Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why Is The NDP Buckling On The Bloc?

It's sad to listen to Nycole Turmel's mea culpa's in the news as she pleads over and over that she is now and has always been a federalist. Almost half the province of Quebec are sovereignist for God's sake. It's a legitimate political stance and supporting the Bloc - a legal, mainstream party in Quebec - is entirely reasonable and nothing to apologize for. The Tories - whose roots include "Western alienation" stupidity (amongst them Stephen Harper) - have had no bones about recruiting right wing Quebec sovereignists in the past and the present. They supported the ADQ, which was a sovereignist break from the Quebec Liberals - with many of their members campaigning for that party. This whole phoney concern is such paper thin hypocrisy that it's hard to believe that it's taken seriously by anyone.

This stuff is such a pathetic joke that the NDP ought to have the guts and the brains to simply stand up to it and reveal it for what it is - bigotry and anti-democratic bullying. The danger here is that the NDP will destroy its credibility in Quebec by pulling an Apostle Peter and denying Turmel's past over and over again, alienating Quebecois workers, who flocked to the NDP in droves in the last election. And she will alienate English Canadian workers whose bullshit detectors will be blaring full blast because, having been a member of the Bloc for five years wasn't an accident. The Bloc is a significant part of the Quebec landscape and denying its legitimacy won't make the issue of Quebec's right to self-determination disappear any more than it will make the sovereignist movement disappear. Toughen up, for God's sake.

NDP’s Turmel vows to sever all sovereigntist ties - The Globe and Mail


skinny dipper said...

One thing about Canada's new dynamic is that Stephen Harper and his Conservatives do not need Quebec in order to survive.  Essentially, the Conservative Party is the de-facto party of English Canada while the NDP is the de-facto French Canadian/Quebec party.  Yes, I know Canadians in different parts of the country voted for several different parties.

One the Pample-the-Moose blogsite, there was a mention of Mme. Turmel calling herself a federalist.  However, the definition of "federalist" could mean different things to different people.  As I see it, the Conservatives are proud Canadian-unitary-federalists with a strong Conservative government as the helm of Canada.  Mme. Turmel can call herself a federalist which accepts more powers and authority to the provinces particularly Quebec.  By stoking the fires of Mme BQ past, they question her pride in Canada.  That is different from being a proud federalist. It is ethno-nationalism at its worst.

Nycole Turmel is the interim-leader of the NDP.  She does need to state her vision for Canada.  Does she want a strong unitary-type country?  Strong provinces and a weak central parliament?  Two strong bi-cultural regions of English Canada and Quebec?  Or does she want a West-Lothian Canada with Quebec having extra powers while still having a full say in Canada's central institutions?  She can call herself a federalist.  Howerver, she needs to define to Canadians what being a federalist means to her.

Shawn Whitney said...

Skinny - I see your point and I don't disagree that much. 

The NDP's position on federalism is - iirc - one of asymmetrical federalism that contains at least an implicit recognition of Quebec as a nation. The Tories, of course, had that Parliamentary vote in 2009 (?) officially recognizing Quebec as a nation - though it had no practical implications. But it was an attempt by the Tories to make a breakthrough in Quebec. And the Tories are all for unloading federal service provision (read: social expenditure) because of their ideological belief in reducing the state to the old "nightwatchman" role of yore (basically cops, military and money printing). Some in Quebec, right wing sovereignists of the ADQ stripe see this as the repatriation of national powers to Quebec. So, in terms of policies towards Quebec it's more complicated than the old centralizing vs de-centralizing dynamic. There's more of a debate about the social content and political orientation. At the moment the NDP have the upper hand in Quebec on this debate. But that doesn't mean that the Tories don't want to make a breakthrough in Quebec. Ultimately, their majority will have a limited lifespan if they can't expand there. It will also have a destabilizing effect if the country remains politically split between Quebec and the ROTC - that's why they can't bear the existence of the Bloc.

But the bigger question and the bigger problem for the NDP here is not that Turmel is a federalist of some stripe. Nobody is surprised by this - the NDP is an openly federalist party. The issue is the pathetic attempt to pretend that she sort of stumbled into a Bloc (& Quebec Solidaire) membership. Her denials will damage her credibility in both English Canada & Quebec - as it should. Left wing political leaders shouldn't try to bullshit their way to popularity.

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