1984 author, George Orwell, would be astonished to find his nightmarish fantasy come to life – Where government has begun naming bills completely contrary to what they entail. Indeed, Tom Mulcair’s Unity Bill quite clearly outlines an easier path to the dismemberment of our federation.
The bill would repeal the Clarity Act, and states that a mandate to separate must only need a simple majority (50%+1). Moreover, it clearly defines the separation question, “Should Quebec become a sovereign country?”
Nevertheless, one must ask why the New Democrats would propose such a bill when it clearly has no chance of passing the Tory majority in Parliament? If it was intended to be a policy announcement, former NDP leader Jack Layton made the 50%+1 policy fairly clear in the last election. The NDP also have the Sherbrooke Declaration, which clearly states the parameters and mandate of a referendum, as well as how it should be run. It further states, “The NDP would recognize a majority decision (50%+1) of the Quebec people in an event of a referendum on the political status of Quebec.”
So what exactly are Mulcair’s motives in re-opening this issue?
Tom Mulcair is in fact engaging in wedge politics, attempting to shore up the New Democrats support in Quebec before it is threatened.
The threat comes from the embattled, but resurgent, Liberals. The race to claim the helm of the party is currently underway–with both frontrunner candidates, Marc Garneau and Justin Trudeau–polling that the Liberals would chip away at the NDP stronghold in La Belle Province.
Mulcair has reason to worry.
If the Liberal threat was not enough, the renascent Bloc Québécois is also rising in popularity according to the latest polls, and has recently tabled a bill to repeal the detested Clarity Act.
Hence the Unity Bill is Mulcair’s attempt at killing two birds with one stone. On one hand, he is trying to one-up the Bloc by not only repealing the Clarity Act, but by also highlighting the NDP’s widely populist policies with regards to separation. On the other hand, Mulcair is also stressing the failures of the Clarity Act, the Liberal Party’s bible when it comes to the separation issue, reminding Quebeckers why they should detest the Grits.
Unfortunately for Mr. Mulcair the people of Quebec will not be duped by the politics of divisiveness, particularity when he neither wants to implement significant reform with regards to the separation question, nor does he want to truly strengthen the unity of our federation.
This Bill was tabled simply for political gain.
Quebeckers remember when Mulcair attempted to play wedge politics vis-à-vis the oil sands. He claimed that Canada was suffering from Dutch disease, an economic phenomenon where a bolstered natural resource sector raises the value of a nation’s currency causing its manufacturing sector to collapse.
Mulcair hoped to have Canadians who were involved in the manufacturing sector rally together around the New Democrats to oppose Alberta’s wealth and its Conservatives.
The media pounced on the gambit, as did politicians and academics alike, climaxing at the moment the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Marc Carney, dismissed the theory and said, “The strength of Canada’s resource sector is a reflection of success, not a harbinger of failure.”
Quebeckers can see the similarities and need to be aware of Mulcair’s strategy. Such Orwellian deception, in tandem with politics of disunity, has no place in our democracy.
– Toufic Adlouni
(Featured photo: patimbeau Creative Commons, Flickr)