Monday, January 7, 2008

Populist's Block

The Bloc québécois (BQ) intends to vote against the next federal budget in mid-February. However, the BQ can't prove to Quebeckers how wrong Canadian federalism is. We're not talking here about having a writer's block, but rather a populist's block!

On its web site, the BQ keeps affirming that Canadian federalism doesn't work for Quebec. Obviously, Pierre Paquette, the party's parliamentary leader, even said that Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper is as centralistic than the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC).

For Paquette, "despite the beautiful speeches following [Stephen Harper's] election, the Tories are not better than other Canadian parties". Besides, this MP of Joliette also added that while Harper recognizes the "Quebecker nation", he never did anything concrete in the technical practice of our federalism.

In spite of the BQ's usual laments, our current Prime Minister has done more than any other previous PMs to satisfy Quebec's interests. For instance, wasn't it Stephen Harper who proposed in his political platform to give a seat to Quebec next to Canada's at the UNESCO?

With that said, the BQ's leader Gilles Duceppe half-heartedly supported the Harper motion recognizing the "Québécois as a nation within an united Canada". This means that the BQ wasn't willing to support the Harper motion back then!

On another note, Pierre Paquette (and also Gilles Ducceppe) has no proof that the Harper government is as centralistic as the LPC. In fact, Stephen Harper did such a great move by proposing to reform the federal spending power eventually. Should this be done, the federal government can no longer handle on its own the provinces' competences.

Furthermore, unlike previous Liberal governments, Stephen Harper had the common sense to propose a way to closely control the federal spending power in order to respect the division of jurisdictions that defines federalism. Needless to remind the BQ that such an idea is advocated by many federalists nationwide.

After all, as a party that pretends to defend "Quebec's priorities", the BQ didn't even attack the LPC the day after Liberal candidate Bob Rae published an open letter in the Globe and Mail. In his letter, Rae suggested, without any nuances, that the federal spending power must not be closely controlled, because the federal government should always have a word to say in what the provinces do.

Finally, if the BQ prefers to live with the LPC, as a governing party, in Ottawa, it should really make it clear in its next election platform! Indeed, doesn't the LPC represent what the BQ's members abhor so much, that is over-centralization?

All in all, despite his faux pas in the portfolio of environment, Stephen Harper, the leader of the Conservative Party, has proposed even more ideas than former PM Pierre Elliott Trudeau to reform our federal regime in order to please Canada's provinces.

So, are the Tories more centralistic than the Liberals? Definitely not.

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