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The Article

PQ resurgence bad for Liberals but could be good for Canada

Let’s all take great relish in the perspiring and perplexed images of Prime Minister Paul Martin and Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew spluttering over the election of Andre Boisclair as leader of the Parti Quebecois.

Images to savour.

As were the heartwarming scenes of Boisclair and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe clasping hands together as they envisaged what their mutual forces could do to the status quo in their own province and in Canada as a whole.

The malfeasance of the Martin regime, and its predecessor, the Jean Chretien cabal, have spurred a dynamic renewal of the separatist movement in Quebec, and have certainly given legitimacy to the fledgling separatist sentiment in Alberta.

Martin, Pettigrew and the entire tarnished Liberal machine have brought the coming debacle—which will tear the nation apart and turn it upside-down or rightside-up depending on your point of view—upon themselves.

My guessing is it will turn our nation rightside-up.

A poll conducted for the Financial Post amongst business leaders found 62% believe the Parti Quebecois will oust Premier Jean Charest’s Liberal government come the provincial election expected in 2007.

Now, Charest is an extremely likable fellow. I chatted with him several times when he was leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives, but anything causing dismay and frustration to the Grits makes my heart beat a little more joyfully.

No, a lot more joyfully.

Yours, too, likely.

Come the next federal election the Bloc is set to add to its 54 seats and take perhaps 65 or 70 ridings in Quebec.

Martin’s Grits will be just a rump party there after that.

When—it’s not if—the Parti Quebecois wins the next Quebec provincial election—the two separatist parties will have formed a formidable front.

We’ll have a constitutional crisis on our hands the likes of which few of us have seen in our lifetimes.

All due to Liberal incompetence, corruption and conniving.

Fuelled more recently by the AdScam affair and Mr. Justice John Gomery’s findings, but anchored more solidly on several decades of Liberal Ottawa’s undermining of provincial rights, the Liberals have finally exhausted the patience not only of separatists but decent Quebecers.

OK, OK, so Duceppe and Boisclair want to “tear the country apart” as commentators are fond of saying and the Liberals, as only they are fond of saying, are the only ones who can keep it together.

Well, this charade is finally collapsing before all our eyes. Even those usually blinkered eyes in Ontario.

The only way to halt the march of Quebec separatism—if it can now be halted—is for a huge retrenchment of federal power to the provinces.

Since it was the Liberals, initially under Pierre Trudeau, who instigated the onslaught against the provinces, it is unlikely they can make a 180-degree turn.

That would be hypocrisy writ large.

Only Stephen Harper’s Conservatives can offer Quebecers what they legitimately want to have their province stay in Confederation.

Just as only Preston Manning’s western-based Reform party could have wooed Quebec, or Stockwell Day’s Canadian Alliance, too.

My betting is distrust of the Liberals in Quebec—no, make that contempt—will grow in the months to come.

The reason is the Liberals no longer know how to counter the new rise—and the new face—of separatism, so they’ll panic and do things that will only stir divisiveness.

Such as Pettigrew calling all the previous PQ leaders—Rene Levesque, Jacques Pariseau, Lucien Bouchard and Bernard Landry—“losers”.

Now that’s a real way to rebuild your bridges amongst an angry population.

You won’t hear Harper’s Conservatives bad-mouthing those former PQ leaders or Boisclair and Duceppe.

What you’ll hear are the Conservatives making sensible overtures to Quebec—and all other Canadian provinces, particularly Alberta—on a strengthening of provincial rights.

The bottom line is Boisclair’s win, Boisclair’s partnership with Duceppe, and the unfolding scenario is good for Quebec and good for Canada.

But very, very bad for Martin and Company.

Paul Jackson
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