Michael Ford (post until Oct. 31/19)
Administrative & Government

Talk of Quebec's separation heating up

By Jeremy Richler

Just when we thought the question of national unity had receded from discussion, the possibility of Quebec's separation from Canada is once again rearing its head with full vibrato.

By all outward appearances, the Parti Quebecois have the wind in their sails. It would seem with a flailing economy and mounting job losses in Quebec that the economy would take precedence and the national unity question a backseat.

However, PQ Leader Pauline Marois is a shrewd, calculating politician whose scheming cannot be underestimated. First, her government implemented the very controversial Quebec Charter of Values. The charter's essence and spirit of division is an arguable, if not probable, violation of Canada's cherished Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Yet this calculated wedge has proven to be a successful first 'winning condition' to launch this election. She can use it to say that its popularity in Quebec and revulsion across the rest of Canada demonstrates, yet again, that Quebec has its own set of values, and is indeed a very separate nation.

By naming billionaire media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau as a candidate in St Jerome, Marois is halting the leftward tilt accustomed to the PQ in bringing in a right-wing, union-busting business titan into its supposed social democratic ranks.

Although this move is controversial, and bound to drive at least some left-wing votes away from the PQ to the Quebec Solidaire, Marois could attract right-of-centre businesspeople from what are usually more federalist ranks into the separatist tent. It is potential wind in her sails that cannot be ignored.

None of this is cause for immediate panic. Support for sovereignty remains stuck at 39 per cent, and there are no major constitutional grievances with the rest of Canada – at least not recently.

With a power base in Canada that has been shifting west, a Conservative government seemingly indifferent to the hopes and aspirations of Quebec, and an underlying sense that Quebec and the rest of Canada are drifting apart, Marois has reawakened the dormant yearning for sovereignty at the core for many in La Belle Province.

If Canada does not heed the call and make a passionate case for unity, a referendum with all the winning conditions to satisfy the PQ in realizing its dream could happen.

It's early in the first period of this new game, but Canada must show all of its fervor and zeal to carry the game,; and the country.

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