Monday, March 10, 2014

Quel Surprise!

Well that did not take long.  Early in the first week of the Quebec election campaign Ms. Marois had to give the usual non-answer to the question of whether she will hold a referendum if she wins a majority government.  This has been a pattern for leaders of the PQ since the 1995 referendum loss.

You really cannot blame her. 

There is an aging and shrinking minority of Quebecers who support independence as a matter of principle and they expect a PQ premier to make it happen.  If Ms. Marois actually came out and stated that she would not hold a referendum because it is likely that she could not manufacture the "winning conditions" during a four year term there is a real threat that these people would stay home on election day and without them Ms. Marois loses.

Unfortunately for her, the broader Quebec society does not want another referendum and I would even say that at the moment they have no interest in independence.  This applies not just to federalists but to many of those Quebecers who would describe themselves as Quebec nationalists.  These folks care more about such things as the economy and other issues not having to do with independence and they do not want another round of divisive, acidic independence debates to divert attention away from those issues.

Hence the waffling on the referendum question from Ms. Marois.

Ms. Marois will probably win the election for the simple reason that Quebecers are probably not ready to hand the government back to the Quebec Liberals so soon after turfing them out.  Enough Quebecers probably still believe that the Liberals have not had a sufficient enough time out from government yet.

So will Ms. Marois call a referendum if she wins a majority government?  Probably not.

As I stated in my last post the next referendum, if it happens, will be the last regardless of the outcome and the PQ has to win it or they pretty much lose their reason for existence.  In addition they will have to win a decisive enough victory in any referendum to prevent those who lost from using the Clarity Act to fight results

How can they do that?  Pick a fight with the Feds?  On what issue?  Others before her tried but really there is just no issue out there that has the ability to fire up the passions of Quebecers enough for them to consider independence.

In addition, for any referendum to succeed the PQ must convince some of the ethnic groups around Montreal to back independence as the 1995 referendum demonstrated.  There are just not enough Fracophone Quebecers willing to take the chance on independence to carry the day on their own.  They need to convince some francophone ethnic groups as well.

That will be hard to do when the PQ is fighting an election on a Charter that essentially makes new Quebecers, particularly of non-European stock, second class citizens.  If that Charter is passed the PQ can kiss any chance of these people supporting their pet project during a referendum.

Which is why I believe that if the PQ wins a majority government they will water down the Values Charter so much as to make it meaningless while Ms. Marois appoints her version of Jason Kenney to go out and woo the very people she is currently alienating.

Not that such measures will actually work to build enough support for independence within a useful enough time frame for the PQ. 

Ms. Marois is trying to win a majority government, not because she particularly wants to have a referendum any time soon, but because that is what governments do in this country.  If she is successful she will try to build a coalition of Quebecers who support independence but I would not bet too much money on her chances of success.  Unfortunately, unless she can find an issue to fire the passions of Quebecers and she can convince enough new Quebecers to support independence she does not have much of a chance of succeeding.

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