Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Does the New Voice of Quebec Want to Tell Us?

NDP's soft on separatism take sends a bad message

The NDP's long-awaited Quebec breakthrough in the 2011 federal election could be said to be the fruits of Rebecca Blaikie's labour. Though she still has not captured electoral success, it was Blaikie's hard work, in large part, that led to the 2011 triumph.

But there are shadows of peril surrounding the NDP's emergence in Quebec. With one MP already openly expressing separatist views, and two others suggesting they're unsure how they'd vote in a sovereignty referendum, Canadians are being faced to wake up to the reality that the NDP may simply be supplanting the Bloc Quebecois as Quebec's federal separatist party.

Blaikie stresses the importance of the NDP adopting assymetrical federalism and a position that a 50% plus one vote in a sovereignty refrendum is good enough to allow Quebec to separate.

“As New Democrats, just as we respect the rights of First Nations, we respect the rights of Quebecers. But what we're ultimately trying to do is create a situation in which we never need to exercise those rights, because they feel like they're a part of something worth belonging to,” she said.

This way lies madness.

First, assymetrical federalism is not an acceptable proposal for Canada. Simply put, assymetrical federalism is simply not sustainable. If the NDP would be willing to grant powers such as opt out-with compensation privileges to Quebec, they owe it to the other nine provinces as well.

Secondly, Blaikie is simply incorrect that 50% plus one is sufficient for Quebec to separate from Canada. 50% plus one is sufficient to secure a mandate to negotiate seccession with Canada's nine other provinces, but on its own it's not enough to separate Quebec.

Other problems abound for the NDP -- such as Jack Layton's open opposition to the clarity act -- that lead to serious questions about the NDP's credibility as a federalist party.

So Canadians have a very simple question for the NDP, the alleged new voice of Quebec: what does the new voice of Quebec want to tell us? About federalism? About sovereignty?

The answers it's offered to the former question are exceedingly poor. The answers offered to the latter are unclear, and carry the vague prospects of a province-wide political bait-and-switch.

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