2009/08/23

We love minority governments

According to a poll published in yesterday's La Presse [Google translation], 29.7% of Québec's residents have a positive appreciation of the work that has been done by the three consecutive minority governments we've had since 2004. Based on a national average of 18.5%, the corresponding average in other provinces is at 15.2%. Compared to the rest of the country, Québec's support for a minority government is almost double. This discrepancy could be explained by Québec voters' liking for a federal government having to cope with the Bloc's demands to carry on. This perspective is in sharp contrast to a Canadian Press report by Jennifer Ditchburn titled "Canadians grow weary of minority government" published by The Globe and Mail on July 13th, 2009.

Never, since the merging of the Progressive Conservative and Reform parties in 2003, has the Bloc's pertinence in Ottawa been so blatant to the Québécois. In the ten years that preceded that merger, Canada's natural governing party achieved majority simply because right-wing votes were divided.

The future is bleak for Canadians looking forward to a majority government. Some have already recognized the hurdle the Bloc has become and are juggling with ideas to limit its reach. In a column titled "Knock a chip off the old Bloc" published by The Globe and Mail on August 15th, 2009, Andrew Stark questions the party-allowance formula. He submits that the principle of federalism could take precedence over popular votes. In order to get an allowance, for example, a party could need to have elected representatives in a minimum number of provinces. Isn't ironic to think that the party-allowance formula, aimed at cleaning up political practices, was inspired from a Québec legislation introduced by René Lévesque himself?

Along with the sovereignty movement, the Bloc has been boasting the democratic path it has chosen. Many obviously don't agree with its purpose, but most have behaved as though they recognized its legitimacy since it was created in 1991. Now that the Bloc's presence in Ottawa has finally gotten some people scratching their heads, someone thinks that changing the rules, in lieu of addressing the root cause, would help federalism in Québec and Canadian unity? I think not.

What on Earth is wrong with Canadians? Don't they realize that the Québécois aren't satisfied with the federal status quo?... that the majority of those who voted "yes" in 1995 aren't bluenecks, but good citizens contemplating a democratic alternative to the status quo?... that the vast majority of Québécois would be interested in an alternative other than sovereignty?... that such an alternative can only come from Ottawa?... that they are the ones holding the key to the sovereignty movement's demise?... that the sovereignty movement is as legitimate as the thrust that made Canada into a sovereign state in 1867?... that they need to understand what motivates the Québécois in order to address it properly?... that they can't simply shove the whole idea by the way side?

Come on Canadians... aren't you tired of being politically strangled by a province? Apart from a few lows, support for sovereignty has remained above the 40% mark and has plagued federal politics for the last 30 years. It's an intrinsic part of the political landscape. It's not going to simply fade away! Is the great Canadian tolerance mere indifference? What are you waiting to give the sovereigntist's proposal a balanced democratic response that would steer voters away?

2 comments:

James said...

Pure Laine,

Keep in mind, Andrew Stark does not speak for most of the ROC.

Keep in mind, too, that a minority government may recieve support from over a quarter of Quebecois, but that's still almost three quarters who are frustrated by it. Being slightly less frustrated than the rest of us is no great feat.

Finally, while the Bloc may put on an impressive show, they really aren't doing that great a job of putting Quebec front and centre.

Generally, the tendancy has become to try to circumvent the Bloc. If Quebec had more MPs in nation-wide parties, they'd have more say at the negotiating table. As it stands, most MPs are kept away from the table as much as possible.

Indeed, since the Bloc's raison d'etre is ultimately to split up Canada, any cause it champions immediately comes under greater suspicion. Duceppe standing up and supporting something co-supporters from ROC dread.

Something to think about when contemplating a Quebec within Canada.

To quote Laurier: If the French of this country ever formed a party of their own, they would provoke the English to do the same. The result would be terrible for Quebec.

Seperatism and Federalism are two debateable positions of virtue.

This current half-life of Quebec in federal politics is ruinous.

Michel Bolduc said...

Yes, this current half-life of Quebec in federal politics is ruinous. And I would add that it's ruinous for the whole country.

However, I don't agree when you write that more Québec MPs in nation-wide parties, would have more say at the negotiating table. That's how it was before the Bloc came to be (see The Bloc Québécois is useless).

My main point is about the indifference that lead to the current situation. The sovereignty movement may currently be at a low, but on the first occasion, it will rise again.

The solution to this situation involves Ottawa, if Canadians allow it.