Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Charest, Boisclair and the Boredom of Overanalyzed Words

As many are no doubt aware, PQ leader Andre Boisclair is jumping all over Jean Charest for comments made on a trip through Europe to the effect that Quebec has "the means" to become an independent country. Separatists are cheering this statement as an admission that the politics of fear from past referendum campaigns can no longer be used. William Johnson, in today's Globe (behind the subscriber wall) is questioning Charest's federalist credentials for failing to also mention the importance of abiding by constitutional law, etc.

But does any of this matter, or is this just a bunch of bored journalists, politicians and columnists during the silly season?

As you might have guessed, I see it as the latter. As QLP spokespeople have pointed out, few in Quebec question whether the province might be economically viable as an independent country. But the big issue remains whether Quebec would be as well off as an independent state as if it were part of Canada, and this will be the issue that would be presented to voters in (yet) another referendum. The message from the federalist camp shifted to this line of argumentation quite a while ago. Moreover, as editorialists like Andre Pratte have pointed out, the issue is not just whether Quebec could do "as well" as if it were part of Canada, but whether it would be "better off" and thus worth risking such a big change. Of course, there are also issues of identity politics and recognition at stake as well, which would be the main arguments of the separatist camp.

So cool your jets. Nothing has changed. There is just not much to report on these days. Crack open a beer or a bottle of rose wine and read Paul Wells' or Calgary Grit's fashion reports from the Calgary Stampede.

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