Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Fear For Federalism - The Third Way

"Autonomism." We may as well get used to it, because apparently, about a third of Quebeckers have chosen to park their votes with a party which essentially represents a Third Way of looking at the national question. We have federalism. We have sovereigntism. And now, we have autonomism. I think Mario Dumont's ADQ surge represents a disillusionment with both the sovereignty movement and the federalist cause.

Federalists are celebrating tonight because the PQ did so poorly - a good reason for any federalist to celebrate - but I am a bit more apprehensive. Dumont claims that he is not a sovereigntist, but an autonomist. He wants more autonomy - political, economic - for Quebec, though is uninterested in separating from Canada.

But in a way, what Dumont wants resembles separation from Canada in many respects. I fear Stephen Harper has emboldened these autonomists by playing their game - giving more money to Quebec, and also the nation resolution. This may have blunted sovereigntism, but what of autonomism, now the greatest numerical adversary of federalism in Quebec? I fear we may have only seen the beginning of a push for greater "independence" for Quebec within Canada (read: given yet more no-strings-attached money from the Rest of Canada) - despite Quebec already receiving more special favours than any other province. And I fear any attempt to resist this push could lead to a revived sovereigntist movement (maybe, just maybe, led by Mario Dumont). I fear for federalism.

Personally, I'm not a fan of any of the parties. In all likelihood, had I a vote, it would have gone to the Parti Vert. But this new paradigm - and that's exactly what this seems to be - makes me very, very wary. Dumont is neither an ally nor an enemy of federalism, which makes him unpredictable, which makes him interesting to watch. But it also makes dealing with him hazardous territory.

If Dumont eventually takes power, he could lead a push for Quebec independence within Canada, and if jilted, this could turn into a push for Quebec independence without Canada. But perhaps the more likely (and thus, more threatening) possibility is if Dumont ever takes power, and he is able to enact a centre-right program, Quebec may become less dependent on the Rest of Canada to prop up its economy. If any leader will be able to get Quebec into a position, institutionally, where it could survive as its own country, Dumont seems to be the man.

I think federalists need to take a long look at the new political climate in Quebec before coming to any conclusions about whether or not tonight was a victory of a rebuke for a united Canada.

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4 Comments:

At 3/27/2007 8:03 AM, Blogger Mohamed Mohamed said...

I can certainly see why you have some concerns me on the other hand not so much. If it is about autonomy the provinces including Quebec all deserve more autonomy. It really depends on how much autonomy is given however I truly believe going down this path can lead to much less provincial bickering and a stronger more united Canada.

 
At 3/27/2007 8:50 AM, Blogger Vicky said...

Either way, this outcome will force Harper to negociate, not only with his buddy Charest, but with the other parties as well, both a spin-off from Duceppe and the Bloc.

 
At 3/27/2007 12:42 PM, Blogger Magus1290 said...

But perhaps the more likely (and thus, more threatening) possibility is if Dumont ever takes power, and he is able to enact a centre-right program, Quebec may become less dependent on the Rest of Canada to prop up its economy.

I'm not quite sure if I you agree or disagree with this particular part of the post, but how can a Quebec that is less dependent on the RoC for survival a good thing?

The RoC whines and whines (see: Danny William) that Quebec is the spoiled brat of Confederation. I don't see how having Québec move towards a more self-reliant stance isn't better for Canada and Québec.

Moving towards treating the provinces in a more equal fashion, respecting their jurisdictions and allowing them to operate as they see fit would most likely see Québec become (hopefully) a contributor to the RoC, and ending the alienation between some of the provinces!

 
At 3/27/2007 4:50 PM, Blogger Ryan Ringer said...

I'm not quite sure if I you agree or disagree with this particular part of the post, but how can a Quebec that is less dependent on the RoC for survival a good thing?

Because it would blunt one of the most effective arguments that the federalists can use in referendums: that Quebec is financially better off with the RoC backing it.

 

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