Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Is this a political crisis, constitutional crisis or a national unity crisis?

Judging by the increasingly strident and shrill arguments from the Conservatives they would seem to believe the latter. Some of them are saying that the coalition as it stands would cause a huge jump in western seperatism while others are howling at the idea of the coalition governing with the support of *gasp* the Bloc Quebecois.

Of course it is all BS.

In the west there has never been much of a seperatist movement. There are certainly a number of wingnuts who have a talent for getting themselves noticed but when westerners are asked about whether they wish to go their own way the percentage that say yes are always in the single digits, even in Alberta the "hotbed" of western alienation. Of course, that does not stop politicians, usually Conservative politicians, from talking up the "threat". Some might argue that the method of the ouster of the Conservatives (if it comes to pass) may cause an upsurge in seperatist sentiment. That is a dubious argument at the best of times and downright silly in the current economic climate. If the Alberta economy were still booming and oil prices were still around $150/barrel we might see an uptick in support but it would not be enough to even touch the support for sovereignty in Quebec when it is at its lowest ebb. With oil prices at around $50/barrel and a severe credit crisis most westerners, including Albertans, will have the same concerns that every Canadian has right now. What is going to happen to my job? My house? My kids' education? I would make a substantial wager that even amongst the Conservative "base" there are those that agree that the economy needs stimulating, although they would prefer the Conservatives to do it instead of the coalition.

In Quebec there is no appetite for seperation or even sovereignty association at the moment. The PQ is running a distant second behind Jean Charest and Gilles Duceppe owes the positive results in the most recent general election, in part, to Mr. Harper and his ill considered attacks on the arts. If Mr. Harper would not have made that big miscalculation he would probably not have to be worrying about any non-confidence motions on Monday.

As has been pointed out the idea of having a say in how the country is governed seems to appeal to Quebecers. The polls say so and so does the generally positive coverage the coalition is receiving from the french language newspapers in Quebec. Would it not be interesting if Quebecers became used to that and decided they wanted more?

I think that is one of the possible side effects of this whole affair. Quebecers stopped caring about the governance of Canada 15 years ago and had not been showing any signs of warming to the idea any time soon.

This coalition could change all of that. If it does, the Conservatives are really going to rue the day they went so over the top attacking the Bloc and the people who voted for it. The reason being is if Quebecers decide that they want to re-engage in governing the country many will turn to national parties to achieve that goal. The actions of the Conservatives in the last couple of days could very well cause those Quebecers to turn to the other national parties, particularly the Liberals.

So, the actions of Mr. Harper today could be sowing the seeds of the eventual political defeat of his successor sometime in the future.

Is that what they mean by karma?


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