Government of Canada's contributions to Quebec industries and other activities." ;-)

    • Looking back on 1995, however, we saw Jean Charest emerge as the unofficial 'federalist team leader', not Chretien. Could be that someone other than Harper/Ignatieff comes to the federalist rescue. At least, a guy can hope…

      • Bernard Lord?

        • Perhaps but he is considered a Néo-brunswickois.

          If Martin Cauchon beats Mulcair he might be the one. Certainly not Denis Coderre and Justin is too green and too hated (by the sépératissssse) to be the Leader (a very able asset though).

          I'm drawing a blank for now.

  18. I`ll respond with the same post as I made to this http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/10/15/a-canadian-dre… six months or so ago:

    Of course Gilles is right. Repeated (failed) referendums are just another mechanism for maintaining Quebec's preferred place in Confederation. That aside, I propose a small thought experiment….

    Who – Harper or Iggy – is apt to make the most formidable federalist PM in the next referendum? Or, put another another way: which of them would be the better leader of a federalist team?

    I'll start by suggesting that despite all his weaknesses and personal flaws, Harper is the superior politician and thus likely the better federalist leader in a referendum. Apart from the serious self-loathing which is now setting in for writing that last sentence, my main concerns with "federalist team leader Harper" are (a) whether in his heart he would want to win and (b) would he see personal opportunity – say, CPC majority – in the the loss of QC. Of course one can argue the opposite of (b) at least as well.

    Eeeew.

    I'm going to shower now, you guys discuss…

    Election and intervening events notwithstanding, I'm still so inclined. However, I have to say SH's icy tending to zombie demeanor last week has me reevaluating.

  19. Perhaps Harper ought to consider an Advocacy Program to "raise awareness of the Government of Canada's contributions to Quebec industries and other activities." ;-)

  20. Looking back on 1995, however, we saw Jean Charest emerge as the unofficial 'federalist team leader', not Chretien. Could be that someone other than Harper/Ignatieff comes to the federalist rescue. At least, a guy can hope…

  21. Quebec isn't going anywhere considering its debt situation.

    The European debt crisis has demonstrated that a country without its own currency (Greece, Ireland, Portugal) become debt slaves of larger powers. Greek, Irish, and Portuguese taxpayers are enduring harsh austerity to bail out French and German banks.

    So currency will be an issue this time around in the sovereignty debate. The Canadian dollar, the US dollar, or the euro, all leave Quebec facing the fate of Greece, Ireland, or Portugal, facing a deflationary depression where they risk debt slavery. Will Quebecers be willing to give up their Canadian dollars for a new currency.

    But it will never get to that point this time, because world bond vigilantes will begin to attack Quebec and Canada in the bond markets as soon as referendum talk gets serious, and credit default swap spreads on Canada, provincial, and Quebec debt wlll blow out throwly Canada into recession, and our governments and crown corporations like Hydro Quebec will begin facing funding challenges.

    The global economic crisis has made it suicide for Quebec to contemplate sovereignty.

    • I think that is desperately wishful thinking. The PQ/BQ can and will easily make QC's debt RoC's fault. Hell they do it every day even now.

      Referendums in QC are emotional vehicles not rational economic discussions. The debt issue will not preclude a referendum nor even be a significant issue until post-referendum negotiations.

      • Yep, Canada might be stuck with Quebec's share of the national debt. But Quebec's debt and Hydro Quebec's debt is their own debt. And Quebec would be facing a structural deficit without equalization payments, and without its own currency at the mercy of the international bond markets.

        But the Canadian economy will be in a deep recession and most governments federal and provincial with serious funding problems not long after referendum talk gets serious.

        Nonsense is no longer tolerated by the global bond markets.

        As soon as the prospect of a referendum becomes certain. Quebec and Canada will begin sliding into an accelerating economic and debt crisis.

        • I agree, it's different now than it was in '95: sovereign debt crises (and not just among 3rd world countries) are actually something people have seen for real, AND the Canadian dollar is a strong currency. Spun the right way, these facts would scare a lot of Quebecois.

        • Back to Andrew's question… TeamRoC may well need a one leader for the referendum and another for the post-loss negotiations. (The latter may be a given, I cannot imagine many PM's staying in office after losing a referendum.)

          Either way, winning a referendum and winning the negotiation that would follow a loss seem two entirely different leadership skill sets. The former calls for a charismatic but tough politician honestly and visibly willing to defend a Canada he/she loves; the latter for a take no prisoners, near despot ready to destroy QC economically if necessary to protect the RoC.

          You are certainly right about the economic turmoil we're in for, however.

          • Remember, there are 11 leaders at the negotiation table post-separation.

            (Sadly, I think the best result of the negotiations would be enough provinces and the feds meet secretly to agree to amend the constitution to disallow separation).

    • thanks for the insight, which I think is pretty perceptive and a welcome change from the normal partisan bickering on these boards.

  22. Quebec isn't going anywhere considering its debt situation.

    The European debt crisis has demonstrated that a country without its own currency (Greece, Ireland, Portugal) become debt slaves of larger powers. Greek, Irish, and Portuguese taxpayers are enduring harsh austerity to bail out French and German banks.

    So currency will be an issue this time around in the sovereignty debate. The Canadian dollar, the US dollar, or the euro, all leave Quebec facing the fate of Greece, Ireland, or Portugal, facing a deflationary depression where they risk debt slavery. Will Quebecers be willing to give up their Canadian dollars for a new currency.

    But it will never get to that point this time, because world bond vigilantes will begin to attack Quebec and Canada in the bond markets as soon as referendum talk gets serious, and credit default swap spreads on Canada, provincial, and Quebec debt wlll blow out throwly Canada into recession, and our governments and crown corporations like Hydro Quebec will begin facing funding challenges.

    The global economic crisis has made it suicide for Quebec to contemplate sovereignty.

  23. I think that is desperately wishful thinking. The PQ/BQ can and will easily make QC's debt RoC's fault. Hell they do it every day even now.

    Referendums in QC are emotional vehicles not rational economic discussions. The debt issue will not preclude a referendum nor even be a significant issue until post-referendum negotiations.

  24. Bernard Lord?

  25. I think it all depends on how the ROC starts dealing with the issue right now.

    If the ROC seems overly eager to let Quebec play the victim, I would say they have a chance for pushing things to the limit.

    If we don't pay too much attention, I believe Quebecers will not be so hasty to leave. Quebecers are sensible people. The understand that no matter what, either as part of Canada or on their own, life will never be perfect. And as long as Canada can convey that message in return, I don't think there will be an upcoming problem to deal with.

    Quebecers have the power to protect and nurture their own culture. All cultures are changing, not just theirs. It's part of life.

  26. I think it all depends on how the ROC starts dealing with the issue right now.

    If the ROC seems overly eager to let Quebec play the victim, I would say they have a chance for pushing things to the limit.

    If we don't pay too much attention, I believe Quebecers will not be so hasty to leave. Quebecers are sensible people. The understand that no matter what, either as part of Canada or on their own, life will never be perfect. And as long as Canada can convey that message in return, I don't think there will be an upcoming problem to deal with.

    Quebecers have the power to protect and nurture their own culture. All cultures are changing, not just theirs. It's part of life.

  27. They already are…their man in Ottawa is sliding it in the back door.

  28. This campaign shows that a simple message which favours the past over present circumstances, repeated enough despite all arguments to the contrary, can be very effective.

    "We want our own firewall, like Harper said!" would be the point he would be unable to defeat.

    • If you were to actually READ the firewall letter, and compare it to what Quebec already has in place, you would know that all Harper would have to say is "you already DO."

      The Firewall Letter suggested AB get it's own pension plan (like the QPP), manage its own immigration files (like Quebec does), have it's own police force (like both Quebec and Ontario do), raise cash for healthcare through provincial tax points (like Quebec does). The only thing listed in that letter that Quebec DOESN'T have (or probably CARE to have as it would put some balance in the Senate to counteract Quebec's guaranteed number of seats in the House regardless of population decline) is a triple E senate – elected, equal and effective – the same number of seats for each province, regularly scheduled elections, etc.

      Read it here, if you don't believe me. http://www.cbc.ca/canadavotes2004/leadersparties/

      • Much like Harper's coalition line, it doesn't have to have anything to do with facts or content.

        If you want to believe "How does an Alberta separatist have the moral authority to talk to Quebec about staying in Canada", you will believe it. Keep repeating it so others join in!

        • Don't bother Candace. This Liberal hack is not susceptible to reason. Say Mike Troll, how much was your last paycheque from Liberal Party Headquarters? Just wondering how well their compensating you for the job your doing of making yourself look like a complete buffoon. LOL!

  29. This campaign shows that a simple message which favours the past over present circumstances, repeated enough despite all arguments to the contrary, can be very effective.

    "We want our own firewall, like Harper said!" would be the point he would be unable to defeat.

  30. Between the two, Ignatieff – he can speak French.

    • no.

  31. Between the two, Ignatieff – he can speak French.

  32. Yep, Canada might be stuck with Quebec's share of the national debt. But Quebec's debt and Hydro Quebec's debt is their own debt. And Quebec would be facing a structural deficit without equalization payments, and without its own currency at the mercy of the international bond markets.

    But the Canadian economy will be in a deep recession and most governments federal and provincial with serious funding problems not long after referendum talk gets serious.

    Nonsense is no longer tolerated by the global bond markets.

    As soon as the prospect of a referendum becomes certain. Quebec and Canada will begin sliding into an accelerating economic and debt crisis.

  33. Totally agree…ol' Firewalls Steve is hard at work on it.

  34. I'm not really sure what the big deal is. Quebec isn't actually going anywhere…we lack the technology to move masses of land that large. So if they decide to separate, we negotiate whatever we negotiate with them…which is likely to be as fair and equitable as the current arrangement…and life goes on.

    Of course if you really want to win Quebec over and encourage them to stay, toning down the anti-Quebec rhetoric (sometimes thinly veiled as anti-Bloc rhetoric) spewing from the western wing of the Conservative party would be a good start.

    • "Of course if you really want to win Quebec over and encourage them to stay, toning down the anti-Quebec rhetoric (sometimes thinly veiled as anti-Bloc rhetoric) spewing from the western wing of the Conservative party would be a good start."

      On the other hand, if you really are sick and tired of the separation "threat" Quebec trots out every decade or so to blackmail whatever it can get out of the RoC, such that you've ceased to care about "win(ning) Quebec over and encourag(ing) them to stay", expressing that sentiment seems prudent, notwithstanding the risk it will be regarded as the spewing of anti-Quebec rhetoric by some.

    • If I understand Andrew's long standing position on Quebec nationalism correctly, I'm sure he'd say the danger is not separation, which is very unlikely if not downright impossible, but the compromise we make to avoid separation, which will make the current arrangement quite a bit less fair and equitable.

  35. I'm not really sure what the big deal is. Quebec isn't actually going anywhere…we lack the technology to move masses of land that large. So if they decide to separate, we negotiate whatever we negotiate with them…which is likely to be as fair and equitable as the current arrangement…and life goes on.

    Of course if you really want to win Quebec over and encourage them to stay, toning down the anti-Quebec rhetoric (sometimes thinly veiled as anti-Bloc rhetoric) spewing from the western wing of the Conservative party would be a good start.

  36. Actually, most Albertans would be far more sanguine about a Liberal majority (which almost certainly AIN'T gonna happen) than they would be about a Liberal-NDP duo a la 1974, or a Liberal-NDP-Bloc arrangement. Think about it.

    • Heh.

    • Money, the ethnic vote, and a Yeti hurling a human hockey puck.

  37. I agree, it's different now than it was in '95: sovereign debt crises (and not just among 3rd world countries) are actually something people have seen for real, AND the Canadian dollar is a strong currency. Spun the right way, these facts would scare a lot of Quebecois.

  38. It's that kind of paranoid thinking that will lead to Alberta separating.

  39. Man, that guy writes a mean letter.

  40. What's the evidence that Duceppe would sweep the province if he moved to Quebec provincial politics? We are talking about the guy who enter provincial politics for one day, before being scared away by Marois. We are also talking about a guy who has barely managed to keep his party close to 40% in the polls. These are certainly not the stuff of electoral legend.

    Put it this way, Duceppe managed in Quebec that same popular vote that Harper has managed nationally, 37%. His strength in seat distribution is not because he has some spectacular popularity, it's entirely due to the splits among the federalist parties.

    • Duceppe is the most popular sovereigntist in the province by far. And those numbers you are quoting don't tell the whole story. If you are quoting province-wide numbers, that likely includes the staunchly federalist parts of Montreal and the Eastern Townships, where Bloc support is somewhere between nil and zero. The real story is the level of support for the Bloc amongst francophones, not allophones or anglophones.

      By that metric, the PQ and the Bloc alike are far ahead of their nearest rivals, despite support for sovereignty being at a 30 year low. That should give any federalist some pause.

      • But doesn't this suggest that the PQ winning an election would not necessarily lead to a referendum victory? Couldn't it be that there is a large number of Quebecois willing to vote for the PQ and BQ (especially given the current alternative), but who would, ultimately, vote against sovereignty in a referendum?

        And that's leaving aside the "in a multi-party election, 40% can equal a massive majority" issue (which we see with the BQ in federal politics). In all likelihood, the PQ government would have the support of only a plurality of Quebecois, meaning a referendum would be even less likely to succeed.

        Honestly, I don't see why the PQ is so eager to have another referendum. It seems pretty obvious that it will lose. I get the sense that many of the top dogs in the party (e.g., Marois) realize this and want to put it off, but are basically being pressured from below (hence her flip-flopping on the issue).

    • Anecdotally, though, Duceppe is pretty popular. I mean, I'm an anglo in Montreal qui ne peut pas apprendre le francais, and I even like the guy. I think he's got more goodwill here than you're giving him credit for.

      • Sure, he's inoffensive to you, but popular? What's the basis for that conclusion? His party is at about 37% in most polls. It's possible that his personal approval numbers are higher, but that's largely because he has no responsibilities.

        I recall Bouchard's popularity also coming back to earth once he left the Bloc and became leader of the PQ.

  41. What's the evidence that Duceppe would sweep the province if he moved to Quebec provincial politics? We are talking about the guy who enter provincial politics for one day, before being scared away by Marois. We are also talking about a guy who has barely managed to keep his party close to 40% in the polls. These are certainly not the stuff of electoral legend.

    Put it this way, Duceppe managed in Quebec that same popular vote that Harper has managed nationally, 37%. His strength in seat distribution is not because he has some spectacular popularity, it's entirely due to the splits among the federalist parties.

  42. Back to Andrew's question… TeamRoC may well need a one leader for the referendum and another for the post-loss negotiations. (The latter may be a given, I cannot imagine many PM's staying in office after losing a referendum.)

    Either way, winning a referendum and winning the negotiation that would follow a loss seem two entirely different leadership skill sets. The former calls for a charismatic but tough politician honestly and visibly willing to defend a Canada he/she loves; the latter for a take no prisoners, near despot ready to destroy QC economically if necessary to protect the RoC.

    You are certainly right about the economic turmoil we're in for, however.

  43. To be fair, the Alberta firewall that Harper wanted to build was based on the Quebec model.

    More seriously, two guys that went out and made themselves bilingual and have a passion for the country aren't bad choices to choose between. Also, pragmatically, who's to say that Charest or his successor would let them near any sort of leadership of the referendum (recall the reasons for Chretien's late entry in '95).

  44. To be fair, the Alberta firewall that Harper wanted to build was based on the Quebec model.

    More seriously, two guys that went out and made themselves bilingual and have a passion for the country aren't bad choices to choose between. Also, pragmatically, who's to say that Charest or his successor would let them near any sort of leadership of the referendum (recall the reasons for Chretien's late entry in '95).

  45. Duceppe is the most popular sovereigntist in the province by far. And those numbers you are quoting don't tell the whole story. If you are quoting province-wide numbers, that likely includes the staunchly federalist parts of Montreal and the Eastern Townships, where Bloc support is somewhere between nil and zero. The real story is the level of support for the Bloc amongst francophones, not allophones or anglophones.

    By that metric, the PQ and the Bloc alike are far ahead of their nearest rivals, despite support for sovereignty being at a 30 year low. That should give any federalist some pause.

  46. He always just wanted to be Leader and knew that he was considered too "anglo" to ever be Leader of the LPQ (same goes fro MacLean's blogger and Agent-général à New York, John Parisella).

    By switching to the Dippers he knew he would have his shot.

  47. Perhaps but he is considered a Néo-brunswickois.

    If Martin Cauchon beats Mulcair he might be the one. Certainly not Denis Coderre and Justin is too green and too hated (by the sépératissssse) to be the Leader (a very able asset though).

    I'm drawing a blank for now.

  48. Andrew,
    When I studied Economics I remember my prof would preach to always look for hidden assumptions. In your article your hidden assumption is that the rest of Canada cares about what happens in Quebec. I believe that a large part of Canada might just call them out.
    While I believe that a one Canada is great, and considering I have relatives and friends living in Quebec, it grieves me to say but a lot of people might just say shut the door when they leave. This will cause a lot of turmoil within all regions of the country but it could also be a win – win situation.

    • I was hoping someone else noticed what I did – the base assumption here is that the ROC wants Quebec to stay. Is that actually valid? Or is the ROC at best apathetic? It was certainly a valid assumption in the first referendum, much less so in the second. I'd love to see some polls.

      • Either way (and I dispute that Quebec leaving is popular) there would be a difficult negotiating process.

        • Oh yeah M. Troll, did you think that up all on your own?

      • Your hidden assumption is that Canada could continue to exist without Quebec.

        • Western Canada would likely hold it together (see New West Partnership for evidence), with the Territories, Manitoba and Ontario likely joining WC once they realize the writing is on the wall. I'm not sure what would happen to Atlantic Canada, but my guess is they would try to stay attached to the rest of Canada somehow (either by being an exclave of Canada or forming an association agreement with Canada or another western power a la New Zealand-Cook Islands).

          But as others have suggested, I don't think it will come to that as Quebec will realize an independent Quebec wouldn't do very well outside of Confederation.

          • Unlikely. Quebec is central to Canadian geography. Hard to get through a foreign country to reach the other side of your own.

            If Quebec leaves, the federation will break up.

            Ontario would likely go with Quebec in a return to the original Canada as we have nothing in common with the economies of the west, but do with Quebec.

            Quebec is into the knowledge economy, same as we in Ont are.

          • But you've forgotten about the money. As you have alluded to, Ontario's economy is based heavily on service industries, and no mature individual doubts that Ontario (esp. Toronto) is the corporate centre of Canada. But those huge Ontario corporations (esp. the big banks) are heavily invested in Western Canada, and it is in their interest for Ontario to be part of the same political and economic space as the western provinces. Granted, this could be accomplished via a single market agreement like the EU, but its even easier for Western Canada and Ontario to remain part of a single country.

            Quebec is also a knowledge economy, but as the corporate exodus from Montreal has shown, it is losing ground to places like Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Not having Quebec in Canada would be an inconvenience, and I don't wish for it, but English Canada would survive if Quebec left. Too much money has been invested in this country for it be otherwise.

          • No, Canada is 75% a service economy….it is the prelude to a knowledge economy….Ont and Que have moved past that.

            It has nothing to do with national banks, or what you consider 'their' interests. There are lots of banks available. Corporations are also neither here nor there. Neither is previously invested money.

            Also shale oil and gas is available elsewhere.

            Nope if Quebec leaves, Ontario would likely go with it….the rest of the provinces would be left to their primary resource economies.

          • Knowledge economies need capital, and the banks that capitalize knowledge industries in Canada are also heavily invested in Western Canada's industries, be they resource industries or otherwise. If they lost money as a result of some sort of large political upheaval in Canada, the pool of available capital for knowledge industries in Ontario will shrink.

            I have a feeling we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I grant you that Ontario could choose to join its fellow knowledge economy province, Quebec, in a political arrangement instead of one with Western Canada – but I don't think it would be very smart. Western Canada could survive on its own, as it can sell its resources to raise capital, allowing its own (admittedly small) knowledge and service sectors to grow and fill the void left by Ontario and Quebec. As for Atlantic Canada, it would either have to seek some sort of agreement with another western country (as I mentioned above) or try to make a go of it on their own (which may be possible, but I think the former is more likely).

          • Emily,
            Your 3rd sentence doesn't make any sense.
            This discussion is about Quebec leaving Canada, Why would they do this and then hook up with Ontario?
            And the people in Ontario won't want to hook up with Quebec even if they are part of the knowledge economy. People from Ontario will say to themselves, do I go with my broke neighbours to the East or my wealthier cousins from the West?

          • They may not ….but Ont and Que may choose to go out together anyway. We came in with them after all….and we have far more in common with Quebec than we do any other province….and lots of cross-border deals stretching back generations, as well as many new ones.

            Quebec isn't broke…and Alberta…after a dozen years of an oil boom….has a deficit. Plus oil is self-limiting, whereas the knowledge economy is the future.

          • Emily,
            Google Quebec Provincial Debt and Alberta Provincial Debt.
            Case Closed!!!

          • Or you could just google Quebec, and find out they have a future, whereas oil is self-limiting.

            Sorry hon, after the prom, you're on your own.

        • A lot of Canadians would be more than happy to say "There's the door" if presented with a stark choice. Some terms: Give them 20 % of the military and they have to buy 80% of federal assets in Quebec from us
          They can use the dollar but get no say in its governance, like Costa Rica and the US$
          They get 24 months to get their consulates and foreign ministry up and running, after which Quebec nationals can no longer use the services of a Cdn embassy.
          If Canada is divisible, so is Quebec and if the James Bay Cree or a majority of any other region want to remain in Cda they are welcome and that is severed from Quebec.

          Harsh, but we're not talking about local zoning regs at some municipal council here.

          • Only peabrains I'm afraid.

            You can talk about 'terms' all you like….but all it takes is a declaration….like bye-bye.

  49. Andrew,
    When I studied Economics I remember my prof would preach to always look for hidden assumptions. In your article your hidden assumption is that the rest of Canada cares about what happens in Quebec. I believe that a large part of Canada might just call them out.
    While I believe that a one Canada is great, and considering I have relatives and friends living in Quebec, it grieves me to say but a lot of people might just say shut the door when they leave. This will cause a lot of turmoil within all regions of the country but it could also be a win – win situation.

  50. Anecdotally, though, Duceppe is pretty popular. I mean, I'm an anglo in Montreal qui ne peut pas apprendre le francais, and I even like the guy. I think he's got more goodwill here than you're giving him credit for.

  51. thanks for the insight, which I think is pretty perceptive and a welcome change from the normal partisan bickering on these boards.

  52. I was hoping someone else noticed what I did – the base assumption here is that the ROC wants Quebec to stay. Is that actually valid? Or is the ROC at best apathetic? It was certainly a valid assumption in the first referendum, much less so in the second. I'd love to see some polls.

  53. Remember, there are 11 leaders at the negotiation table post-separation.

    (Sadly, I think the best result of the negotiations would be enough provinces and the feds meet secretly to agree to amend the constitution to disallow separation).

  54. Either way (and I dispute that Quebec leaving is popular) there would be a difficult negotiating process.

  55. If you were to actually READ the firewall letter, and compare it to what Quebec already has in place, you would know that all Harper would have to say is "you already DO."

    The Firewall Letter suggested AB get it's own pension plan (like the QPP), manage its own immigration files (like Quebec does), have it's own police force (like both Quebec and Ontario do), raise cash for healthcare through provincial tax points (like Quebec does). The only thing listed in that letter that Quebec DOESN'T have (or probably CARE to have as it would put some balance in the Senate to counteract Quebec's guaranteed number of seats in the House regardless of population decline) is a triple E senate – elected, equal and effective – the same number of seats for each province, regularly scheduled elections, etc.

    Read it here, if you don't believe me. http://www.cbc.ca/canadavotes2004/leadersparties/

  56. I will pass on choosing via Andrew's anglophone phrasings and suggest that only the Liberal party is worthy of the challenge and the record proves it:
    The Federal Liberals have won two ref's and a major court/PR initiative while the Cons brought Bouchard and the other separatists to the cabinet table and spawned Meech and the Bloc Quebecois. The Cons are dividers and Firewall-Steve ain't the man.

  57. I will pass on choosing via Andrew's anglophone phrasings and suggest that only the Liberal party is worthy of the challenge and the record proves it:
    The Federal Liberals have won two ref's and a major court/PR initiative while the Cons brought Bouchard and the other separatists to the cabinet table and spawned Meech and the Bloc Quebecois. The Cons are dividers and Firewall-Steve ain't the man.

    • You say the Cons spawned the BQ and the Libs won two ref's.

      Some might say the Libs spawned two ref's and the Libs also spawned the PQ. Some might say that Pierre Trudeau spawned the entire separatist movement, with the night of the long knives and a host of other provocative acts. The separatist movement in Quebec was created and blossomed under Trudeau's watch.

      You say the Cons are dividers, but it's been during two Liberal periods when the country was very nearly divided, while the Cons have presided over long periods of relative peace.

      Not only that, the BQ have never received less than 10% of the Canadian vote in an election. But the lowest support they ever received was in the last election (10.0%). and at this moment in time they are polling at just 8%.
      http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mQh4soKsMgw/TZo78MsGqNI

      • You simply haven't a clue what your talking about – go read a history book or something. Separatism was already an issue before Trudeau even came to Ottawa. In fact it's the reason Pearson brought the three wise men into the liberal party – any of this ring any bells for you? Trudeau devised the individual rights strategy in order to outflank the Quebec premier [Johnson ?] He was wildly succesful. If you don't believe me just ask Conrad Black – hardly a Trudeau fan – nevertheless he credits Trudeau in blunting the sparatists threat. By the time Trudeau left the separatists were in disarray – that is until Brian thought it was time to one up his nemesis…again there are perfectly good sources for this. Indeed Coyne wrote a very good piece while at the post. [ wonder if he would link it? I've never been able to relocate it]
        Let's not even get into Meech lake. Which there is still considerable debate about as to whether it was a good idea or not.I'm definitely in the latter camp.

        • I'll grant that separatism existed before Trudeau. But he presided over its exponential growth. His battles with Rene Levesque were legendary. By the time Trudeau excluded Quebec from constitutional negotiations, separatism had become an existential threat that drove hundreds of thousands of anglophones out of Quebec. Trudeau did nothing but exacerbate the problem.

          Meech Lake was a stupid idea. It was a solution to a problem that did not exist. Mulroney just wanted to stamp his name into the history books as the one who finalized the constitution.

          • "By the time Trudeau excluded Quebec from constitutional negotiations, separatism had become an existential threat that drove hundreds of thousands of anglophones out of Quebec"

            I see you've bought levesque's spin. Quebec wasn't excluded, 74 out of 75 liberal Quebec mps approved the charter. Sure they were libs, but they were also the legal democratic representatives of the province – the point being there was no backlash prior to Levesque whipping up the legislature. The deal was hated by the Quebec intellegentsia – not necessarilly the people; not until Rene' got going.
            Was Trudeau too much of a hardass; was his involvement with Rene' too personal? – probably. The sad thing is Mulroney could really have been a healer; he could have finished and capped Trudeau's work if he had chosen to work with him and not one up him. Of course Trudeau's ego was in this too. It'll be interesting to see if the historians answer that question: Who really sabotaged who? Seeing as they were both contrary to some opinion humans, i'd say it was likely a bit of both.
            God i love being a liberal…you just gotta go right down the middle…you're never wholly right and never wholly wrong.:)

          • I'll agree that most of the "long knives" was spin. It wasn't Trudeau's demeanour that was the problem, it was his policies. It wouldn't make a difference one way or the other if Trudeau was more or less of a hard-ass, it was his policies that were ultimately the issue.

            As for Mulroney, he certainly was sabotaged in the sense that Trudeau broke protocol like nobody had done before by publicly denouncing his successor. But in reality they were both wrong, Mulroney had no business trying to tackle an issue that neither English nor French Canada wanted to touch with a ten-foot pole.

          • You've come quite a way to Policy differences. But i agree, ther's nothing wrong with holding that opinion.

            Trudeau only publically denouced BM during the Charlotte town debate[ ithink??] and at a critical moment. Given his views and the stakes involved, and the fact the history was on his side [ i mean this was what the public thought as opposed to virtually the entire elite opinion makers of the country] i'd say he did right. Although he was a bit hard on Brian. Can't say i blame BM for hating his guts after that.

      • Some might say the Libs spawned two ref's and the Libs also spawned the PQ.

        ***

        Anyone who says that is an idiot.

        • Everyone pay close attention. A troll, but not just any troll, M. Troll has just come down from on high to bless us with his great wisdom. And his great wisdom is that everyone who thinks something that he doesn't think is an idiot. Make your you paying attention! You idiots!

    • Technically the libs won one referendum handily and almost lost the other, winning by the skin of our teeth – not Chretien's finest hour. Although the first one was certainly Trudeau's finest hour.

  58. Your hidden assumption is that Canada could continue to exist without Quebec.

  59. funny how the people who whined loudest about Quebecers loud whining to get what they wanted are now the loudest whiners to get what they want (or they take their toys and go home)

  60. The view from way out here on the west coast is that a lot of yes voters in a referendum do so to wring more out of Ottawa. The party leading in the polls, like them or not, does not appear after the first week of campaigning to be over solicitous to Québec which may actually work against a successful referendum. The talk after the last referendum was that it was not particularly fair and legal and one way to improve the result would be to insist that everyone across the country get a vote. The economies of the Western provinces have little connection with Québec and so while years ago Québec was an exotic, diverse addition to Canada it is now seen as a nuisance and an expensive one at that.

  61. The view from way out here on the west coast is that a lot of yes voters in a referendum do so to wring more out of Ottawa. The party leading in the polls, like them or not, does not appear after the first week of campaigning to be over solicitous to Québec which may actually work against a successful referendum. The talk after the last referendum was that it was not particularly fair and legal and one way to improve the result would be to insist that everyone across the country get a vote. The economies of the Western provinces have little connection with Québec and so while years ago Québec was an exotic, diverse addition to Canada it is now seen as a nuisance and an expensive one at that.

    • Québec was never an 'exotic, diverse addition to Canada'….it IS Canada, around long before the 'west' was even heard of.

      • WOW! And Firewall Steve gave Quebec the status of nation! Where were you western folks then?

    • Most people west of Ontario wouldn't notice if Quebec left. Except that they'd stop seeing French everywhere.

      • If even true, that would say a lot about the West and very little about Quebec.

  62. Québec was never an 'exotic, diverse addition to Canada'….it IS Canada, around long before the 'west' was even heard of.

  63. Much like Harper's coalition line, it doesn't have to have anything to do with facts or content.

    If you want to believe "How does an Alberta separatist have the moral authority to talk to Quebec about staying in Canada", you will believe it. Keep repeating it so others join in!

  64. Yes, they knock Quebec for it, and then do it themselves.

  65. You say the Cons spawned the BQ and the Libs won two ref's.

    Some might say the Libs spawned two ref's and the Libs also spawned the PQ. Some might say that Pierre Trudeau spawned the entire separatist movement, with the night of the long knives and a host of other provocative acts. The separatist movement in Quebec was created and blossomed under Trudeau's watch.

    You say the Cons are dividers, but it's been during two Liberal periods when the country was very nearly divided, while the Cons have presided over long periods of relative peace.

    Not only that, the BQ have never received less than 10% of the Canadian vote in an election. But the lowest support they ever received was in the last election (10.0%). and at this moment in time they are polling at just 8%.
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mQh4soKsMgw/TZo78MsGqNI

  66. The BQ's current polling (8%) is showing them at a level lower than they've ever received in any election since their creation (they've never received less than 10%).

    Also, the Liberals continue to be considered vile in francophone Quebec, while the Conservatives have made some good inroads amongst francophone quebecers, and most separatists are francophones.

    Therefore this suggests that Harper is the man.

  67. The BQ's current polling (8%) is showing them at a level lower than they've ever received in any election since their creation (they've never received less than 10%).

    Also, the Liberals continue to be considered vile in francophone Quebec, while the Conservatives have made some good inroads amongst francophone quebecers, and most separatists are francophones.

    Therefore this suggests that Harper is the man.

    • Very reluctantly i agree he would likely be better than Ignatieff, if only because of his experience. But from what i've read he's burned a lot of bridges there too. Too divisive! Not that i have a clue who would do better. Maybe they need to concentrate on a good alternative for Charest?

      • Not sure what bridges you mean. The only thing I can think of is that stupid arts funding issue (in 2006 I think it was), and it was a pittance of money that the BQ played into a issue. You can't please everyone all of the time.

        Personally, I think the main driver of separatism is one-size-fits-all grand national coast-to-coast projects and programs, which is the Liberals (and leftists in general) bread and butter. Liberals don't like to hand money over to the provinces, they like to spend it themselves and tell the provinces how things are gonna work. That's why separatism blossomed under Trudeau, because Trudeau liked to concentrate power in Ottawa with grand national schemes.

        These pan-Canada centralist programs makes Quebecers feel like just another province and no longer in control of their own taxes and their own culture. They like to run their own show. Harper believes in separation of powers. That's why they've been happy with Harper. Harper doesn't tell them how to run their medicare, their child-care, their industries, you name it, he doesn't butt into provincial jurisdictions. Most of the liberal platform butts into provincial jurisdictions, just as every other Liberal platform. You would think there were no provincial Liberal gov'ts, the way the Liberals want to run the whole show and reduce the provinces' powers.

        • I have news for you. Quebec IS only another province; which was precisely Trudeau's point. He took the view that Q's culture and language were in fact safer within the federation And just how do you propose to keep a country glued together by keeping it apart?. Nice spin about the libs one size fits all guff though. Everyone has to have their illusions i guess – Tories too.

  68. You simply haven't a clue what your talking about – go read a history book or something. Separatism was already an issue before Trudeau even came to Ottawa. In fact it's the reason Pearson brought the three wise men into the liberal party – any of this ring any bells for you? Trudeau devised the individual rights strategy in order to outflank the Quebec premier [Johnson ?] He was wildly succesful. If you don't believe me just ask Conrad Black – hardly a Trudeau fan – nevertheless he credits Trudeau in blunting the sparatists threat. By the time Trudeau left the separatists were in disarray – that is until Brian thought it was time to one up his nemesis…again there are perfectly good sources for this. Indeed Coyne wrote a very good piece while at the post. [ wonder if he would link it? I've never been able to relocate it]
    Let's not even get into Meech lake. Which there is still considerable debate about as to whether it was a good idea or not.I'm definitely in the latter camp.

  69. Technically the libs won one referendum handily and almost lost the other, winning by the skin of our teeth – not Chretien's finest hour. Although the first one was certainly Trudeau's finest hour.

  70. Very reluctantly i agree he would likely be better than Ignatieff, if only because of his experience. But from what i've read he's burned a lot of bridges there too. Too divisive! Not that i have a clue who would do better. Maybe they need to concentrate on a good alternative for Charest?

  71. Most people west of Ontario wouldn't notice if Quebec left. Except that they'd stop seeing French everywhere.

  72. I don't see the problem. The Conservatives fitness tax incentive will be even closer to being reality in 2013, so no doubt Quebecers like the rest of Canadians will be caught up in a frenzied count-down for the exciting launch of this new program. As the rest of the world begins to appreciate Canadian leadership on this vital issue, everyone all around this great country will bask in the joy and peace that can only come from six pack abs subsidized by your government.

  73. I don't see the problem. The Conservatives fitness tax incentive will be even closer to being reality in 2013, so no doubt Quebecers like the rest of Canadians will be caught up in a frenzied count-down for the exciting launch of this new program. As the rest of the world begins to appreciate Canadian leadership on this vital issue, everyone all around this great country will bask in the joy and peace that can only come from six pack abs subsidized by your government.

  74. Stewart,

    It's easy to mock targeted tax relief. A trivial it sounds.

    A cap on emissions is another story. Big brother essentially telling industry's that how they are now buying energy (based on the most cost effective) will be illegal. They will (under Iggy's grand economy controlling plan) be required to buy far more expensive energy – perhaps hundreds of windmills surrounding a single plant – or face harsh taxation.

    That grand plan is much harder to mock isn't it. Government controlling the basic inputs into our economy. By definition the Cap n/ trade creates higher prices, and higher taxes. Less jobs, higher prices, slower economy, more economic suffering for all, just as we are getting out of the recession.

    Yes, hard to mock that.

  75. Stewart,

    It's easy to mock targeted tax relief. A trivial it sounds.

    A cap on emissions is another story. Big brother essentially telling industry's that how they are now buying energy (based on the most cost effective) will be illegal. They will (under Iggy's grand economy controlling plan) be required to buy far more expensive energy – perhaps hundreds of windmills surrounding a single plant – or face harsh taxation.

    That grand plan is much harder to mock isn't it. Government controlling the basic inputs into our economy. By definition the Cap n/ trade creates higher prices, and higher taxes. Less jobs, higher prices, slower economy, more economic suffering for all, just as we are getting out of the recession.

    Yes, hard to mock that.

    • chet, Targeted tax relief is easy to mock. When the main potential beneficiaries will be the scam-type gyms that go in & out of business, it is almost a civic duty to mock. When the target is not even today or tomorrow but years from now & highly dependent on growth in the Chinese economy it is hard not to see the humor.

      Finally, when a fat quasi-economist proposes an ineffective measure to help people slim down, well, that just is funny.

  76. So while a coalition will very likely mean this economy destroying cap n trade will be passed into law,

    the media searches for the next gotcha moment, looking back twenty years into the past of someone who isn't even part of our governement anymore.

    As for the long term political implications of this plan to tax to death our Western gooose laying our golden eggs? Most who would give this serious consideration would conclude that Western seperation is a real concern.

    The solution? Don't give it serious consideration. After all it's not a "gotcha" Harper moment.

  77. So while a coalition will very likely mean this economy destroying cap n trade will be passed into law,

    the media searches for the next gotcha moment, looking back twenty years into the past of someone who isn't even part of our governement anymore.

    As for the long term political implications of this plan to tax to death our Western gooose laying our golden eggs? Most who would give this serious consideration would conclude that Western seperation is a real concern.

    The solution? Don't give it serious consideration. After all it's not a "gotcha" Harper moment.

  78. WOW! And Firewall Steve gave Quebec the status of nation! Where were you western folks then?

  79. Money, the ethnic vote, and a Yeti hurling a human hockey puck.

  80. Some might say the Libs spawned two ref's and the Libs also spawned the PQ.

    ***

    Anyone who says that is an idiot.

  81. chet, Targeted tax relief is easy to mock. When the main potential beneficiaries will be the scam-type gyms that go in & out of business, it is almost a civic duty to mock. When the target is not even today or tomorrow but years from now & highly dependent on growth in the Chinese economy it is hard not to see the humor.

    Finally, when a fat quasi-economist proposes an ineffective measure to help people slim down, well, that just is funny.

  82. Now to join you off on your tangent. I understand that you are a denier like our PM once was. I would imagine that you took great delight as did many that 2008 & 2009 were actually a little cooler than 2006 & 2007. Global warming = global cooling is a funny kind of line to work with. However, even in 2009, I knew how to read a graph such as this:
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A.gi

    The bouncing around from year to year hardly matters of course, the trend remains consistent. Of course, relatively rapid global changes in climate are a natural phenomena on this planet. Major tectonic shifts have been associated with nearly synchronized volcanic eruptions, damn asteroids whack into the planet etc. Such events are clearly delineated because they are associated with extinctions. Perhaps if I was a better conservative, I would even cheer possible extinction events… extinctions are natural! . Indeed without earlier extinction events, our predecessors would never have been successful enough to last long enough to evolve into us. So yes, CO2 is natural, yes, weather happens, yes the climate shifts and yes our science is not good enough to successfully model something as complex as the earth's climate with 100% accuracy.

    But the earth's temperature is rising, it is rising at a very rapid rate and industrial emissions have changed the earth's atmosphere including CO2 content. These are facts. Moreover, we know humans have changed climate regionally before, the replacement of prairie grassland with crops has changed weather patterns in the eastern US & Canada, large urban areas are consistently hotter than they would be without the concrete.

    Finally, I do not thing climate change is going to cause humans to become extinct. However, other species will not be so lucky and biodiversity on the planet will suffer. The main cost to humans will be economic. The Economist put out a nice special edition on the challenges the world faces for food production: http://www.economist.com/node/18200618 ( I recommend actually getting the paper copy, there is a lot not available on the web) Climate change will put pressures on food production (and a wide range of other industries) that will result in permanent shifts in the costs of certain goods and force permanent shifts in human activities. I don't believe economists who claim they can put $ around such long-term shifts, but it is hard to imagine any analysis in which such displaced efforts are not associated with a reduction in quality of life.

    Politically, climate change has dropped off the map largely because no-one has a clue how to address it. I am not confident that it will be dealt with politically (the examples of global political consensus solving problems is pretty sparse. ) However, that graph above is going to continue into the next decade. Regional fluctuations (weather) around increasing averages will lead to periodic disasters & deaths. Still as in any change, there will be winners and losers. Some of the winners will be more efficient technologies, even bigger winners will be technologies that mitigate problems or take advantage of new opportunities associated with climate change. The countries that are early adopters of winning technologies will do well, countries on the sidelines will not.

    Cap & trade strikes me as a stupid mechanism, but not quite as stupid as doing nothing. I believe a small, but escalating carbon tax combined with strategic co-investment in new winning technologies provides the maximum incentive for industry investment and innovation. (For example, Canada has a great opportunity to leverage our crop biotech expertise)

  83. Jeff Simpson's column appeared on a similar theme. But since no one's responded to his piece, I'll pick up where he left off:

    I count 230 comments to his piece at this stage. Looks like the punditry veterans from the Meech Lake Accord are venturing into familiar waters.

    Fear Factor, Canada edition – the separatists are lapping at our borders.

  84. Jeff Simpson's column appeared on a similar theme. But since no one's responded to his piece, I'll pick up where he left off:

    I count 230 comments to his piece at this stage. Looks like the punditry veterans from the Meech Lake Accord are venturing into familiar waters.

    Fear Factor, Canada edition – the separatists are lapping at our borders.

  85. Don't bother Candace. This Liberal hack is not susceptible to reason. Say Mike Troll, how much was your last paycheque from Liberal Party Headquarters? Just wondering how well their compensating you for the job your doing of making yourself look like a complete buffoon. LOL!

  86. no.

  87. Oh yeah M. Troll, did you think that up all on your own?

  88. Everyone pay close attention. A troll, but not just any troll, M. Troll has just come down from on high to bless us with his great wisdom. And his great wisdom is that everyone who thinks something that he doesn't think is an idiot. Make your you paying attention! You idiots!

  89. That's because you can't think!

  90. *Make sure you are paying attention!

    Haha, I am an idiot!

  91. Yep, I wouldn't be surprised if a third referendum on Quebec separation is met with a shrug from the ROC. There may even be feelings of relief – no more walking on eggshells trying not to upset them, reduced equalization obligations, a review of bilingualism requirements, etc. In many ways being less distracted by the never ending Quebec melodrama allows more time and money to focus on issues that unite and strengthen to rest of the country.

    In that scenario, the best leader is one that can pick a team who ruthlessly negotiates the best deal it can for Canada in the areas of debt repayment and trade. Definitely not the teams that negotiated Kyoto (Lib) nor ones the created the Canada/US free trade dispute mechanism (PC). Since everyone on the left agrees that Harper's CPC are cold, mean-spirited SOBs, Harper's your man.

  92. finally a realist self-assessment !
    ;-)

  93. finally a realist self-assessment !
    ;-)

  94. Dot – right on
    "But since no one's responded to his piece"
    Perhaps in Coyne's view those 230 people who replied are "no one" – especially if they try to attend a Con event.

  95. Dot – right on
    "But since no one's responded to his piece"
    Perhaps in Coyne's view those 230 people who replied are "no one" – especially if they try to attend a Con event.

  96. Sure, he's inoffensive to you, but popular? What's the basis for that conclusion? His party is at about 37% in most polls. It's possible that his personal approval numbers are higher, but that's largely because he has no responsibilities.

    I recall Bouchard's popularity also coming back to earth once he left the Bloc and became leader of the PQ.

  97. Not sure what bridges you mean. The only thing I can think of is that stupid arts funding issue (in 2006 I think it was), and it was a pittance of money that the BQ played into a issue. You can't please everyone all of the time.

    Personally, I think the main driver of separatism is one-size-fits-all grand national coast-to-coast projects and programs, which is the Liberals (and leftists in general) bread and butter. Liberals don't like to hand money over to the provinces, they like to spend it themselves and tell the provinces how things are gonna work. That's why separatism blossomed under Trudeau, because Trudeau liked to concentrate power in Ottawa with grand national schemes.

    These pan-Canada centralist programs makes Quebecers feel like just another province and no longer in control of their own taxes and their own culture. They like to run their own show. Harper believes in separation of powers. That's why they've been happy with Harper. Harper doesn't tell them how to run their medicare, their child-care, their industries, you name it, he doesn't butt into provincial jurisdictions. Most of the liberal platform butts into provincial jurisdictions, just as every other Liberal platform. You would think there were no provincial Liberal gov'ts, the way the Liberals want to run the whole show and reduce the provinces' powers.

  98. Yeah, that's his modus operandi. For someone who knows everything, he sure fails to express an interesting point about anything. I can't remember the last time he said anything of substance. He might be a robot.

  99. I'll grant that separatism existed before Trudeau. But he presided over its exponential growth. His battles with Rene Levesque were legendary. By the time Trudeau excluded Quebec from constitutional negotiations, separatism had become an existential threat that drove hundreds of thousands of anglophones out of Quebec. Trudeau did nothing but exacerbate the problem.

    Meech Lake was a stupid idea. It was a solution to a problem that did not exist. Mulroney just wanted to stamp his name into the history books as the one who finalized the constitution.

  100. Western Canada would likely hold it together (see New West Partnership for evidence), with the Territories, Manitoba and Ontario likely joining WC once they realize the writing is on the wall. I'm not sure what would happen to Atlantic Canada, but my guess is they would try to stay attached to the rest of Canada somehow (either by being an exclave of Canada or forming an association agreement with Canada or another western power a la New Zealand-Cook Islands).

    But as others have suggested, I don't think it will come to that as Quebec will realize an independent Quebec wouldn't do very well outside of Confederation.

  101. A lot of Canadians would be more than happy to say "There's the door" if presented with a stark choice. Some terms: Give them 20 % of the military and they have to buy 80% of federal assets in Quebec from us
    They can use the dollar but get no say in its governance, like Costa Rica and the US$
    They get 24 months to get their consulates and foreign ministry up and running, after which Quebec nationals can no longer use the services of a Cdn embassy.
    If Canada is divisible, so is Quebec and if the James Bay Cree or a majority of any other region want to remain in Cda they are welcome and that is severed from Quebec.

    Harsh, but we're not talking about local zoning regs at some municipal council here.

  102. But doesn't this suggest that the PQ winning an election would not necessarily lead to a referendum victory? Couldn't it be that there is a large number of Quebecois willing to vote for the PQ and BQ (especially given the current alternative), but who would, ultimately, vote against sovereignty in a referendum?

    And that's leaving aside the "in a multi-party election, 40% can equal a massive majority" issue (which we see with the BQ in federal politics). In all likelihood, the PQ government would have the support of only a plurality of Quebecois, meaning a referendum would be even less likely to succeed.

    Honestly, I don't see why the PQ is so eager to have another referendum. It seems pretty obvious that it will lose. I get the sense that many of the top dogs in the party (e.g., Marois) realize this and want to put it off, but are basically being pressured from below (hence her flip-flopping on the issue).

  103. "Of course if you really want to win Quebec over and encourage them to stay, toning down the anti-Quebec rhetoric (sometimes thinly veiled as anti-Bloc rhetoric) spewing from the western wing of the Conservative party would be a good start."

    On the other hand, if you really are sick and tired of the separation "threat" Quebec trots out every decade or so to blackmail whatever it can get out of the RoC, such that you've ceased to care about "win(ning) Quebec over and encourag(ing) them to stay", expressing that sentiment seems prudent, notwithstanding the risk it will be regarded as the spewing of anti-Quebec rhetoric by some.

  104. Unlikely. Quebec is central to Canadian geography. Hard to get through a foreign country to reach the other side of your own.

    If Quebec leaves, the federation will break up.

    Ontario would likely go with Quebec in a return to the original Canada as we have nothing in common with the economies of the west, but do with Quebec.

    Quebec is into the knowledge economy, same as we in Ont are.

  105. Only peabrains I'm afraid.

    You can talk about 'terms' all you like….but all it takes is a declaration….like bye-bye.

  106. "By the time Trudeau excluded Quebec from constitutional negotiations, separatism had become an existential threat that drove hundreds of thousands of anglophones out of Quebec"

    I see you've bought levesque's spin. Quebec wasn't excluded, 74 out of 75 liberal Quebec mps approved the charter. Sure they were libs, but they were also the legal democratic representatives of the province – the point being there was no backlash prior to Levesque whipping up the legislature. The deal was hated by the Quebec intellegentsia – not necessarilly the people; not until Rene' got going.
    Was Trudeau too much of a hardass; was his involvement with Rene' too personal? – probably. The sad thing is Mulroney could really have been a healer; he could have finished and capped Trudeau's work if he had chosen to work with him and not one up him. Of course Trudeau's ego was in this too. It'll be interesting to see if the historians answer that question: Who really sabotaged who? Seeing as they were both contrary to some opinion humans, i'd say it was likely a bit of both.
    God i love being a liberal…you just gotta go right down the middle…you're never wholly right and never wholly wrong.:)

  107. If even true, that would say a lot about the West and very little about Quebec.

  108. Quite a belief Stewart.
    My opinion is that with a warmer climate the need for carbon will be significantly reduced. We could be all living in a Garden of Eden so to speak. There wouldn't be a need to heat our homes.If the earth evolved into a complete tropical climate, the carbon in the air would be looked after by the fast growing plants. Problem solved without a carbon tax:)
    I think polution due to manufacturing is wose than C02 emmissions.

    • Other pollution is worse Curt for two reasons: Even small amount of CO, NO are detrimental to health & those byproducts are also more effective greenhouse gases than CO2.

      Eden? Careful what you wish for: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/0812

  109. Quite a belief Stewart.
    My opinion is that with a warmer climate the need for carbon will be significantly reduced. We could be all living in a Garden of Eden so to speak. There wouldn't be a need to heat our homes.If the earth evolved into a complete tropical climate, the carbon in the air would be looked after by the fast growing plants. Problem solved without a carbon tax:)
    I think polution due to manufacturing is wose than C02 emmissions.

  110. I'll agree that most of the "long knives" was spin. It wasn't Trudeau's demeanour that was the problem, it was his policies. It wouldn't make a difference one way or the other if Trudeau was more or less of a hard-ass, it was his policies that were ultimately the issue.

    As for Mulroney, he certainly was sabotaged in the sense that Trudeau broke protocol like nobody had done before by publicly denouncing his successor. But in reality they were both wrong, Mulroney had no business trying to tackle an issue that neither English nor French Canada wanted to touch with a ten-foot pole.

  111. Separation is dead dead dead in Quebec.
    If the PQ even breath a hint of having another referendum or separating in the 2013 campaign, they will lose.
    If Facal/Legault takes over the ADQ, or if Mario Dumont comes back in charge and says that he has learned how to manage people better, they will sweep the province.

    It's not just separation — a big healthy chunk of francophone rural Quebecers are realizing that language restrictions are limiting them — and not hindering the evil Montrealers at all.

    Pauline Marois knows this, and is currently doing everything she can to get the hardliners within her own party to shut up. But she's stuck — she'll appease them, win another internal mandate this spring, then not say anything about the S-word for the next three years.

  112. Separation is dead dead dead in Quebec.
    If the PQ even breath a hint of having another referendum or separating in the 2013 campaign, they will lose.
    If Facal/Legault takes over the ADQ, or if Mario Dumont comes back in charge and says that he has learned how to manage people better, they will sweep the province.

    It's not just separation — a big healthy chunk of francophone rural Quebecers are realizing that language restrictions are limiting them — and not hindering the evil Montrealers at all.

    Pauline Marois knows this, and is currently doing everything she can to get the hardliners within her own party to shut up. But she's stuck — she'll appease them, win another internal mandate this spring, then not say anything about the S-word for the next three years.

  113. Other pollution is worse Curt for two reasons: Even small amount of CO, NO are detrimental to health & those byproducts are also more effective greenhouse gases than CO2.

    Eden? Careful what you wish for: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/0812

  114. Your opinion needs to be informed by agriculturalists.

  115. But you've forgotten about the money. As you have alluded to, Ontario's economy is based heavily on service industries, and no mature individual doubts that Ontario (esp. Toronto) is the corporate centre of Canada. But those huge Ontario corporations (esp. the big banks) are heavily invested in Western Canada, and it is in their interest for Ontario to be part of the same political and economic space as the western provinces. Granted, this could be accomplished via a single market agreement like the EU, but its even easier for Western Canada and Ontario to remain part of a single country.

    Quebec is also a knowledge economy, but as the corporate exodus from Montreal has shown, it is losing ground to places like Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Not having Quebec in Canada would be an inconvenience, and I don't wish for it, but English Canada would survive if Quebec left. Too much money has been invested in this country for it be otherwise.

  116. No, Canada is 75% a service economy….it is the prelude to a knowledge economy….Ont and Que have moved past that.

    It has nothing to do with national banks, or what you consider 'their' interests. There are lots of banks available. Corporations are also neither here nor there. Neither is previously invested money.

    Also shale oil and gas is available elsewhere.

    Nope if Quebec leaves, Ontario would likely go with it….the rest of the provinces would be left to their primary resource economies.

  117. Knowledge economies need capital, and the banks that capitalize knowledge industries in Canada are also heavily invested in Western Canada's industries, be they resource industries or otherwise. If they lost money as a result of some sort of large political upheaval in Canada, the pool of available capital for knowledge industries in Ontario will shrink.

    I have a feeling we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I grant you that Ontario could choose to join its fellow knowledge economy province, Quebec, in a political arrangement instead of one with Western Canada – but I don't think it would be very smart. Western Canada could survive on its own, as it can sell its resources to raise capital, allowing its own (admittedly small) knowledge and service sectors to grow and fill the void left by Ontario and Quebec. As for Atlantic Canada, it would either have to seek some sort of agreement with another western country (as I mentioned above) or try to make a go of it on their own (which may be possible, but I think the former is more likely).

  118. Knowledge economies don't operate the same way as the ones we're used to….and banks are invested all over the world so that won't matter.

    A political upheaval in Canada won't shrink capital for the knowledge economy. There is no connection.

    Western Canada will have to join the US, and there they'll be lost in the crowd, but it's their choice.

  119. I don’t want Harper to lead the federalist side into a referendum, because convincing Quebecers that a strong, united Canada is a worthwhile idea takes more than cyinical tactics and iron-fisted message control.

  120. I don’t want Harper to lead the federalist side into a referendum, because convincing Quebecers that a strong, united Canada is a worthwhile idea takes more than cyinical tactics and iron-fisted message control.

  121. Ignatieff has written extensively about the rights of minorities and how they should be accommodated.

    He outclasses Harper in every category when it comes to dealing with Quebec separatism (not so much on sports aren… err I mean public space).

    Then again, whoever the leader will be will most likely be irrelevant on such an issue.

  122. Ignatieff has written extensively about the rights of minorities and how they should be accommodated.

    He outclasses Harper in every category when it comes to dealing with Quebec separatism (not so much on sports aren… err I mean public space).

    Then again, whoever the leader will be will most likely be irrelevant on such an issue.

  123. If they want their share of the debt, I'm sure something can be arranged but beyond that there isn't much that is divisible.
    Their culture will face the same challenges as it does inside of Confederation. Their influence may become greatly reduced.
    If it were the Maritimes looking to part ways it wouldn't even be given serious thought, it would be foolish to consider it.
    It would further Quebec's cause of maintaining it's identity to remain as working partner in Canada as opposed to a road block within Canada's borders.
    I'd have to vote for every province to get a new deal not just one.

  124. If they want their share of the debt, I'm sure something can be arranged but beyond that there isn't much that is divisible.
    Their culture will face the same challenges as it does inside of Confederation. Their influence may become greatly reduced.
    If it were the Maritimes looking to part ways it wouldn't even be given serious thought, it would be foolish to consider it.
    It would further Quebec's cause of maintaining it's identity to remain as working partner in Canada as opposed to a road block within Canada's borders.
    I'd have to vote for every province to get a new deal not just one.

  125. You've come quite a way to Policy differences. But i agree, ther's nothing wrong with holding that opinion.

    Trudeau only publically denouced BM during the Charlotte town debate[ ithink??] and at a critical moment. Given his views and the stakes involved, and the fact the history was on his side [ i mean this was what the public thought as opposed to virtually the entire elite opinion makers of the country] i'd say he did right. Although he was a bit hard on Brian. Can't say i blame BM for hating his guts after that.

  126. So who would do better? Hmmm?

  127. I have news for you. Quebec IS only another province; which was precisely Trudeau's point. He took the view that Q's culture and language were in fact safer within the federation And just how do you propose to keep a country glued together by keeping it apart?. Nice spin about the libs one size fits all guff though. Everyone has to have their illusions i guess – Tories too.

  128. If I understand Andrew's long standing position on Quebec nationalism correctly, I'm sure he'd say the danger is not separation, which is very unlikely if not downright impossible, but the compromise we make to avoid separation, which will make the current arrangement quite a bit less fair and equitable.

  129. Emily,
    Your 3rd sentence doesn't make any sense.
    This discussion is about Quebec leaving Canada, Why would they do this and then hook up with Ontario?
    And the people in Ontario won't want to hook up with Quebec even if they are part of the knowledge economy. People from Ontario will say to themselves, do I go with my broke neighbours to the East or my wealthier cousins from the West?

  130. I think no one over the age of, say, twenty five should be able to hold dual citizenship. this would solve several problems and would certainly give pause to Quebers who think they can seperate and still get a Canadian passport and a Canadian pension.

  131. I think no one over the age of, say, twenty five should be able to hold dual citizenship. this would solve several problems and would certainly give pause to Quebers who think they can seperate and still get a Canadian passport and a Canadian pension.

  132. They may not ….but Ont and Que may choose to go out together anyway. We came in with them after all….and we have far more in common with Quebec than we do any other province….and lots of cross-border deals stretching back generations, as well as many new ones.

    Quebec isn't broke…and Alberta…after a dozen years of an oil boom….has a deficit. Plus oil is self-limiting, whereas the knowledge economy is the future.

  133. There is nothing stable about Harper. Although if he gains a couple more pounds/kilograms he's not likely to fall over.

  134. Emily,
    Google Quebec Provincial Debt and Alberta Provincial Debt.
    Case Closed!!!

  135. Or you could just google Quebec, and find out they have a future, whereas oil is self-limiting.

    Sorry hon, after the prom, you're on your own.

  136. Ahhhhhhh… the nit-wit from France.

  137. Okay, I'll bite: what did you mean by "This is, after all, very likely their last shot."? Demographics seem to me to be on the side of the separatists, who enjoy the support of the young and a not unsubstantial slice of the immigrant population.

  138. Okay, I'll bite: what did you mean by "This is, after all, very likely their last shot."? Demographics seem to me to be on the side of the separatists, who enjoy the support of the young and a not unsubstantial slice of the immigrant population.

  139. Quebec speratism is exactly why a Liberal minority Government should scare the hell out of Canadians. Based on the last two elections and current polls, both the Liberal and NDP platforms (currently on offer to Canadian voters), will be by and large reputiated, (by said voters). That is, in a country with two proverbial solitudes, Quebec will vote for the Bloc and English Canada will vote Conservative. Clearly Quebec is not choosing to participate in electing a National Government, English Canada on the other hand is. This leaves English Canada facing the prospect of being Governed by two parties they've reputiated at the polls, (only possible) with the support of hard line speratists. In what official language could that be called a mandate. While such a proposition may fly in Toronto's elitist circles, in the West we'll gag. A recipe for unity, this is not. The preferred currency of Liberals is Power. The Bloc will have it for sale, and the Liberals will buy it. What a coup for Gilles, a Liberal minority that will give him A united Quebec with a divided opponent.

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