Pardon my French, again

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

They say those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it, so Canada's government would be well served to thumb back through the history books by 10 years or so.

This week, Canada passed the 10-year anniversary of the second Quebec referendum. Remember that night we almost lost Canada to the separatists?

That event is like a bad dream for many Canadians - the next morning we all woke up relieved that it wasn't real. But things are once again brewing in Quebec, which may doom our country to a repeat performance if our leaders don't wake up soon.

The separatist movement is on the rise in Quebec, and has the majority of popular support right now. And remember that bumbling goof in the cheese factory hat, Gilles Duceppe? He recently earned a 97 per cent approval rating among Quebec voters.

At the same time, excitement is brewing in the Parti Qubcois, which is heading into a leadership race. Once a new figurehead is chosen, look for the Yes campaign to begin. And don't think they'll pass up a chance for another referendum. They recently amended their party's constitution to guarantee a vote every time they find their way into office.

We're safe for the time being, but Jean Charest, once hailed as Captain Canada, is in a freefall. He has until 2008 to call a general election, but then the hearts of Quebecers are up for grabs, and they're expected to flock to the PQ in droves. So hold onto your toques, Canada. It's just a matter of time. Only next time, La Belle Province will have a reason to go.

A decade ago, Canada was still bruised and battered by two Herculean efforts to bring Quebec into the nation's constitution. As exhausting and divisive as Charlottetown and Meech Lake were, at least the government had made an effort. What have we done since then? Nothing. Sure, there've been a few hundred million dollars injected into Quebec to advertise Canada. At least injected into the pockets of ad firm executives. The sponsorship program, designed to cool the anger, has only fanned the flames of separation.

What Canada needs now, before the PQ are back in power, before the Yes side has a chance to build a stronger base, is a new round of constitutional talks (pardon my French.)

Now, before you all writhe in agony at the very thought of it, consider this: this country isn't what it used to be. Maybe our constitution should reflect that.

Each province is a "distinct society" (again, pardon my French) with a different set of values, from Alberta's drive for two-tier healthcare to Quebec's language laws. Instead of fighting for a homogenized list of standards and services, perhaps the federal government should recognize the diversity that exists and embrace it. Heck, maybe Alberta is on to something, and Quebec most certainly is. I pay four times what a Quebecer pays for childcare, and that's considered inexpensive by Ontario standards. Maybe, with some freedom to explore different ways of delivering services, we can learn from each other.

Decentralized power isn't a matter of Quebec getting more. It's a matter of 10 unique provinces having the freedom to nurture their own unique cultures. The big question is, who has the guts to open the Pandora's Box that is our constitution? Paul Martin won't touch it - it's not popular enough. And he's likely going to be our next Prime Minister, thanks to the Conservatives, who threw away their golden opportunity last spring to turf Stephen Harper.

The sad fact is, we just don't have a leader today with the intestinal fortitude to take on the separatists, either through constitutional negotiations or another referendum battle. So we continue to sleepwalk towards the third, and perhaps the fatal, Quebec referendum.

For the sake of Canada, here's hoping that someone, anyone, in parliament wakes up, before it's too late.

Pardon my French, again

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

They say those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it, so Canada's government would be well served to thumb back through the history books by 10 years or so.

This week, Canada passed the 10-year anniversary of the second Quebec referendum. Remember that night we almost lost Canada to the separatists?

That event is like a bad dream for many Canadians - the next morning we all woke up relieved that it wasn't real. But things are once again brewing in Quebec, which may doom our country to a repeat performance if our leaders don't wake up soon.

The separatist movement is on the rise in Quebec, and has the majority of popular support right now. And remember that bumbling goof in the cheese factory hat, Gilles Duceppe? He recently earned a 97 per cent approval rating among Quebec voters.

At the same time, excitement is brewing in the Parti Qubcois, which is heading into a leadership race. Once a new figurehead is chosen, look for the Yes campaign to begin. And don't think they'll pass up a chance for another referendum. They recently amended their party's constitution to guarantee a vote every time they find their way into office.

We're safe for the time being, but Jean Charest, once hailed as Captain Canada, is in a freefall. He has until 2008 to call a general election, but then the hearts of Quebecers are up for grabs, and they're expected to flock to the PQ in droves. So hold onto your toques, Canada. It's just a matter of time. Only next time, La Belle Province will have a reason to go.

A decade ago, Canada was still bruised and battered by two Herculean efforts to bring Quebec into the nation's constitution. As exhausting and divisive as Charlottetown and Meech Lake were, at least the government had made an effort. What have we done since then? Nothing. Sure, there've been a few hundred million dollars injected into Quebec to advertise Canada. At least injected into the pockets of ad firm executives. The sponsorship program, designed to cool the anger, has only fanned the flames of separation.

What Canada needs now, before the PQ are back in power, before the Yes side has a chance to build a stronger base, is a new round of constitutional talks (pardon my French.)

Now, before you all writhe in agony at the very thought of it, consider this: this country isn't what it used to be. Maybe our constitution should reflect that.

Each province is a "distinct society" (again, pardon my French) with a different set of values, from Alberta's drive for two-tier healthcare to Quebec's language laws. Instead of fighting for a homogenized list of standards and services, perhaps the federal government should recognize the diversity that exists and embrace it. Heck, maybe Alberta is on to something, and Quebec most certainly is. I pay four times what a Quebecer pays for childcare, and that's considered inexpensive by Ontario standards. Maybe, with some freedom to explore different ways of delivering services, we can learn from each other.

Decentralized power isn't a matter of Quebec getting more. It's a matter of 10 unique provinces having the freedom to nurture their own unique cultures. The big question is, who has the guts to open the Pandora's Box that is our constitution? Paul Martin won't touch it - it's not popular enough. And he's likely going to be our next Prime Minister, thanks to the Conservatives, who threw away their golden opportunity last spring to turf Stephen Harper.

The sad fact is, we just don't have a leader today with the intestinal fortitude to take on the separatists, either through constitutional negotiations or another referendum battle. So we continue to sleepwalk towards the third, and perhaps the fatal, Quebec referendum.

For the sake of Canada, here's hoping that someone, anyone, in parliament wakes up, before it's too late.

Pardon my French, again

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

They say those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it, so Canada's government would be well served to thumb back through the history books by 10 years or so.

This week, Canada passed the 10-year anniversary of the second Quebec referendum. Remember that night we almost lost Canada to the separatists?

That event is like a bad dream for many Canadians - the next morning we all woke up relieved that it wasn't real. But things are once again brewing in Quebec, which may doom our country to a repeat performance if our leaders don't wake up soon.

The separatist movement is on the rise in Quebec, and has the majority of popular support right now. And remember that bumbling goof in the cheese factory hat, Gilles Duceppe? He recently earned a 97 per cent approval rating among Quebec voters.

At the same time, excitement is brewing in the Parti Qubcois, which is heading into a leadership race. Once a new figurehead is chosen, look for the Yes campaign to begin. And don't think they'll pass up a chance for another referendum. They recently amended their party's constitution to guarantee a vote every time they find their way into office.

We're safe for the time being, but Jean Charest, once hailed as Captain Canada, is in a freefall. He has until 2008 to call a general election, but then the hearts of Quebecers are up for grabs, and they're expected to flock to the PQ in droves. So hold onto your toques, Canada. It's just a matter of time. Only next time, La Belle Province will have a reason to go.

A decade ago, Canada was still bruised and battered by two Herculean efforts to bring Quebec into the nation's constitution. As exhausting and divisive as Charlottetown and Meech Lake were, at least the government had made an effort. What have we done since then? Nothing. Sure, there've been a few hundred million dollars injected into Quebec to advertise Canada. At least injected into the pockets of ad firm executives. The sponsorship program, designed to cool the anger, has only fanned the flames of separation.

What Canada needs now, before the PQ are back in power, before the Yes side has a chance to build a stronger base, is a new round of constitutional talks (pardon my French.)

Now, before you all writhe in agony at the very thought of it, consider this: this country isn't what it used to be. Maybe our constitution should reflect that.

Each province is a "distinct society" (again, pardon my French) with a different set of values, from Alberta's drive for two-tier healthcare to Quebec's language laws. Instead of fighting for a homogenized list of standards and services, perhaps the federal government should recognize the diversity that exists and embrace it. Heck, maybe Alberta is on to something, and Quebec most certainly is. I pay four times what a Quebecer pays for childcare, and that's considered inexpensive by Ontario standards. Maybe, with some freedom to explore different ways of delivering services, we can learn from each other.

Decentralized power isn't a matter of Quebec getting more. It's a matter of 10 unique provinces having the freedom to nurture their own unique cultures. The big question is, who has the guts to open the Pandora's Box that is our constitution? Paul Martin won't touch it - it's not popular enough. And he's likely going to be our next Prime Minister, thanks to the Conservatives, who threw away their golden opportunity last spring to turf Stephen Harper.

The sad fact is, we just don't have a leader today with the intestinal fortitude to take on the separatists, either through constitutional negotiations or another referendum battle. So we continue to sleepwalk towards the third, and perhaps the fatal, Quebec referendum.

For the sake of Canada, here's hoping that someone, anyone, in parliament wakes up, before it's too late.