“It’s all their fault!” One could just see Minister of State Maxine Bernier (or a cartoon caricature of the man) shouting, jumping up and down on his commons seat, one finger pointed accusingly across the floor to his nemesis, the closet cause of Quebec separatism, and the Mr. Anti-Canadian Federalism; Justin Trudeau!
If I hadn’t read it on the CBC I would have thought his statements were a farce! But no, the Hon. Mon. Bernier dangles the threat of a referendum on Quebec separation before the eyes of Canadians; if the Liberals are elected to the government in 2015. Clearly it’s the Liberals who encroach most on provincial rights, and there is an obvious correlation between Liberal Governments at the Federal Level and the rise of separatism in Quebec!
Bernier accuses the Hon. Mr. Trudeau of stomping on the toes of the provinces sacred monopoly over things like education. Yes, because its not as if two years ago Bernier’s own party supported a federally regulated, explicitly Canadian history program upon the provinces. Maybe the Hon. Mr. Moore forgot to brief his colleague on this initiative in the past two years?
Yes, that’s what must have happened, for who could forget the uproar that created!
Granted he might have a point about the Conservative Party of Canada being the best party for a Federalist nation…Although Sir. John A. Macdonald, our first Conservative Prime Minister hated the Federalist system, and Stephen Harper has been no friend to it either as we’ve seen of late. Perhaps we could have misconstrued his giving the provinces the proverbial finger, abandoning Senate reform after being informed of his obligation to consult the province, and botched Supreme Court appointments-not unlike Brian Mulroney…but Mr. Harper doesn’t enjoy playing nicely with the provinces and they don’t like playing with him either.
For example, Quebec has gotten the shortest end of the Federal stick in a very long time. That it’s Quebec’s own son, Maxime Bernier, who is doing the finger shaking is almost just as bad.
He complains that whenever the Feds give money to Quebec, it is never enough and Quebec should just get over being poor and work on trying to be rich again. This is a Canadian politician right? Did Texas finally annex Alberta? We all saw it coming… If this is still a Canadian politician, then he should also remember that his government has said the exact same thing about the other (presumptively) greedy provinces.
This country is supposed to be a partnership between the Federal Government and the Province in things like social services (Health Care, Education, Pensions, etc.). Funding was originally envisioned years ago as a 50/50 split. Now the provinces are left with the lions share of the provision and nothing to provide.
Now, by far the most startling accusation of Bernier is that Liberal governments lead to a rise in Quebec separatism. Now, all Conservatives are clearly heaving a sigh of relief with the centre right Parti Liberal du Quebec ensconced in Quebec City with a solid four year mandate. Four years where separation will be off the table. Bernier is correct that it has been Liberal government’s which have dealt with the two referendums on Quebec sovereignty. The first was led by Trudeau the elder and resulted in a definitive win for the NO side with nearly 60%, approximately the same percentage of Quebecers who oppose sovereignty today. In 1995 it was Jean Chretien, who somewhat fumbled the campaign leading to a narrower victory for the NO side, but a victory nevertheless.
What Bernier might be forgetting is that the first referendum, the one of 1980, was called during the Clarke administration and until Trudeau was re-elected it looked like the separatists would get what they wanted. Bernier also seems to forget that it was from the ashes of the Progressive Conservative Party that the Bloc Quebecois arose in 1993 to become the Official Opposition. You would think he would at least recall that one of his Minister of State forbears, Lucien Bouchard, would later leave federal politics to fight for the YES side in the 1995 referendum and would then rule the province of Quebec as premier with an iron leg -all that he had left from surviving the crash and burn of the Progressive Conservatives. It’s no wonder that the Bloc arose at that time, after the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney completely bungled the Meech Lake -ensuring that proper decentralization wouldn’t happen.
It seems that these days that neither the Liberal or Conservatives embrace the federalism envisioned by Quebecers-especially with the Conservatives only have five seats in the province.
I call on Mr. Bernier to remember the old adage that “He who points a finger, has three pointed back at him.” For Bernier has pointed his finger at Trudeau the younger and the Liberals-and I think they’ve pointed them right back at him.