Conservatives Shouldn’t Be Congratulating Themselves on Québec

Conservatives Shouldn’t Be Congratulating Themselves on Québec

Quebec City (Quebec) Tuesday July 29, 2014 – Written on white over a blue background, a quote (presumably from Stephen Harper) attributing to Conservative policies the decline of separatist sentiment in Québec was posted to the Conservative Party of Canada’s Facebook page, and immediately drew the ire of separatist and federalist Québécois alike.  The reason is simple – the quote couldn’t be further from the truth.  In fact, to most Québécois, the notion expressed would be laughably inept if it wasn’t so brashly arrogant.

I’d normally be quick to embrace Hanlon’s Razor, write this off as a simple political blunder on the part of a CPC strategist, and think nothing more of it.  But in this case, I can’t shake the opposite conclusion that this is a deliberate attempt by the Conservatives to misrepresent reality and mislead Canadians on the reality of Québec, all for the sake of pandering to their base.

Anyone even mildly aware of the state of our country’s politics should know that, outside of a few enclaves mostly south of Québec City, Québec wants very little to do with the Conservative Party of Canada.  Out of a possible 75 seats in Québec, the Conservatives currently hold five.  As of the most recent polls, the Conservatives are barely holding at 14% in Québec, ahead of only the Green Party… and a full 4 points behind the separatist Bloc Québécois, despite the latter’s ongoing internal conflicts following from the election of their new leader.  By the Conservative Party’s own admission, their hope for the next election is to increase their number of seats in Québec from a measly five to… ten.  In other words, their “realistic target” for 2015 is to lose 68 of the 78 seats – nearly 90% – up for grabs in Québec.

Clearly then, Conservative strategists are internally aware of their government stewardship’s low approval in Québec.  It comes as no surprise either – from top to bottom, the list of Conservative policies that are in direct conflict with Québec’s social values and interests would go on for pages.  If anything, separatist sentiment in Québec has been falling despite the Conservative government, not because of it.  Québec’s weakening separatist movement is a result of what former PQ leader Jacques Parizeau called its tendency to s’autopeluredebananiser – literally self-banana-peeling – combined with what seems to be a generational gap in interest for a sovereign Québec.  There’s no doubt the Conservatives know this, judging from their low hopes for next election… but it’s far from certain that Canadians outside of Québec are so aware of Québec’s internal political reality.

And that… that’s what bothers me and so many other Québécois about this image of theirs.  Simply put, it’s plainly obvious to most Québécois that the Conservative Party is banking on Canadians’ lack of understanding of Québec’s political situation in order to take credit where they deserve none.  This isn’t just deceptive and dishonest – it directly encourages further divisions between Québec and the rest of Canada in the hopes of riling up support from Canadians ignorant of Québec’s actual political reality.  No wonder Québec federalists like myself are so angry about this message – it directly feeds arguments to Québec separatists, providing yet another example of how little the current Canadian government knows or cares about Québec.  This is politics of division at work.

Dear Canadian friends, remember this in 2015.

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Categories: Opinion, Politics

About Author

Farnell Morisset

Farnell Morisset is passionate about discussing (among other things) the issues of modern social identity for many Québécois who, like him, feel deeply connected to the Québécois nation and culture yet do not identify with the traditional francophone non-practicing Catholic nationalist image. He has an engineering degree from Université Laval and is currently a law student at McGill University.

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