Hail the Conquering Heroine!
“As a nation we want to decide for ourselves and take the decisions that concern us,” she said as supporters in the packed hall chanted, “We want our country.”
She attempted to reassure anglophones concerned about the PQ’s pursuit of politics of identity. “To my fellow anglophone Quebeckers, I say don’t worry. Your rights will be fully protected. We share the same history and I want us to shape together our common future,” she said in English.
The smile of the crocodile.
It is unlikely, however, that we will see a flood of panicked Anglos streaming down the 401. Madame Marois has the most circumscribed of mandates. 54 seats to the Liberals' 50. A mere 31.9% of the popular vote for the Pequistes with 31.2% going to the Liberals. Enthusiasm for the new government has to be measured with a microscope. A victory so underwhelming even the Canadian dollar yawned. There can also be little doubt that the election was about Jean Charest's government of corruption and missed opportunities. With so much in need of reform in La Belle Province, the former Mulroney lieutenant frittered away a decade on drift and dithering. A government lurching from crisis to crisis.
The last decade of Quebec politics has been a testament to Jean Charest's tactical cunning. Yet even his formidable talents at baiting, blocking and obscuring did not allow him a fourth term, or even to retain his long-held seat in Sherbrooke. There is talk of him staying on as Opposition Leader. This is very doubtful. We have long since passed the age when party leaders stayed at the helm until they decided to resign. After an amazing 28 year run in politics, Charest is finished. This is not so much from the scandals that the PQ will eagerly dig up and expose now that they are in power. Instead it will be from sheer exhaustion on the part of the electorate.
The voters of Quebec are tired of seeing this brillo headed aging boy wonder.
This brings us back to Madame Marois, another tired old career politician. Did we mention that the PQ leader lives in a vast French inspired chateau? Left-wing Francophone politicians are different from you and me, they're rich as blazes. The husband of the likely next Premier of Quebec is a real estate developer. Hmm. I wonder how many of the student protesters are aware of that little tidbit? We here in Toronto have limousine Liberals. In Quebec they have chateau socialists. Very distinct indeed.
Far away from the pointless trench warfare of Quebec politics we see the Grand Master at work. Beneath the bad hair cut the enormous brain continues to plot:
Beyond his congratulations, however, the prime minister had a blunt message for Marois, who told voters during the campaign that she will push Harper to transfer federal powers to Quebec, and that the PQ will remain committed to the goal of sovereignty.
“We do not believe that Quebecers wish to revisit the old constitutional battles of the past,” Harper warned in his statement.
“Our government will remain focused on jobs, economic growth and sound management of the economy. We believe that economic issues and jobs are also the priorities of the people of Quebec.”
Translation: You ain't getting an inch, mon cher amis.
The Prime Minister is continuing his Quebec strategy over the last few years: Doing nothing. The PQ needs a WASP foil for their rhetoric, a symbol of how the ROC is smothering Quebec from being its true self. This is why they keep hoping Canada's leading WASP, the PM, blurts out something remotely critical of Quebec nationalism. Even a little tiny word that might imply that perhaps they shouldn't be treating Anglophone Quebeckers like lepers in their own province. The PQ needs an ROC villain.
Problem is that the ROC has absolutely no interest in meddling in Quebec's internal affairs. We're hesitant about politely asking that immigrants from Third World hell holes refrain from putting their wives in movable tents. Telling the Quebecois how to live? Please. We even sold out Anglophone Quebeckers just to keep the national unity peace.
By refusing to be baited the son of a Leaside accountant is playing the game cautiously. Quebec separatism, like communism, will eventually collapse due to its inherent contradictions. You can either have an independent Quebec or a socialist Quebec. The PQ has spent forty plus years promising its electorate both. The money is gone, the ROC is fed up and even the pure laine are beginning to realize none of this makes any sense. An independent Quebec would have much of the same powers over language and culture as they have now, with all the expenses of being a sovereign state added on top of an already bloated welfare state. An independent Quebec is the biggest of booby prizes.
In seeking that booby prize, Marois & Co. have narrowly obtained another: The government of Quebec. The students are protesting, the creditors are looking at the province wearily and the ROC is getting close to hitting the eject button. Given the tepid endorsement of the electorate Marois will have to backtrack on her referendum pledge. Wait for some mumbling about "winning conditions" in the days ahead. Substantively that means that Marois will take much the same position as Francois Legault and the CAQ. We're leaving, really we are, just whenever we get around to it. Probably.
Meanwhile there is a Great Big Country beyond the confines of one slowly shrinking province. The oil still flows in Alberta. The mornings are gorgeous in BC. Potash is being mined in Saskatchewan. Someone, somewhere in Ontario is figuring out how to clean up the mess left by Big Spender Dalt. Canada keeps rolling along, as it has for 145 years. It will keep rolling along even if the Quebecois do, eventually, get around to destroying themselves. Canada will always be Canada. Whatever the traitors, the spendthrifts and the parasites might think or do.
Our Fair Dominion shall extend.