The spin machine goes into overdrive:
Mr. Hicks said Mr. Trudeau could become, if he wins the leadership, a game changer in the national unity equation.
“There’s no one who is actually speaking for national unity at this time, so I think those numbers [of rising indifference to the possibility of a Quebec referendum] may be distorted just because the federal government’s position is very much decentralist and about provincial autonomy,” Mr. Hicks said. “They’re not waving the Canadian flag and talking about what we need to keep the country united the way that the Liberals were doing up until they lost office, and the Progressive Conservatives used to do under Brian Mulroney.
The whole article reads like it was sucked through a time-warp from the mid-1980s. The main argument here is that since no one is placating Quebec, Quebec might up and leave. Then there is the usual anti-Harperism, though a bit more intellectually expressed. The PM is a threat to national unity because he is a respecter of provincial rights. So a province that doesn't like being told what to do by Ottawa is going to get miffed because Ottawa is leaving them alone.
Follow that bouncing ball if you can.
The villain here is not even Stephen Harper, it is Pauline Marois who is just itching to launch another referendum. That's nice and it's probably also true. Why do we care? Even if you believe that Quebec has a snowball's chance in a Winnipeg summer to survive as an independent state, what makes you think Madame Marois has a mandate? She won .7% of the popular vote more than Jean Charest. Through out the election you felt the electorate was desperately trying not to have to choose between two very unpleasant options.
The recent Quebec election was not a battle cry for independence. This is not 1976 or 1994, two provincial elections that returned strong majorities in the context of a national unity crisis. There is no national unity crisis. The boomer Quebecois who were at the front-lines of the independence struggle since the 1960s are now getting rather long in the tooth. The youth of Quebec, a dwindling group of whom an increasing percentage are Allophones, are not especially enthusiastic for independence. Not that they love Canada. They just want to make sure the subsidies keep flowing.
We have a very comfortable arrangement between Quebec and the ROC. The English keep signing the checks and Quebec keeps the ransom demands to a rough minimum. As time passes this arrangement is being understood in ever more frank terms. It's a financial transaction, albeit one which if conducted by private individuals might result in criminal charges.
Having invented a crisis that doesn't exist, the above author then places Justin upon a great white horse. His father saved Canada and now the son will do the same. There are certain problems with this particular fairy tale. Even leaving aside that Justin is being recruited to solve a problem that doesn't exist, even if it did exist he is precisely the wrong man to solve it.
What does Justin offer the swinging soft separatists of Quebec? He offers his name. In certain circles in Montreal or Toronto that name can cause a tizzy. But into the hinterlands of La Belle Province the name Trudeau rhymes very easily with vendu, sell out. Having nothing to offer but his luscious hair and important father, he therefore has nothing to offer these voters. They hated his father and have no problem voting for a bald man with an easy charm and sharp pandering skills.
Therein lies the deeper issue of Justin as Saviour of the nation. Even if voters in Quebec were to look past his lineage, his lack of substance, his razor thin resume and worn out rhetoric, the clear brand idea he does have won't sell. If Justin Trudeau stands for anything it is for a strong federal government. This message simply isn't going to resonate anywhere in Quebec, the West or increasingly in parts of Ontario that feel exploited by Quebec's repeated extortion attempts.
Justin Trudeau cannot save Canada from a problem that doesn't exist, using abilities he hasn't got with an approach no one wants. Even his much vaunted ability to connect with the young is of limited value. The youth might be ignorant and apathetic, as they traditionally have been, but they are not despite most appearances stupid. They understand, in that easy cynicism which is their trademark, that politicians are manipulators. Justin has a different shtick that Tommy Mulcair, but they are both after power.
If Justin Trudeau is going to save the country it's by destroying the Liberal Party. Without a viable middle ground it will hopefully make it easier for the Conservative Party to provide a genuine conservative platform.
At least one hopes.