Monday, October 25, 2010

When the Bloc Québécois is a Nuisance for Quebeckers’ Interests: The Top 20 Countdown

The below is a republished version that has been released officially on the Canadian Federal Liberal Party's web site.  Finally got some use out of that old History and Politics degree :)
Voici la version en français.

The Top 20 of the Bloc Quebecois by Philippe Allard

When the Bloc Québécois is a Nuisance for Quebeckers’ Interests: The Top 20 Countdown

Translated from the French version by Hugo Shebbeare

On the 13th of August 1990, the Bloc Québécois became the first political party in Canadian history to be elected to Federal Parliament in Ottawa that was openly dedicated to the separation of the province of Quebec, by means of the election of a certain Gilles Duceppe, on the chance of a partial election within Laurier-Sainte-Marie district.

Ever since this day, the Bloc Québécois has presented itself as a party, as if it was the only party which was capable of representing the interests of Quebec. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. The Bloc does not represent the interests of Quebeckers, and it has proven this on countless occasions since the party’s creation.

If the electors have the right to vote for the Bloc, they also have the right to an impartial and just understanding with respect to its intentional expressed positions and political gestures over the course of the past two decades.

This is why it is convenient to profit from this most historical event, the 20th anniversary of Gille Duceppe’s election, to demonstrate to what extent the Bloc Québécois has interfered with Quebec’s development within Canada by reminding the whole community of certain key moments where the interests of all Quebeckers were not at all the priority of the Bloc. You will also be saying to yourself that ‘I remember’ (the famous phrase ‘Je me souviens’).

Over the next twenty days, from the 25th of July to the 13th of August 2010, I will present my own top 20 countdown of these remarkable moments. For each day, I’ll be adding an event to mark each one of these ‘hits’, or misses rather, that have touched me personally.

Give yourself a present for this 20th Anniversary! No matter what your political affiliation is, let me help you dig deep into your memory, and in your personal archives, to reload these moments that clearly indicate how the Bloc Québécois has missed its target, with respect to interests of Quebec as a whole. Please help us commemorate the key events that may have touched you personally by means of adding comments in the area below.

20th position – The Bloc Rejects the Progressive Majority Government

On the 11th of October 2008, Gilles Duceppe affirmed, in the middle of his election campaign, that Quebeckers would be better served by a minority government, afraid of a conservative majority government. If he really had at heart the interests of Quebeckers, he would have confirmed loudly that a progressive, human, and responsible Federal government should be elected to the majority. Such a declaration was a demonstration that the Bloc’s Chief would always put the interests of his party over those of the interests of all Quebeckers.

Here, in an interview, he justifies his opinion:

19th Position – The Bloc Plays the Identity Card to Obtain Votes

The 15th of October 2007, just before the return to Parliament, the Leader of the Bloc Québécois, states loudly enough to attract media attention, which party intends to play the identity card to counter the conservative vote. Such a confirmation made it crystal clear to which totally irresponsible extent the weight of playing the politics of ethnic division is to this party. In fact, it is a card the Bloc holds dearly, since playing the identity card signifies the division of Quebeckers between those deemed ‘pur laine’, and the ‘others’ (i.e Allo/Anglophone minorities). With respect to the best interests of Quebeckers of all origins, and the mutual respect that comes from such a modern politique, even concerning Quebec’s French-speaking majority, is to be represented by a party that has no interest in dividing its electorate by means of culture, language, or religion.

18th Position – The Bloc Attempts to Block the Diplomatic Efforts of Canada

The 13th of May 2010, Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe asserts that Canada does not merit a seat on the United Nations Security Council under a Conservative government. This outburst goes against the peace and security interests of Quebeckers and their shared concerns with all fellow Canadians to exercise their influence in the World by means of our country’s pioneering diplomatic efforts. Quebeckers, as do all Canadians, need a government that is capable of having its voice heard at the most important international forums, including the 15-member U.N. Security Council. One can criticise the existing government without blocking significant diplomatic efforts that would raise the profile of Canadian influence in the world.

17th position – The Fake Victories of the Bloc Québécois

The 14th of April 2010, the Bloc announces on their web site that an imminent victory awaits, this time in favour of the creative arts and artists. Such misconduct should be denounced because the reason behind this victorious rhetoric has no association with a concrete victory that actually modifies the quality of life for the concerned groups. All the while, the Bloc cries victory in their name with ceaseless announcements, for each little parliamentary procedure that moves forward, and for each vote at the first reading of proposed legislature. Duceppe and his team create the illusion in the hearts and minds of citizens, that although stuck in an eternal opposition party position, they can bring some concrete results to the people, when the truth is nothing of the sort. Most of the Bloc’s supposed victories are nothing more than simple parliamentary procedures of trivial consequence to the lives of constituents. How can it be in the interest of Quebeckers to be kept in a ‘we always win’ bubble?

Had enough of false Victories? The Bloc thinks you need more, here’s yet another example:

16th Position – The Bloc Attacks Multiculturalism

On the 11th of October 2007, the Leader of the Bloc Québécois turns his back to the interests of Quebec’s ethnic minorities by attacking the politics of multiculturalism, by asking that Quebec be exempt from the rest of Canada’s open-armed approach to different cultures establishing themselves in their new homeland. As he suggests Quebecois values exclude the multi-cultural base (i.e. integrate with the ethnic majority or leave), Mr Duceppe ignores the proven positive effects of the multicultural approach to integration of these minority communities. The Bloc leader refused to take into consideration the interests of ethnic communities in Quebec , and francophones who appreciate multicultural diversity. Insisting that this goes against Quebec values to allow immigrants to maintain their respective cultures on Canadian soil, and using the strawman of survival of Quebec’s French speaking culture, is absolutely contrary to the reality and interests of modern Quebec.

15th Position – The Bloc Québécois Drops the Ball on the Homeless

Despite the explicit demands from Quebec’s organisations fighting for those living on the street and having hard times finding affordable housing, the 5th of May 2010, the Bloc Québécois joins the Progressive Conservatives under Prime Minister Harper to vote against legislation (Bill C-304) aiming to ensure all Canadians access to safe, adequate and affordable housing. According to the Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), “We estimate that between 150,000 and 300,000 persons become homeless each year in Canada.” The Bloc opposed this proposed legislation change, simply because it was afraid of a National policy. The Bloc did not only block Quebeckers’ access to the aid of their own government, they blocked all attempts made to put in place such a progressive policy that would benefit all Canadians, under the cynical pretext that it was a pan-Canadian solution; which under the psyche of a Bloquiste, forever designates ‘to the detriment of Quebec’ .

Gilles Duceppe, Aug 11th, -

The Liberal Party of Canada voted for this bill, that the Bloc killed.

See the FRAPRU’s Press Release asking for collaboration with parliament:

14th Position – Shadow Cabinets, Voilà All That The Bloc Québécois Can Offer Us

The 7th of August, 2004, the day after an election where it has carried the majority of seats in Quebec, the head of the Bloc unveils his Shadow Cabinet - or better yet, dubbed by the Devoir, literally a Ghost Cabinet, or cabinet fantôme. The attribution of posts on the whole for his deputies serves perhaps their careers and the acquisition of parliamentary professional experience, but the women and men of Quebec deserve better than to be represented by such appearances in a mock cabinet that, at the end of the day, can merely act as a powerless detractor, moreover having no effect, factually, on the result of the parliamentary decision making process. Duceppe, the Leader of such a ‘Fantom’ Cabinet, cannot seriously pretend to be defending the interests of Quebeckers with this approach. Are they going to ‘haunt’ us for a long time with these scary and immobile cabinets?

13th & 12th Position - Two Missed Opportunities to Serve the Best Interests of Quebec

On the 14th of June, 2005, and the 12th of May 2007, elected MP Gilles Duceppe puts an end to the suspense regarding the future of his career in Federal politics, by remaining at the helm of the Bloc Québécois. By opting to stay in Federal politics, at both possible junctures to return to his beloved Quebec, in an arrangement that will never truly exert power (since basking in weakness seems to be Duceppe’s forte, and reminding everyone that he speaks for a majority of Quebeckers, when he no longer does), the Bloc Leader falls short on the concrete leadership indispensable to pursue the welfare of Quebeckers. In becoming a head of a provincial party, his parliamentary and political experience could have been put to greater the benefit of his province, as is moreover the case for his 120 elected bloquiste MPs over the years. From the chronicles of the prolific Chantal Hébert: [this party] "represents an enormous waste of talent, in the measure where the most of the Bloc’s members will never know another life, than that of an opposition deputy, and will never have the chance to put their imposing baggage to the service of a government.” Is this squandering of talent really in the interest of the Quebec population ?

11th Position – The English Speakers of Quebec, the Anglophones: the Minority the Bloc Refuses to Accept Exists

You only have to look briefly at the Bloc’s site to understand the type of society this party proposes: a society where prejudice against Quebec’s English speaking population continues, and that it is acceptable they be treated as second class citizens. Anglophones, along with their fellow Quebeckers, don’t they have an interest to know the Bloc’s position regarding the Economy, the Environment, and Culture? How can the Bloc pretend to defend the interests of Quebec while affirming, that Anglos are a spoilt, over-funded minority, whereas at the same time, they refuse to address them in English through their tools of communication? What Federal political party writes off an entire part of the population that represents between 1 Million English speakers (+ 2 Million Bilingual persons) within their own province of 7.5M, by not even providing a link to English on their website? When Mr Duceppe speaks in English (and even admits his heritage is part Anglophone, the Rowlands), it is not to speak with his provincial Anglophone neighbours, but to sell the idea of separation to the rest of Canada and abroad, even from his Ottawa office! What possible credibility does the Bloc Québécois have, when it demands that our francophone brethren across Canada be respected, when this party’s own segregation-is-the-only-answer position is nothing other than pure hypocrisy? Their idea of a unilingual Quebec is not what our society represents, thus, a vote for the Bloc means swallowing the ‘Anglos do not matter to me’ pill.

10th Position – 1 in 195, the Bloc’s Legislative Batting Average

On November 7th 2003, Bill C-459, the law initiating Holocaust Memorial Day received Royal Assent. The distinguishing feature of this bill is that it is the only enacted law that has come into force from a Bloc Québécois deputy. Si nce the statistics regarding which Bills have actually made it through the Parliamentary process are available online for ten years now, we can clearly see that Bloc’s deputies have introduced 195 bills. Yet, of this admirable number introduced, only a single (1), the Act to establish Holocaust Memorial Day in Canada, has materialised. The irrelevance of this party is clear; results speak for themselves. At the same time, the two parties that have formed a government during the past ten years have introduced 1500 Bills, of which 268 have received Royal Assent. Just the Liberal Party of Canada alone has transformed into legislation 153 bills, a solid contribution to Canadian society, in response to the genuine needs of constituents across all provinces and territories. It should be noted, that an honourable number of these enactments were instigated by Quebec deputies of the Liberal Party of Canada. Therein lays the immense difference between sitting for the eternal opposition, and being part of an effective government that puts the interests of its populace first.

To access the statistics from LEGISinfo, regarding our 37th -40th  (current 3rd session) parliaments, please consult:

9th Position – The Bloc Searches for Division, Rather than Sharing or Solidarity

In the bulk of the dossiers in which the Bloc intervenes, their deputies incessantly state that Canadians and Quebeckers are a different people, and that their differences are irreconcilable. With what interest in mind can the people of Quebec have such a divisive fabrication of reality rammed down their throat? Do Canadians across all our provinces and territories not have the right to live in a healthy environment, free from such disruptive harassment with multiple attempts at forced segregation? Do low income families not have the right to equal access to low cost housing or co-operatives? Does not each Canadian have the same interest as their compatriots for a healthy food supply? Are researchers from Quebec not concerned with close Pan-Canadian cooperation, to improve their knowledge and scientific advancements together concurrently, instead of the Bloc’s isolationist approach? We all share the interests and goals coming from the fruits of this collaboration, yet the Leadership of the Bloc seems more preoccupied with the deterioration of the result of our desires for a better tomorrow, before they can even mature.

8th Position – The Bloc, Ally of Big Tobacco Instead of Supporting the Tobacco Act

My dearest fellow Quebeckers, when the Bloc insists it is looking after your best interests; please take a moment to question their objectives! In December of 1996, Jean Chrétien’s government, in its first term, decided to attack a major problem affecting the health of Canadians, especially with respect to the younger generation: tobacco use. With the introduction of Bill C-71 (The Tobacco Act), the Minister of Health at the time was looking to reduce the exposure of our youth to Tobacco related advertising, targeting particularly the sponsors of sport and cultural events. For the Bloc, however, this was an unnamable assault against Quebec interests, estimating that forbidding sponsorship and advertising in this way by Big Tobacco would gravely undercut the tourist and cultural industries for the province. Strong from the political support of Bloc deputies and from the opposition they waged against groups lobbying for the promotion of health for all Canadians, Big Tobacco abused its influence by forcing the government to push back the complete enforcement of the new Act over an extraordinary long transition timeframe of five years, even up to the Autumn of 2003. In sum, the economic cataclysm predicted by the Bloc did not happen at all, in fact, it was quite the contrary, and for once Big Tobacco took a hit, instead of Quebeckers. It is important to note that the Bloc was not in a position to comprehend what really was found to be the interests of the people of Quebec, when we understand that Tobacco products take the lives of more persons in the province than do road accidents, suicides, alcoholism, and HIV-AIDS combined.

For more from the Parliamentary debates, please read:

6th & 7th Position - When the Captain of the Bloc Sells Separation to the Rest of Canada

In January 2005 and April 2010, the head of this misguided party takes it upon himself to tour across all four corners of Canada. A majority of Quebeckers want nothing to do with another referendum and less still with the separation of Quebec; however Gilles Duceppe decides to enrobe himself as the salesman of sovereignty in ‘foreign territory.’ Rather than look forward with other Canadians seeking progress, development and solidarity, or to place a stake in projects/solutions to universal problems that would benefit us all, Mr Duceppe prefers to use these ostentatious tours to explain to his compatriots that Canada would be more prosperous without Quebec. However, Canadians living outside of Quebec know clearly how much this man is mistaken, but their acquiescence and indifference vis à vis separatism leaves those preoccupied with Canadian Unity flabbergasted. A leader who has the interests of Quebec at heart would look for opportunities, above all, to promote expertise of his constituents, to learn equally from his fellow Canadians and collaborate with them to advance the entire multi-nation state’s felicity in which we all benefit. This knowledge and competence transfer between those of the province he is thought to be representing and the rest of Canada is sadly inexistent from ‘la mentalité bloquiste’ (Bloc Québécois mentality), and nothing illustrates better this absence than the two previous cross-Canada trips of this deputy from Laurier-Sainte-Marie.

5th Position – The Bloc Capitulates to American Interests by Supporting the Softwood Lumber Agreement Pushed Through by Harper’s Minority Government

By supporting the conservatives under Stephen Harper and his Softwood Lumber Agreement on the 27th of April 2006, the Bloc Québécois deprived the Canadian Forest Industry of $1.2 Billion Dollars of the $5.2BN illegally collected by the U.S. Commerce Department; only $4BN was to be returned in the Agreement. This huge compensation was fully entitled to by the Canadian Forest Industry, yet completely ignored by the Bloc. Despite multiple World Trade Organisation and North American Free Trade Association rulings/panels/appeals that had supported Canada, and most importantly, the Quebec Forest Industry Council’s lack of support for such a deal, the Bloc Québécois, worked against Quebec’s interests all over again. A large part of this justly due $1.2BN settlement rebate was given directly to the Canadian Forest Products Industry’s American competitors instead of investing locally to cash-strapped companies that were established, some for over a century even, in numerous Forestry-dependent rural communities across Canada, indirectly contributing to several Quebec Sawmill closures. Thus, this sum went directly to these competitors, who had already benefited from the anti-competitive 27% tariff unilaterally imposed by the United States Government in 2002. These U.S. companies used this sum to improve their infrastructures and productivity. This aggravated the impending financial crisis of 2008 far more that it should have for an already weakened industry, which BC, ON and QC are the key provincial beneficiaries, and incidentally, Canada’s largest export Industry - still larger than Oil exports, and the largest Forest Products producer in the world. A Party that is responsible and truly susceptible to defend the interests of Quebec’s Forest Industry through sustainable development for their livelihood would have not accepted such an agreement, and would have pressed the government for a fair deal instead of undercutting Canada’s International Forestry strength. By succumbing to the pressure exercised by the Conservative minority government and the attraction of a Lumber Rebate that would engage the Forest Industry for years, the Bloc contributed a reduced amount to solve the structural problems of the industry, all the while instilling fear and destabilisation of the major players in the Canadian Industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs dependant on the Forestry within the provincial economy. These key players within the Quebec economy, weakened already, had already demanded that they not be subject to more concessions of this type in future conflicts – their demands fell on deaf ears in Ottawa, no thanks to the Bloc.

4th Position - The Bloc Québécois Wishes to Make the Feds Disappear from the Quebec Landscape

At every chance and every opportunity, Bloc deputies demand that any sight in Quebec of the Federal government be wiped out, or any Federal involvement in the lives of Quebeckers vanish. A recent example can be found by means of the demands in February 2009, regarding federally owned lands in the region of Quebec City. Presenting the Federal government as if it were a `foreign nation’, the Bloc demands in warrior-like rhetoric that the Plains of Abraham and the lands surrounding it and including the Quebec National Assembly be ceded to the Province. The Plains of Abraham, a Canadian National Historic site, are managed and maintained by National Battlefields Commission since its creation in 1908, with the goal of honouring the memory of soldiers from both sides of the decisive battle in 1759, and preserving the site for future generations. This sad tendency to strive for the disappearance of any Federal presence from the province applies also to Canadian Flags, which the presence, as minimal is it is already in the province of Quebec, would be considered an insult, or worse still, as a declaration of war by the Canadian Federal government according to the Bloc. Having voted against separation, not once, but twice and witnessed their willingness to stay within a United Canada, do Quebeckers not have the right to proudly raise the Canadian Flag? Considering that, the central Maple Leaf design itself originated from Ottawa-based francophone Jacques Saint-Cyr, and that our Canadian National Anthem originated from Quebec, or is this perhaps yet another part of history the sovereigntists have tried to cyclically brainwash the populace to forget, anywhere they wish in Quebec?

3rd Position – Since No Man is a Prophet in his Own Country…

Realising that perhaps (yes, everyone is allowed to dream) Quebeckers have become indifferent to the efforts of this party we know as the Bloc over the past twenty years to promote the succession of Quebec from Canada, the Chief of the Bloc recently decided to orient his ‘movement’, considering the lack of wind in its’ sails locally, to convince the international community of the necessity for a third referendum. On the 9th of June, this very year, he [ab]used his position as the Head of a Federal Party by spamming with Coat of Arms of the House of Commons from his office in Ottawa to deceitfully legitimise the promotion of sovereignty for Quebec to about 1600 international personalities, including Heads of State, Parliamentarians, Journalists, and Trade Union Leaders across the Globe, by explaining to them in a letter which is loaded with separatist revisionist history ink (‘à l'encre souverainiste’). The message this letter forgot to specify, is that a clear majority of Quebeckers have no wish for the succession of Quebec from Canada, and certainly not a third referendum on this question. What interest could Quebeckers have that they be wrongfully represented with this false need for separation, a partisan policy, when addressing the international community? We Quebeckers are a clear and qualified majority that believe our interests are not defended by the Bloc Québécois’ conceited international propaganda.

Please join the Facebook Group to denounce this ridiculous international propaganda:

1st & 2nd Position – A Lost Referendum, A Presence that Drags On Without a Raison D’Être

To finish the top twenty, two dates that leave their mark. On October 30th, 1995 the second referendum regarding the sovereignty of Quebec. The active participation of over fifty Bloc Québécois Members of Parliament on the referendum campaign, then the official opposition in Ottawa, contributed to leading the country being almost torn apart. This would have had grave economic, legal, and social consequences for Quebeckers, according to an overwhelming majority of experts analysing the impacts of multiple referendums. Considering that the Bloc deputies, then constituting more than two thirds of the province’s deputies, were not able to convince a simple 50% majority of its citizens of the value of their sovereigntist option, witnessing the lag that exists, and exists always, between the population of Quebec on the whole and those voted in to represent the only separatist party in Ottawa. Referendum after referendum, poll after poll, with a few rare exceptions, which correspond only to the ephemeral push of nationalistic fever, a majority of Quebeckers insist that they do not want separation from Canada, yet the Bloc persists since its creation to claim the contrary.

Sore losers, on the 31st of October 1995, the day after the referendum, the Bloc deputies deny they have been misguided, refuse to admit defeat by packing their bags to head home. This is quite surprisingly ironic however, to note that one of the engagements of its founder, Lucien Bouchard was that their presence in Ottawa would only be temporary: no question to drag things on, since they were on the verge of victory. However, from this time, the Bloc has neither advanced the succession of Quebec, nor has it make real progress for Quebec within Canada. This is the heart of the drama à propos the Bloc’s presence in Ottawa: its incapacity to exert serious and positive influence on the political choices taken in the name of Quebeckers and Canadians.

Ever since this late October day in 1995, the energy that has been wasted, the potential of these competent human resources squandered by means of these 120 duly elected bloquistes to show value for their sovereigntist option prevents Quebeckers from contributing to the advancement of their country...still waiting ad vitam aeternam for the winning conditions of another referendum, or the slow fading away of the Bloc when Quebeckers have come to the realisation as to what point this inutile party has no genuine concern in working for their best interests.

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