Storm clouds continue to gather around Nycole Turmel. She is not the first federalist politician who has flirted with Quebec nationalism. John English has documented Pierre Trudeau's early affinity for the narcissistic currents of Quebec politics; and many people forget that the former mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, first entered public life as a member of the Bloc Nationale -- an earlier incarnation of the Bloc Quebecois.
Anyone who knows anything about Quebec politics should not be surprised by any of these revelations. The political significance of St. Jean Baptiste Day is part of Quebecers' DNA. So Ms. Turmel's former political affiliations are not unusual.
Still, they place her and her party in a bind -- simply because most of English Canada will not understand what is a fact of life in Quebec. Robert Silver, in the Globe and Mail, echoes what will haunt Turmel:
This should be devastating news for the NDP. It casts a clear light on the dangerous game they’ve been playing in Quebec from the Sherbrooke Declaration on down the line.
Ms. Turmel's resignation from the Bloc, for "personal reasons," is even more troubling. Turmel says she joined the Bloc to support a friend, Carole Lavellee, the member for St. Bruno-St. Hubert. Political convictions should go much deeper than friendship.
But, most of all, these recent revelations make Turmel and her party fodder for the Conservative attack machine. It should be clear after five years that the prime minister is a nasty piece of work. In Bob Rae's memorable phrase, he "throws for the head." Mr. Harper and his minions will wrap themselves in the flag and attack Turmel as they attacked Stephane Dion and Micheal Ignatieff. Civility and decency are not part of their DNA.
Barack Obama's fatal flaw is that he misread his opposition. One hopes the NDP has not done the same.