Via Flickr/Montreal metropole culturelle
Right now, there is a threat to Canada, toiling in the balmy locks of Scotland. Waiting. Planning.
It’s not the Loch Ness Monster, nor is it Islamist radicals. And no, it’s not Sean Connery.
It’s Pauline Marois.
Marois is visiting the Scots this weeks in an apparent attempt to stalk Scottish leader and independence crusador Alex Salmond (or, according to Marois, Alex Salmon.) Salmond refused to be seen publicly with Marois. The two met privately, and apparently stayed up late, did each other’s hair and read from Cosmo’s “31 ways to give amazing referendum.”
Marois’ trip has laid the stage to lay bare her five-year plan for destroying Canada.
Yet, as is evidenced in an interview with the BBC — she doesn’t appear to have one.
“Now, as you know, we have to work very hard because the population of Quebec is not convinced at this moment. If you have a poll you could see that approval of sovereignty is maybe at 40% or 42%.”
Later in the interview:
“We will hold a referendum when we are ready: when we will think the population is ready to say yes. If we are able to have the support of the population, we will not hold a referendum during our mandate. […] If we have the majority, we will work to convince the population of Quebec, and if we think we succeed, we could have a referendum.”
Marois goes on to say that she won’t be holding a referendum if people are busy thinking about other things. She wouldn’t want to distract them.
Now, you may think, Marois is a sovereigntist! Shouldn’t she be delivering this address in french while crying and shovelling ice-cream into her face?
No, damnit, Pauline Marois is a new brand of sovereigntist!
During that BBC interview, Marois points out that the Scottish National Party — who seem destined for a spectacular defeat that will undoubtedly leave some Quebec separatists smirking with Schadenfreude — have won a landmark de-evolution of powers from London. That, she says, it her goal.
Meanwhile, in Ottawa, parliamentarians are screaming at each other over the impending third referendum, as I wrote about yesterday.
It all seems rather bizarre. Marois: the crypto-federalist?
But consider the following: referendums are haaaaaaaaard.
Marois has made no secret of her master plan. Since her election in September, she’s taken on every issue as an opportunity to claw back more powers for Quebec from the federal government. Not new, surely, but it has perhaps never taken on a central tenet for the Parti Quebecois.
The veraciousness of Marois’ bid to increase Quebec’s autonomy is interesting.
Much has been made of her supposed plans to make education free, imprison anglophones, and something something fascism. Not much has been detailed about the Marois Doctrine.
Looking back at the previous sovereigntist leaders of Quebec, few have given Marois the credit she deserves for breaking the mould.
- Rene Levesque: The patriarch of the party, Levesque brought about the first referendum and drove the ‘Oui’ side to a pretty decisive defeat. The time spent after that was a combination of nation building — reforming the political system and strengthening the french language — and economic management.
- Jacques Parizeau: A minister in Leveque’s government, his sole raison d’etre was to hold a referendum. He won a majority government in 1994, lost the referendum 1% in 1995, and resigned in 1996.
- Lucien Bouchard: Avoided a referendum. Fought the deficit. Resigned.
- Bernard Landry: Wanted a referendum. Didn’t get one. Resigned.
So as you can see from my brief history of the Parti Quebecois’ time in government, there wasn’t a whole lot of focus on creating long-term policy. It’s either: run, win, referendum, lose, resign; or: take over, don’t referendum, resign. The Liberals and Bloc Quebecois can brag that they’ve done more Quebec’s independence than the PQ, with the advent of the federal ‘Quebec-exception clause’ that has ensured much of Quebec’s transfer money comes with strings, and individual programs that have given Quebec free reign, like immigration.
The PQ has also never faced a minority government in their history. So Marois’ tenure holds an interesting prospect for exactly what she wants to do with the party, and with Quebec.
As I wrote for Maclean’s a few weeks back, one of her coups may be coming within weeks, if the rumours are true. It looks like she’ll be taking over a federal commitment to put cops on the streets. It’s a coup that shows Quebec can assume the managerial role of an increasingly austere federal government.
But on top of that, there is a myriad of federal-provincial spats that could result in Marois snatching the reigns away from the evil buggy driver that is Stephen Harper. Marois have moved to create her own long gun registry, take control over the province’s share of Canada’s foreign aid money, and give Quebec more power on trade deals and industrial projects.
What’s more, is that it may prove very successful.
In a time when Ottawa’s natural resource planning is tilting Westward, its manufacturing strategy is looking to rebuild Ontario and its social policy is nearly non-existent, it makes sense that Quebec should assume more control of its destiny. Its position of being an important resource exporter — on the cusp of being a superpower — while still maintaing a sizeable manufacturing and research sectors puts it in need of more self-control. Nevermind its unique social, ethnic, language and cultural spheres.
Sure, this may lead to growing support for ‘yes’ on the next referendum, as Marois might really just be looking to whet Quebecers’ appetites, but it may also pacify the sovereigntist hoards who have been seeing ‘Oui’ as the solution to all their problems.
Just the same, Pauline, enjoy your time in Scotland. And learn how to pronounce ‘Edinburgh.’