Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The True Face of the Coalition

Sometimes a concerned citizen says it better than a partisan spokesman ever can.

In a letter to the editor of the Montreal Gazette, Craig McPherson sends a reminder to voters in Outremont: while the Bloc Quebecois was technically not a full member of the Socialist/Separatist coalition, they were more than content to help the Bloc satisfy its demands:
"Now is the time to remind Quebec's often-overlooked anglo community that the New Democratic Party as a whole, and Outremont incumbent Thomas Mulcair in particular, in April of 2008 voted in support of a Bloc Québécois bill that, had it not been defeated by the Conservatives and Liberals, would have seen Bill 101's language restrictions applied to workers in federally regulated industries in Quebec.

It would have effectively meant that English would no longer be required for bank employees, airport workers and telecommunications companies. Of course, the NDP and Mulcair tried, at the time, to spin this as a defence of an employee's right to work in French, but the net result would have been yet further diminishment of employment opportunities for Quebec anglophones and a continued erosion of our already feeble linguistic rights.
It may be fair to wonder precisely how Marlene Jennings, the Liberal Party's lead negotiator with their coalition partners, must have felt about this. In December of 2008 Jennings let one little nugget slip out of the veil of secrecy drawn around the coalition agreement.

That nugget was that the BQ had demanded that Quebec's notoriously-discriminatory language law, Bill 101, be applied to federally-regulated industries in Quebec.

“I said no," Jennings bragged. "Never. Not while I have a breath in my body.”

“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 added.

Jennings' stand on Bill 101 is admirable. But what is not admirable is the secrecy surrounding the 2008 coalition agreement. They still won't tell Canadians what they sacrificed to secure the cooperation of the Bloc Quebecois.

Even less admirable is the NDP -- including its sole Quebec MP, Thomas Mulcair -- running around behind the Liberals' back, giving them support on issues that the Liberals had declared entirely off-the-table.

Maybe that's just the kind of relationship the Liberal/NDP coalition had with its coalition partner: if the Liberals told the Bloc "no", the Bloc would just ask mom.

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