Written by: Michael Kravshik.
A federal government is a government for the entire nation. Sounds simple enough, but for some reason it’s a concept that Canadians have a hard time accepting. Well, that’s not entirely true, I think a lot Canadians accept that fact but for some reason (political correctness perhaps?), or some slew of reasons, we are willing to ignore or overlook it.
It seems like such a no brainer. The Federal Government of Canada represents everyone from Newfoundland to British Columbia, and in an ideal situation of course, does so perfectly equally. The government in power is the government of every citizen of the country, and not the government of the group that voted them in. Of course, the people who vote in a particular government are bound to agree with more of that government’s particular decisions. However, the concept is that the decisions that the government makes are what they believe to be best for Canada as a whole. Getting governments to actually act in a manner that lives up to this ideal can be difficult, especially when partisan politics rears its ugly head, but its hard to disagree with the goal. While people may not agree with their specific policies, the policies of the Conservative, Liberal, NDP, and even Green party are intended for the betterment of all Canada.
This is not so with the Bloc Quebecois. For any non-Canadians out there, the Bloc are a federal political party whose interests are solely that of one, just one, of our thirteen provinces and territories, comprising less than a quarter of our population (down from roughly 43% at Confederation). Unlike the rest of the Canadian federal political parties whose policies are based on political ideology, the Bloc stands alone as a regional interest group pretending to be a national party. Their rejection of the values of a United Canada can be summed up by taking a visit to their official website. Unlike every single other thing in Canada from pop cans to warning labels, the Bloc did not find it necessary to provide a bilingual website. A Canadian living in the farthest reaches of Northwestern Canada has to read “Pomplemousse” on their carbonated Grapefruit beverage before turning the can around to find “Grapefruit.” Yet, a federal political party somehow doesn’t find it necessary to translate their website for the 77.9% of the country whose mother tongue is not French (circa 2006, probably higher now). Interestingly, the increased cost of a bilingual label has even managed to force some companies not to sell their products here due to paper-thin margins. But lets be honest, this isn’t a big problem overall. Yes, I, and my fellow English Canadians, have been forced to turn around lots of labels and search for the one we understand our entire lives, but don’t feel too sorry for us. The important issue is how this basic rejection of Canadian unity can be reconciled with the Bloc’s role as a federal political party.
There’s a simple answer, it can’t. The Bloc came into existence in 1991 after the defeat of the Meech Lake Accord, a political agreement that was meant to give Quebec political entitlements none of the other provinces enjoy. The party was intended to help the push for sovereignty, while in the meantime pushing Quebec’s interests generally. This is the big difference between the Bloc and any other federal party. While I personally may think that NDP policies will hurt Canada, the NDP doesn’t. Whereas, I also personally think that Bloc policies will hurt Canada, and they do as well. In fact, that’s their goal, the break up of Canada. These interests are irreconcilable with leading or even taking part in the Federal Government of Canada.
For non-Canadians, the Prime Minister of Canada is the leader of the party with the most federal Members of Parliament (each member earning a seat in the House of Commons by winning their electoral riding), and the leader of the party who places second becomes our official opposition. The official name of this role is Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to demonstrate that although they are against the sitting government (hence representing Canadians who did not vote for the government), they remain loyal to the Crown, and thus to Canada. I’ll give everyone a quick moment to take in the pure ridiculousness of a separatist party being loyal to the country.
Any party able to obtain the positions of either sitting government (with their leader as our Prime Minister), or official opposition, must have the betterment of the country in mind, right? Wrong. In 1993, the Bloc Quebecois edged out the Reform Party of Canada by two seats in the House of Commons, and became Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. Granted this was mainly due to conservative vote splitting between the Progressive Conservative and Reform parties. None-the-less, for the first time in Canadian history, a party whose goal was the dissolution of the country was given the role of safeguarding it. This prominent role is sometimes even referred to as the “government in waiting”.
The concept of a separatist party being charged with this role is laughable on its own, but it’s important to consider that the leader of the Bloc is actually a potential legitimate candidate for our Prime Minister. Regardless of the almost negligible possibility of it occurring, the concept itself should be enough to outrage any reasonably proud Canadian.
There is no situation ever, in which a separatist party, or any party whose goal is not the improvement of a United Canada, should be considered or allowed as a federal party. Does this squash the rights of the people of Quebec? Absolutely not. Quebec has often had separatism supporters, and they have the political party that can honestly claim to strive for that, the Parti Quebecois. A provincial party striving to obtain sovereignty makes sense since they are still attempting to represent the entire population they are being elected to lead.
I’d like to conclude this piece with an anecdote. During the 2008 Federal Election, there was an English Language debate (oh yes, all of our debates are mandatory in both languages as well), between the leaders of the major parties. Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, was allowed to join the debate to the consternation of many Canadians. The Green Party did not, and has never, constituted a ‘major political party’ and in fact did not even have any seats in the House of Commons at the time. Although I, like many Canadians, thought this just another example of how political correctness can be taken to an extreme, I realized that Ms. May was not the most egregious participant in the debate. Gilles Duceppe, leader of the party trying to break apart our fair country, was given just about as much air time as Stephen Harper, our sitting Prime Minister. Many people protested Ms. May’s attendance during the weeks running up the debate, yet no one doubted Mr. Duceppe’s. I guess the Canadian political psyche has gotten so used to French Canadian abuses that it is suffering from its own twisted form of Stockholm syndrome.
This is my opinion. What’s yours?