One could wonder how the 1980 and 1995 referendums would have turned out with a Joe Clark or a Preston Manning as Prime Minister rather than Pierre Trudeau or Jean Chrétien. One could point out that Madame Marois was elected in 2012 through denouncing the Harper government's ultraconservative policies. One could well denounce the unilateralism, lack of dialogue and boondoggles that marked federal-provincial relations under Harper, as well as the Conservative government's hodge-podge of ill-advised political decisions with respect to health, justice, training, old age security, immigration... decisions which are proving costly to the provinces.
Marois seemed panicky in attacking Couillard Tuesday at a press conference in Verdun, and in a seemingly desperate attempt, brought up Arthur Porter and Couillard's apparent close connection. The PQ is apparently planning on phasing Marois out of their election strategy, by replacing her with the more popular Bernard Drainville and his baby; la charte.
With Quebec now facing an election where it looks increasingly likely that the separatist party will not only win a second term, but a majority government to boot, Anglo and Franco relations are being strained like never before. Separatism is poised to make its third great comeback. The question is whether any Canadians will be willing to carry the flag this time.
The Marois government's double-speak must be denounced, and its objective understood: getting the Superior Court to validate Bill 99 on the grounds that the Bill does not stipulate a right to secede unilaterally, and then triumphantly trumpeting everywhere that the Court's validation of Bill 99 confirms such a right.
As expected, the provincial government's proposed Charter of Quebec Values contains a highly problematic ban on religious symbols or attire for all public sector employees. The Charter's supporters argue that it is necessary to protect the religious neutrality of the Quebec state, but that argument is based on a number of faulty premises, such as: The state cannot be religiously neutral if public employees wear religious items; religious identity can be "turned off" during business hours; religious symbols in the workplace undermine gender equality and that certain Catholic symbols in public institutions are cultural or historical, but faith-based accessories worn by public employees are religious.
Imagine a teacher at a public school, or a Centre de santé et des services sociaux receptionist. If she tucks her hair into a turban as a fashion statement, or dons a headscarf to keep her hairdo safe from the rain, or because she's having a bad hair day, that would be perfectly acceptable. Ditto for covering a pate denuded by cancer chemotherapy. But if she puts on that same headscarf out of Islamic modesty, das ist verboten.
I went to Toronto, New York, London and especially Oslo to explain the resource potential of Quebec. I told all who would listen how Quebec had worked for over a generation to become energy independent. I told them Questerre had an idea for natural gas that could help Quebec achieve its energy independence dreams. I was successful and convinced them to take the high risks involved and we were successful in finding one of the largest natural gas fields in North America.
With Pauline Marois now officially inaugurated as the sixth separatist premier of everyone's favorite French-speaking province, you might reckon that our nation's gigantic, months-long Quebec politics bender would finally be coming to an end. Also, you might be an idiot. Speaking of not-so-smart ideas, Harper's plans to reform parliamentary pensions aren't going over so well in the media...