by Eric Duhaime
It is always risky to plan a funeral for the separatist movement in Quebec.
Former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau learned that the hard way, 36 years ago, when he announced “separatism is dead,” just three months before the Parti Quebecois won its first election to form government on Nov. 15, 1976.
Times have, however, changed and we could truly help to hasten the demise of the separatist movement as we’ve known it over the past half-century. The trend is there.
Separatist sociologist and commentator Mathieu Bock-Cote wrote a book earlier this year, Fin de cycle (End of a cycle), to elaborate on the changing mindset of Quebecers.
Every election over the last decade in Quebec has seen voters being tempted to change their political colours.
They only seem to agree on one thing — they are fed up with the old constitutional feuds.
Like everyone else in the western world, they would like to vote on how much tax they pay and what kind of public services they can expect in return.
Be careful, however, not to draw the wrong conclusions about Quebecers’ frustration with the old battles.
They are not necessarily turning their back on the ideal of Quebec becoming a country.
Many of us remain nationalists, separatists or federalists; we just occasionally like to have the option to vote on all of the other issues we care about when it comes time to go to the polls.
Quebec is also becoming more and more economically dependent on the rest of Canada.
Forced to choose, many Quebecers aren’t quite so sure we have the means or the prospects to go it alone economically (see Greece).
But what is good for the Quebec goose right now could be perceived as being bad for the Canada gander.
Earlier this week, Sun News released a new poll showing more than one in four Canadians would vote in favour of kicking la belle province out of the club.
That is the kind of signal the separatists are hoping for. They need a champion to pick a fight with.
Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois has been trying hard over the past two weeks to polarize the separatists against the federalists, Ottawa against Quebec.
Unfortunately, for her own political future, no one is biting on the Ottawa end of the fight.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is wisely staying quiet, letting Quebecers decide without interference.
If the PQ cannot pick a fight against a nasty centralist in Ottawa, they could be in very serious trouble on Sept. 4.
Believe it or not, the separatists in Quebec badly miss their historical enemy, the Trudeau federal Liberals, and how they would divide and conquer.
So here is my prediction: The PQ will see the floor collapse under their feet on election night, the same way it happened to the Bloc in the last federal election.
Stay tuned and resist the urge to tell the separatists to buzz off.
Leave that to Quebec voters.
Categories: Contributor Columns