Friday, February 02, 2007

Le Québec indépendant - Land of a million putsches

Watching the latest effort by a former PQ leader to undermine his successor, ably examined by La Presse's Michel Auger and André Pratte, I can't help but wonder what impression, if any, this makes when Quebec voters contemplate what an independent country led by these people would look like.

It must be nightmarish to think of André Boisclair's triumphant inauguration address, followed a week later by a Bernard Landry-led coup, only to be overthrown the next month by a putsch led by the Quebec armed forces sympathetic to Jacques Parizeau. Two weeks later, revolutionary militants led by Pauline Marois undertake a glorious revolution. All the while, more moderate forces are coalescing around Lucien Bouchard and Mario Dumont, undertaking covert talks with the Canadian government to see about re-entry prospects if they topple the government.

Watching the PQ leadership makes relations between Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien seem downright cordial.

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At 3:29 pm, Blogger TheJF said...

While I don't intend to make a habit of defending sovereigntists, I think you're being a bit unfair. An independent Quebec would hardly be a one party state, and while they would be the ones at the helm during a hypothetical independence process, I think it's a bit much to say that they would be too unstable to do anything. It's not like they haven't been in government before, they have been quite a few times as you know, and the state didn't explode under PQ governments, so I don't see why this would be any different in a post-independence Quebec.

At 3:38 pm, Blogger Matt said...

Fine... spoil my light-hearted Friday fun. I don't actually think this would be the scenario that would play out, but there is certainly a pronounced tendency of past (and often failed) PQ leaders to attack their successors.

You do illustrate a separate point that I've made about the independence movement in the past though. With referendum campaigns promising "Oui, et ca devient possible!" and everything under the sun promised by advocates of independence, I often get the impression that the PQ in particular assumes that it will be able to dictate government policy in a post-referendum Quebec. Wild promises are made to socialists, feminists, gay rights groups, etc., in order to gain support for the "Yes" option, which I'm not convinced would or could be delivered under a multi-party system in an independent Quebec.

Certainly the PQ itself has been through a number of different incarnations on the political spectrum, ranging from the more left-wing phase in the early Levesque years, to a much more conservative post-1980 incarnation, and then back again. I wonder whether the current coalition will fracture if it were forced to govern an independent country, and the ideological differences within the party (and the province) came to the forefront.

At 3:57 pm, Blogger TheJF said...

Oh, I'm sorry, actually, I have to admit that I skimmed through the post rather than reading it and immediately reacted after. Which is something too many people do, in my opinion, and is a source of much misunderstanding, particularly on political blogs, so I have to apologize for that. You do paint a hilarious scenario though, it'd be interesting to see it in a Flash animation or something. :P

But absolutely, I agree, I wonder whether the PQ would exist after a post-independence Quebec, I suppose the PQ brand would be powerful enough to keep it alive as _the_ party that birthed the country, but as you point out, because of its diverse make up, which is mostly centre-left but does contain elements of the right and also just plain left or extreme left, it would likely splinter into a few different parties because they would no longer have the sovereigntist cause to rally around.

On a personal level, it reminds me of two things: 1) one of my reasons for becoming a federalist once more, 2) talks that I had with sovereigntists online and in Quebec City on what the political landscape would look like post-independence. The first was that, one of the reasons I had become a supporter of Quebec sovereignty was that so North America would have a full-fledged social democratic government that wouldn't be ashamed of calling itself that, and that Canada (which I believed, and still do believe, would still exist after Quebec's independence) would take examples from it. But that's when I realized that there's no guarantee that Quebec would be social democratic, because if the pendulum swings one way, there's no reason it can't swing back the other way. So that was one of the many reasons to stop being a sovereigntist... The second is that most of the sovereigntists that I talked to on the subject of a post-independence Quebec political landscape, the general consensus is that most would happily ditch the Parti Quebecois to support a more ideologically partisan party, and the most common answer was that they'd rather support a party like Quebec Solidaire than the Parti Quebecois, it's just that the sovereigntist cause to them was more important. So in other words, get independence first, and we'll worry about the ideologies after when that's done.

That probably explains why the Parti Quebecois likes to regularly tear itself up, not to mention that in the minds of the PQ grassroots, the stakes are very high, so there is no room for mistakes, or perception of mistakes.

At 3:59 pm, Blogger TheJF said...

"full-fledged social democratic government", sorry, a full-fledged social democratic country. We've got social democratic provincial governments before.


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