John Ibbitson writes in this morning's Globe that the Harper government is quietly preparing for a Parti Quebecois victory in Quebec. The Harperites are busy mapping out their game plan:
The Prime Minister will declare that he has no mandate from the Canadian people to negotiate with a separatist government over a series of measures that would lead to the slow-motion breakup of the country.
He will say as well that the Conservative government remains focused on the economy: on creating jobs, improving productivity, expanding trade and eliminating the deficit. He will urge the government in Quebec to do likewise. This is Plan A.
But, should Pauline Marois call a referendum, Harper will be up the creek. His decisions to elevate the Queen, to kill the long gun registry, and to abandon the Kyoto Accord offend Quebecers of all political stripes. In fact, Harper has been rubbing Quebec's nose in the dirt ever since he was elected -- which accounts for the five seats he holds in the province.
That, writes Ibbitson, is why the Conservatives need Pan B -- which would involve Thomas Mulcair: "Mr. Mulcair has deep roots in the province, served in Jean Charest’s cabinet, and loves a good fight."
If ever there was a Hail Mary Pass, the Conservative Plan B is it. But what is even more interesting is Ibbitson's claim that:
At all costs, the Tories want to prevent the revival of the Liberal Party in Quebec. If Justin Trudeau were to become Liberal Leader, they would not want to see him emerging as the next generation’s champion of federalism in French Canada, and would do nothing to encourage him in that role.
The force that has driven Stephen Harper and the party he built is a pathological hatred of Pierre Trudeau. It would be more than ironic if Trudeau's son rose -- like Marley's ghost -- to haunt Stephen Harper's days and nights.