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federalism

I’m taking these results with a big shakerful of salt: A new CROP poll finds that a majority of Quebecers – 63% – are proud to be Canadian, and that 71% feel the sovereignty debate is a thing of the past:

In another sign that Quebecers are rejecting decades of political debate surrounding the Quebec sovereignty issue, the poll found that respondents were reluctant to identify themselves with traditional ideological brands. Only 19 per cent identified themselves as sovereignists, 20 per cent as federalists, 17 per cent as nationalists and eight per cent as autonomists.

The biggest portion of respondents – 37 per cent – did not identify themselves with any of those categories.

Which raises the question of terminology and phrasing. I’m not convinced that the national identity debate is dead; I think it’s just going through a re-branding. Words like “nationalism” and “sovereignty” are turning off the current generation – in both languages. But the sharp divide still remains, possibly reinforced by the Harper government’s massive lack of popularity here in Quebec.

Another thing going on here might be a sense of security. Quebecers, thanks to two generations of protections, now feel like their identity is less threatened than ever before. At the same time, they’re extending beyond borders. The struggles of today are more global and less local in scope, and the nationalism debate is going to naturally seem outdated to a bilingual francophone from HoMa who is organizing a G8 protest and campaigning for human rights in North Africa.

The point is, I don’t think that Quebecers feel more Canadian than they do in the past. I think they’re just less interested in talking constitutional debate.

Still, this is the first cautionary piece of good news that we’ve seen on the federalist side in ages. I’d like to see some reinforcing polling numbers over time, but it could mean good news in terms of how the next provincial election debate will be shaped. Especially if Francois Legault keeps beating the “beyond sovereignty” drum and forcing the other parties to talk about something else. Like, maybe healthcare, or infrastructure, or the economy, or issues of real concern to Quebecers of all political stripes.

One can hope, anyway.

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Oh, this is just brilliant:

A former Harper cabinet minister’s politically radical idea that Quebec be required — by law — to hold an independence referendum every 15 years is being swiftly mocked.

Michael Fortier, the Tories’ one-time public-works minister, argued Thursday that mandatory referendums would actually help Quebec move beyond its eternal unity debates.

Referendums brought Canada to the brink of rupture in 1980 and 1995 but, Fortier says, mandatory plebiscites would at least ensure 14 years of peace between votes.

His idea was emphatically ridiculed by the Prime Minister’s Office and Quebec’s federalist politicians Thursday.

But is it such a dumb idea? Really, what Fortier was calling for was to have designated periods, spaced far apart, for the national unity question to be discussed, and for everyone to shut up about the sovereignty debate the rest of the time.

There’s just one problem with that theory: We don’t need any more referendums in order to shut up about sovereignty. We just need to stop talking about it. Which, need I point out, we pretty much already have been… until Fortier opened his big mouth.

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I wonder how Harper didn’t see this coming…

11.28.2006

The Quebec nation debate is predictably irking some other nationa – specifically, the First Nations: Canada’s indigenous peoples are feeling a bit snubbed by Parliament’s decision to recognize Quebecers as a “nation” within a united Canada and not them too. Native Indian leaders say the vote in the House of Commons, which has helped reignite […]

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Red and White

07.04.2006

If Saturday evening’s Canada Day festivities at the Old Port are any indication, then federalism in Quebec is in serious trouble. Sure, it was raining, the Jazz Fest offered better music just a short walk away, and most people in Montreal were busier with moving vans than with parades. But the organizers of the Canada […]

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The S-words

12.15.2005

For those unfamiliar with Quebec politics, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about with those s-words, “sovereigntist” and “separatist”. Or why the use of one or the other can get people all up in arms. Here’s Pauline’s take on the issue: Sovereignty, after all, is a noble cause in our age especially […]

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Let’s try this again

11.01.2005

Let’s see if we can get a Quebec federalism thread going without mentioning Israel, the Palestinians, Zionism, or mideast politics in any way.

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Calling all Federalists!

10.31.2005

“It’s ten years later and still I haven’t a clue” – Collective Soul. It’s ten years after the last referendum. The PQ, energized by several years in opposition, is electing new leadership and is gearing up for a post-election victory referendum. We could be less than two years away from the next battle to save […]

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Giving up the game

05.25.2005

David Janes agrees with Jay Currie, who thinks Quebec ought to just separate already and get it over with… and he’s wishing us a good riddance: For a long time I have thought it would be best for Quebec to just go. Have a referendum on a clear question without the feds violating Quebec election […]

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Federalist campaign brainstorming

04.29.2005

So it looks like there’s going to be another referendum in a few years. And with the federalist forces in complete disarray, the result could be disastrous. Even if most Quebeckers don’t really want to separate, they may be persuaded to vote yes if the yes side runs a much better campaign. We all know […]

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More reflections on the sponsorship scandal

04.21.2005

There is widespread disgust with the Liberals on the sponsorship scandal. Of course, everyone has their own spin and view on what’s going on, and much of this is influenced by their political outlook and which party they support. But on the whole, it seems that the disgusted people fall into three broad categories: People […]

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