One of the best things that has happened in the 2011 federal election campaign has been the willingness of other political parties to speak honestly and openly about the Bloc Quebecois, and why it is not entitled to even a scrap of power in the federal government.
While Conservative leader Stephen Harper has been the most forceful about the Bloc’s aim being to break up the country, both Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton have also been more honest about the Bloc. Both have said they would not be part of any coalition with the Bloc, which is very different from what happened after the 2008 federal election, when the Liberals and NDP signed a formal coalition agreement, and the Bloc agreed in writing to support it for a fixed period.
If voters in Quebec choose to vote for the Bloc and, in some ridings, elect Bloc MPs, that is their right. We live in a democracy and candidates from all sorts of perspectives run in every riding across the country.
However, MPs who are committed to taking Quebec out of the country and, as recently as last weekend, pledged to do everything within their power to assist the provincial Parti Quebecois in doing so, should not have their hands even close to the levers of power.
By definition, they want Canada to fail. They want to show Quebeckers that a federal system does not work.
The Bloc should be a spent force. It formed after the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and, at the time, had some legitimacy. Meech’s failure and the rejection of the Charlottetown Accord angered many Quebeckers.
But that was more than 20 years ago. The only reason the Bloc still thrives is because of federal subsidies to political parties. It raises minimal funding on its own, and wins many of its seats by virtue of splitting the vote.
Polls show that only about one-third of Quebeckers support separation. The best way to have those numbers fall further is by working on positive initiatives which help all parts of the country, and by other parties pledging to have no truck nor trade with the Bloc.