Thursday, September 01, 2011

Harper and Quebec


The most telling detail about Stephen Harper's appointment of Angelo Perischilli as his new Communications Director is that Perischilli doesn't speak French. He may, indeed, be able to reach out to other linguistic communities. He has been, after all, the political editor of  Corriere Canadese.

However, he reaches a much larger audience in The Toronto Star, where he wrote during the last election campaign that:

 Many are tired of the annoying lament from a province that keeps yelling at those who pay part of its bills and are concerned by the over-representation of francophones in our bureaucracy, our Parliament and our institutions.

Whatever you thought of Jack Layton's political principles, it was undeniable that he connected with Canadians  -- in both languages. A recent poll suggests that Mr. Harper's numbers have gone up in Quebec. But the appointment of Perischelli also suggests that Mr. Harper believes he doesn't need Quebec to accomplish his goals.

A better student of history -- particularly Conservative history -- would know that it was the Diefenbaker government's total disregard of Quebec's aspirations which radicalized Rene Levesque. Canada's existence has never been as simple as one man/one vote.

As is so many other ways, the Harper government is trying to turn back the clock. And the results could be catastrophic.


ck said...

French Quebec has never heard of Angelo Perischilli. They don't read the Star. I do, however, have faith that the French papers like Le Devoir and writers like l'Actualite's Jean-Francois Lisee, will take care of that in short order.

Right now, sovereignty is dormant. The Bloc may have fallen on May 2. Provincially, the sovereignty movement is, at best, fragmented. The Parti-Quebecois is in shambles and now, Francois Legault's center-right 'movement'--that fictitious party is leading in the polls.

However, for a short while, following the May 2 election, according to Lisee's blog, PQ membership sales did go up. There was a bit of a panic.

It's only been a few months since the May 2 election of Harper's majority, and already, he ignored the plight of the Richelieu flood victims (while he had visited Manitoba flood victims and Slave Lake fire victims and promised them federal aid) until it became convenient for him to pay attention to them. Folks in the Richelieu Valley were none too amused and were telling the media that they believed it was Harper's way of getting back at them for not voting Conservative. They probably have a point. Remember when Larry Smith opened his mouth about how those ridings who vote Conservative would have more consideration than those who don't?

The Nycole Turmel witch hunts certainly sent a negative message to Nationalists. It basically told them that they are not allowed to change their minds. The Bloc, PQ and other supporters and movements are treated like the Mafia.

The renaming to Royal Canadian Airforce and Royal Canadian Navy was not helpful and seemed a deliberate move to shove Harper's beloved British monarchy down French Quebec's throats.

Then, there is that Gerrymandering that will likely be happening on the part of Harper. 30 new seats in Ontario, Alberta and BC. I did the math. Assuming Quebec would remain with 23% of Canada's population, that would drop Quebec's seat representation to 22%.

Quebec has no appetite for Harper's proposed tough on crime ideas. We don't believe in locking up 14 year olds with hardened adult criminals where they will learn to be just like them.

Now, Angelo Perischilli and all of his anti-Quebec Francophone sentiment.

And parliament hasn't even sat yet for the Fall session. I'm pretty sure Harper will get more hideous with Quebec as time goes on.

There were rumours of Jean Charest calling a snap election this Fall, but now, given that Francois Legault will likely transform his little coalition into a party as early as October, and that rumour has it he will merge with the ADQ, Charest will probably think twice and finish the mandate til 2013, as originally scheduled.

I think by then, especially if Harper gets more hideous with Quebec, and surely, he will, hiring Perischilli pretty much saw to that, Pauline Marois will be forced out the door of her own party and the sovereigntists will restart their engines.

As for the federal scene, I honestly believe that either the Bloc will make a comeback or those young NDPers elected in normally separatist strongholds in the 819 and 418 regions will probably break from their party and get together with old Bloquistes and other Nationalists to form another Quebec centric nationalist party.

I honestly believe that no matter who the new NDP leader will be, they will find themselves having to make a choice; the Quebec caucus which has a very low membership, or maintaining support of their English Canadian base, particularly those out west who, much like their Conservative counterparts, don't have much use for Francophone Quebec nationalists, no matter how soft they are.

Anonymous said...

Well, the NDP are doing well in Quebec, and they're a federalist party (for all the whining and spinning by Con media personalities). Steven Harper does not want the NDP doing well.

The more difficult solution to this problem is to stop fucking over the country in the service of amoral foreign entities (corps, USA) so that Canadians don't feel the need to turn to the NDP. The easy solution is to demonize and make Quebec want to separate again and vote Bloc.

Bonus points for making sure angry, culturally-intolerant westerners are still on your side. The fact that they're so loud makes it easy for your media to sell that spin too.

Owen Gray said...

Your review of the Quebec political scene, ck, shows how out of touch the Harper government is.

Anyone who knows Quebec is aware of Harper's willful ignorance of the province.

The problem is that his ignorance could completely alienate Quebecers of all stripes. In fact, he's well on his way to doing that now.

Owen Gray said...

The Harperite base came to Ottawa to get even. Now, with a majority, it's full speed ahead.