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Tone, shouting and nationhood: First debate

TORONTO – There’s no need to wait until the “other debates” next week to determine who will win the election campaign. As far as the debate reserved for the all-important Quebecois constituency is concerned all the issues have been resolved. Nothing else needs to be said or heard. 

The Bloc Quebecois succeeded in setting the ground rules; the other parties scrambled over themselves to fall into line. The country – Canada – at its very best can only be an “equal partner” to the “nations” co-habiting under its [shrinking] umbrella. La Nation Quebecoise (population: 5.5 million) is the largest in a territory (Canada) hosting some 700 aboriginal and equal nations. There are no others.

It is an old theme. Consequently, the election platform of any substance must invariably be about (a) increasing the amount of money transferred (!) to another jurisdiction and (b) who should establish goals and conditions for the spending of those sums – no matter the program under which they might be transferred.

To be crass: “gimme and get out of the way”. The Bloc’s Yves-Francois Blanchet was, regrettably, eloquent in his simplicity by asking how bureaucrats in Ottawa can claim to be more effective in identifying and resolving the issues immediate to the Quebecois than their own National government. Economic, social and international policies fall conveniently, and subserviently, within that rhetorical question.

With their responses and their performances, the others bought into the “legitimacy” of that premise. Yet, by definition, a federal campaign encompasses the common interests of Canadians from sea to sea to sea. So much for that theme – “Game over” for substance.

Not surprisingly, the interventions morphed into displays of [feigned] bluster, aggression and exaggerated claims of “pro-Francophonie”. Mr. Trudeau claimed his Party has always done much and more – he is the Prime Minister. Mr. O’Toole affirmed his position to increase transfers and to step aside – he wants to be Prime Minister. Mr. Singh asserted that he has trouble taking Mr. Trudeau seriously and he, Mr. Singh, should be Prime Minister. Mr. Blanchet does not want to be Prime Minister because the real authority resides in Quebec City – home to the Provincial Legislature and seat of the Nationalist jurisdiction.

After trading barbs about the handling of the pandemic, the timing of the election and dutifully expressing emotional compassionate concern for the religious revolt in Afghanistan, they ended their debate. At least the Quebecois now know they have left their mark on the aspirants to power.

The pic of Yves-Francois Blanchet is taken from his Facebook profile

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