Monday, August 25, 2008

Separatist Movement Continues to Splinter

Marois, Legault at odds over state of sovereigntist cause

In the year since the 2007 Quebec Provincial election, it has become increasingly evident that the Quebec sovereigntist movement is becoming increasingly splintered.

In the 2007 election, the Parti Quebecois was oustered from the seat of Official Opposition, replaced by Mario Dumont and the Action Democratique du Quebec. In the same year, the PQ lost their previous stronghold in Saguenay to a Conservative candidate.

Now, admidst piling electoral losses, the PQ are now facing dissention within their own ranks regarding the future of separatism.

Veteran PQ MNA Francois Legault sewed some doubt about the prospects of a future referendum.

"You have to be realistic," Legault said, noting that Quebeckers are losing faith in politicians. "People are not ready to have collective projects proposed to them because they've lost confidence in politicians. If we want to be able to sell to people the importance of having one state, they have to have confidence in the state. Right now, I see a lot of cynicism."

For her own part, PQ leader Pauline Marois disagrees.

"I don't feel that there is that cynicism," Marois argues. "On the contrary, I feel people are searching for new challenges, they yearn to mobilize around new projects that will lift them up."

For his own part, Legault imagines a two-part solution to the conundrum being faced by the separatist movement. "There's a loss of confidence in all the political class so, unfortunately, we have to perhaps go in two stages: re-build confidence, propose an alternative as government to deal with health problems and better deal with the economic slowdown," he says.

But the most recent polls demonstrate sagging support for the PQ's federal counterpart, the Bloc Quebecois.

As such, Mario Dumont may be spot-on when he notes that "It sounds like Francois Legault listened to Quebecers better than his colleagues over the summer. When he turns up at his caucus saying Quebecers don't want a referendum and for us (politicians) to work on other things, I think Francois Legault has made an accurate assessment of what Quebeckers expect today."

With the separatist movement in Quebec clearly splintering, now may be the perfect time for federalist politicians at all levels of power -- Stephen Harper and Stephane Dion federally and Jean Charest and Dumont provincially -- to go on the offense against separatism in Quebec.

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