Stephen Harper does not play well with others. Chantal Hebert writes:
Under Harper, the First Ministers no longer gather and the unsolicited input of the premiers usually falls on deaf ears.
The adoption without compensation to the provinces of a potentially costly law-and-order agenda; the imposition of a new funding formula for medicare and the implementation of an EI reform that stands to transform the seasonal economies of parts of Quebec and Atlantic Canada are all cases in point.
Now Harper proposes to claw back funds that are used by the provinces for job training. There has been no discussion about the proposal. The prime minister conveniently ignores the fact that Canada -- from the very beginning -- has been a federation. The concept implies co-operation between constituent parts. But, Hebert writes,
In a previous life Stephen Harper advocated the creation of a provincial firewall to shelter Alberta from the policies of the federal government of the day. The concept must have stuck with him. As prime minister, he has presided over the building of an increasingly thick firewall to insulate his government from the input of the provinces.
Not only does he ignore the founding fathers, he also ignores recent Canadian history. He assumes that Quebec will live quietly in its own parallel universe, even as he gives Pauline Marois the ammunition she needs to argue for Quebec's independence:
But this comes at a sensitive juncture — with the Parti Québécois in power but also against at a time when a major backlash against the latest EI reform has been gathering steam.
The issue is gaining traction weekly in Quebec and mobilizing opponents right across the political spectrum in a way not seen since the 2008 culture cuts.
In the House of Commons on Monday, former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion read out a list of former Quebec Conservative candidates who have added their voices to the chorus that is calling on the government to rethink its EI reform.
Atlantic Canadians are as infuriated as Quebecers by Harper's EI reforms. Just as the prime minister didn't foresee the meltdown of 2008, he doesn't see the perfect storm which is headed his way.