The future of ‘Saskberta’

Two Prairie provinces will make common cause in 2020 in an alliance born of anger and economic pain

Western separatism is not a serious option

Stephen Maher: Canada is the best country in the world, and no province is leaving. What is real is the anger and Justin Trudeau is ill-suited to deal with it.

Bavaria = Quebec + Alberta. Could it go it alone?

A new, controversial book argues it should.

In conversation: Justin Trudeau

The Montreal MP in a wide-ranging interview from 2012

Justin Trudeau: reflections on a grown man

Does anybody recognize the “Canada of Stephen Harper” Trudeau ranted against so excitingly?

The wild card

The NDP’s former Newfoundland separatist

Ryan Cleary could be Jack Layton’s biggest caucus challenge


Still here, and more alienated than ever

If separatism is dying, that doesn’t mean that la belle province has finally come around to the virtues of federalism.

The Montreal Sovereigntists

The Montreal Canadiens are the precise embodiment of everything the Parti Québécois has ever stood for


Where was Lucien when it mattered?

It’s almost as if he’d never been in charge.

First, Lucien Bouchard breaks his years-long silence to say the PQ is hopelessly misguided—on sovereignty, on the economy, on identity. Then he says Quebec is starving its universities by capping tuition. I can’t be the only one waiting for the other shoe to drop. (Jamais deux sans trois, and all that.) But whether or not he completes the trifecta, none of it really matters. Bouchard is hardly the white knight Quebec conservatives would like him to be.

The problem with Bouchard’s criticisms isn’t that they’re hypocritical—they’re not—nor that they’re fundamentally wrong. It’s that they’re anachronistic.

On tuition, Bouchard is criticizing a freeze on fees his own government declared in 1997. Moreover, he’s doing so more than two years (!) after Charest lifted it, however meekly, by imposing $100/year increases. The debate on tuition may very well be a necessary one, but Bouchard and his fellow retirees are jumping in with both feet only now that they know the water isn’t toxic.

But it’s Bouchard’s statements on the PQ and the sovereigntist movement as a whole that seem especially dated. Since he stepped down in 2001, not a single PQ leader has backed away from his insistence the party wouldn’t win a referendum even if they managed to convince Quebecers it was a good idea to hold one; they’ve just changed the way those reservations are phrased. Whereas Bouchard was waiting for “winning conditions,” Bernard Landry wanted “moral certainty” and André Boisclair wouldn’t use the R-word at all, calling it a “public consultation.” It was Pauline Marois who finally absolved herself and her successors of the responsibility to hold a referendum as soon as possible by changing the party program.

And while I think Andrew overstates* Bouchard’s affinity for ethnic nationalism, Bouchard sure did wait a while before delving into the identity debate. Now, he’s effectively telling everyone to calm down long after they’ve already done so. (Calm, of course, being an entirely different state of mind than rational.) Sure, the PQ has since pushed a reprehensible bill that would, among other things, bar non-Francophones from running in local elections. But where was Bouchard when the reasonable accommodations stuff was truly ugly? After all, it was the PQ’s shocking inability to formulate a coherent response to the reasonable accomodations crisis that led to its disastrous result in the 2007 election. If ever there was a breach for Bouchard to step into, that was it.

What Bouchard seems to be pining for is a re-hash of the ADQ that’s been stripped of nutjobs—a small-c conservative party with nationalist accents. And who knows, Mario Dumont may very well have welcomed Bouchard’s help in legitimizing the ADQ before it went belly up. But that’s just it—we’ll never know, because Bouchard wasn’t interested in pushing those policies when they were at their most viable.


Lucien Bouchard cautions the PQ not to get mixed up with identity politics. ' What a card!

Andrew Coyne: Lucien Bouchard or Jacques Parizeau?

Who’s more ‘realistic’ about sovereignty?


Quote of the day

Arnold Kling isn’t referring specifically to Quebec, but he might as well be: