The problem with deals with the devil is that they don't keep their end of the bargain
Ever since the Liberals and the NDP made their coalition deal with the Bloc Quebecois -- a deal many supporters of the coalition continue to mislead Canadians about -- many Canadians have wondered precisely what the Bloc demanded in return for the deal.
On Thursday Marlene Jennings, the Liberal MP for Notre Dame-de Gracie-Lachine revealed what just one of those demands were.
The Bloc, it seems, demanded that all federally-regulated companies operating in Quebec be subject to Bill 101. Jennings reports that she flat-out denied that.
“I said no. Never. Not while I have a breath in my body,” Jennings insisted.
Jennings' refusal allegedly cost the Liberals six months of Bloc support -- reducing it from a full two years to 18 months.
“I was able to [say no] because I knew that for people in my riding, and English-speaking communities, and the Jewish community, and other communities, Bill 101 is anathema… for a variety of reasons,” Jennings continued.
Jennings also crowed about her purported accomplishment of convincing the Bloc to take sovereignty off the agenda for the 18-month term of the coalition agreement.
“I’m quite proud of it,” Jennings addeded, “because it’s the first time in the 18 years [since] the Bloc was first founded, that the Bloc, in writing, took sovereignty off its agenda, if the agreement was put into action. No other party, no other government has been able to do that."
Of course, Jennings seems to believe that this is the perfect answer to the concerns many Canadians have over how much the Liberals are prepared to sacrifice to keep their coalition intact.
But Jennings forgets that there's a difference between the demands the Bloc would make during the negotiation of a coalition agreement -- a coalition that, no matter how much Jennings lies, the Bloc very much is party to -- and the demands that the Bloc would make when the noose is already around the Liberal party's neck.
In the course of the negotiations, before they had any real leverage, it was merely Bill 101. Give the Bloc Quebecois some real leverage and it very well could be the clarity act.
Beyond that, one has to imagine there's a difference in the concessions the Liberals would have been willing to make during the negotiations and the concessions they'd be willing to make once their precious coalition is a reality.
During the negotiations Jennings was willing to draw the line short of Bill 101. But no one can say for certain how far Jennings, Stephane Dion and the Liberal party would have been willing to go in order to preserve a government.
The naivete of expecting a written coalition accord -- an agreement that Canada's democratic institutions have no power to actually enforce -- to bar the Bloc from breaking their word and making further demands is beyond Faustian.
After all, no one should expect a party that so blatantly and intentionally decieved their own people during the 1995 sovereingty referendum -- and did this so effectively that many oui-voting Quebeckers believed they would continue to elect members to Canada's Parliament under the guise of "sovereignty association" -- simply cannot be trusted to keep their word to the rest of the country.
Even beyond this Faustian naivete, there is one other matter that Canadians need to be very concerned about: the concessions the Liberals have already agreed to make.
The naivete is one thing. The secrecy is quite another.
Other bloggers writing on this topic:
Johnny Bee - Johnny B ... Says Spill All the Beans, Marlene
Adam Daifallah - "Jennings Speaks Out"