Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Jeffrey Simpson writes this morning that Jean Charest only has himself to blame for his party's and his personal defeat last night. That's true -- but only partially true. For Stephen Harper also helped Pauline Marois ascend to power. Harper's neglect of Quebec gave Marois the ammunition she needed to paint Ottawa as Quebec's nemesis.
Marois doesn't have a mandate for separation. But she does have a mandate to make life difficult for Harper. And she now will throw Harper's recognition of Quebec as a nation back in his face.
The prime minister may feel that he dodged a bullet last night. But, with anger growing over the Northern Gateway pipeline, the next battle will be fought in British Columbia. And, when his recent EI "reforms" are implemented in the Maritimes, Harper will find himself heartily despised, not just in Quebec, but on Canada's east and west coasts.
Even more disturbing is the violence at last night's PQ victory celebration. If what the gunman yelled is accurate -- "Les Anglophones se reveillent -- the Anglophones are waking up!" -- things could take a nasty turn.
We would do well to remember that this country was founded on a grand bargain. Its first government contained a Scots Protestant, a French Catholic and an Irish rebel -- all noted for their eloquence. They defined governing as finding solutions which bridged cultural and geographic distances-- not obliterating their opponents. We have, of late, forgotten that notion.
The question remains: What happens next?