•   
  •   
  •   

Canada COMMENTARY: Bloc leader’s threat to unleash ‘fires of hell’ over Quebec seat proposal might just backfire

14:25  23 october  2021
14:25  23 october  2021 Source:   globalnews.ca

Bloc call for Brome-Missisquoi recount halted, confirming federal seat for Liberals

  Bloc call for Brome-Missisquoi recount halted, confirming federal seat for Liberals OTTAWA — The Liberals have been confirmed as winners in the Quebec riding of Brome-Missisquoi after the Bloc Quebecois halted a recount of federal election votes. The recount was requested by Marilou Alarie, the Bloc candidate who came a narrow second in the riding. Elections Canada says the recount was stopped following a request from Alarie, who originally asked for the votes to be checked. On election night Alarie was leading by a slim margin, but the Liberal candidate Pascale St-Onge was announced the winner after mail-in ballots were counted the next day.

A proposed rejigging of Canada’s electoral map could see Quebec lose one of its seats in the House of Commons by 2024 while Alberta gains three and Ontario and B.C. each gain one.

Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet speaks to supporters election night Tuesday, September 21, 2021 in Montreal. © Provided by Global News Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet speaks to supporters election night Tuesday, September 21, 2021 in Montreal.

The changes would increase the total number of federal ridings to 342 from 338.

Read more: Quebec to lose 1 electoral seat, Alberta to get 3 more after new riding distribution

There are reasonable arguments for and against implementing the exact changes recommended by Elections Canada. But Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet’s opening salvo in the debate — that the BQ would “unleash the fires of hell” if his province’s seat count is dropped to 77 from 78 — is the wrong way to begin what needs to be a calm, cool conversation about updating the country’s political geography.

'What just happened?' Former Bloc candidate explains how it feels to lose by 12 votes

  'What just happened?' Former Bloc candidate explains how it feels to lose by 12 votes Patrick O’Hara was driving home to Léry, Que. from Parliament Hill earlier this month when got the call telling him that he wouldn’t become a member of Parliament after all. In the end, he came up 12 votes short. "There's a feeling of … what just happened? You're in awe and shock," O'Hara said. Two weeks earlier, the rookie Bloc Québécois candidate in the riding of Châteauguay-Lacolle had every reason to believe a summer federal election had changed his life forever.

How are we supposed to respond to Blanchet’s Trumpian explosion of outrage? Can thoughtful discussion follow a toddler’s tantrum?

Injecting apocalyptic rhetoric into a decision-making process that must be driven by the fundamental democratic principle of representation by population — and basic math — is precisely how to inflame prejudices, fuel interprovincial pettiness and polarize the nation.

Blanchet, of course, knows this. Driving wedges wherever possible between Quebec and the rest of Canada is crucial, by definition, to the political project of any diehard separatist.

Video: Canada election: Blanchet vows to advocate for Quebec as election returns familiar result

So we shouldn’t be too surprised that Blanchet has zeroed in histrionically on the planned removal of a single Quebec seat from the Commons as if it were a sign of the End Times. Although Elections Canada proposed the change for the benign reason that Quebec’s population is not growing at the same pace as the populations in Alberta, Ontario or B.C. — and because Quebec is (relative to those other big provinces) already more fairly represented in the current parliamentary seat count — Blanchet is invoking biblical imagery of the final battle between Good and Evil.

What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 21

  What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 21 Here's CBC Ottawa's latest roundup of key updates during the coronavirus pandemic.Ontario's government says its next reopening steps will be announced on Friday.

Sonia LeBel, Quebec’s minister responsible for relations with the rest of Canada, has employed more moderate language — and advanced a more compelling rationale — in urging special considerations for the province in the latest redistribution of federal ridings.

“We are part of the founding peoples of Canada,” she said this week. “We have three seats guaranteed at the Supreme Court for judges. We have seats guaranteed in the Senate, a weight that is important and represents much more than just a simple calculation of population.”

Read more: MPs will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter House of Commons next month

All of this is why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other political leaders interested in preserving the peace in our mostly peaceable kingdom need to rise above Blanchet’s blatant bullying while finding a sensible solution to the seat-count conundrum — one that delicately balances numerical fairness with other considerations endemic in a land of complexity and compromise.

Bloc Québécois says Quebec's status as a nation means it must not lose a seat

  Bloc Québécois says Quebec's status as a nation means it must not lose a seat OTTAWA — Yves‑François Blanchet says Quebec deserves more seats in Ottawa, not fewer, as proposed by Elections Canada. The Bloc Québécois leader says as Quebec is officially recognized as a nation, it deserves another MP in Parliament. Blanchet says that Elections Canada's proposal to strip Quebec of a seat in a forthcoming shakeup of boundaries will reduce the power of Quebecers. He wants a "nation clause" inserted in the law on representation to make sure Quebec's power in Parliament is protected.

Remember: there’s no purely mathematical justification for granting a federal seat to each of Canada’s three territories — none of which has a population above 50,000 — when the average number of Canadians represented by each MP is more than 110,000. There’s no logical reason, either, for Prince Edward Island — with a mere 0.43 per cent of the national population of about 38 million — to have four seats representing 1.19 per cent of the elected positions in Parliament.

So there may well be legitimate reasons to avoid reducing Quebec’s seat count at this time.

In 2011, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper implemented legislation that increased the number of seats to 338 from 308 to reflect population changes. At the time, the Harper government — with much prodding from Quebec, the BQ and other opposition parties — chose to inflate the overall size of the House of the Commons so that the number of Quebec seats would increase (by three, to 78) instead of remaining static at 75 — as an earlier, hotly rejected, purely mathematical proposal had called for.

What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, Oct. 23

  What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, Oct. 23 Here's CBC Ottawa's latest roundup of key updates during the coronavirus pandemic.Starting Monday, the province will lift capacity limits in the majority of settings where proof of vaccination is required, including restaurants, indoor sports facilities and gyms, casinos, bingo halls and indoor meeting and event spaces.

The government’s thinking at the time was that tweaking the formula for allocating seats in a way that would better recognize Quebec’s special status as a nation within the nation was politically prudent.

Video: Meet the new parliament, same as the old parliament

It also happened to keep the province’s seat total roughly proportional to its percentage of Canada’s population, even as those two numbers remained unfairly out of whack for faster-growing provinces.

The Quebec-friendly adjustment wasn’t immediately embraced by Harper’s own caucus. The additional Quebec seats, according to a Globe and Mail report at the time, “caused consternation among Conservative backbenchers, who were concerned that Canada's French-speaking province was benefiting from a bill meant to address under-representation in the three large and fast-growing anglophone provinces” — Alberta, Ontario and B.C.

Sound familiar?

The Conservative caucus was ultimately convinced by Harper to accept the plan for the sake of national unity. But despite the Quebec-friendly compromise, the pre-Blanchet Bloc Québécois still slammed the 2011 reconfiguration of the House as falling short of true recognition of the province’s “unique status with regard to its political weight.”

What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 25

  What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 25 Here's CBC Ottawa's latest roundup of key updates during the coronavirus pandemic.A worker shortage at the St. Albert Cheese Co-op started shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began, but the situation has worsened and forced the company to cut certain products because it can't keep up with demand.

You can’t please everyone. As then-B.C. premier Christy Clark, who supported the 2011 changes, said at the time: “Perfection in these things is impossible because it's a big and complicated country.”

A decade later, the scenario confronting Elections Canada, the federal government and the provinces is much the same. And maybe a little massaging of the numbers to mollify Quebec is warranted yet again.

Would it be so bad if Quebec kept its 78 seats and we had 343 federal ridings instead of 342? That would represent about 22.7 per cent of the seats in the House for a province with about 22.6 per cent of Canada’s population. (Meanwhile, Ontario’s proposed 122 seats would then account for 35.6 per cent of 343 seats for a province with almost 39 per cent of the country’s population.)

But Blanchet’s bluster about unleashing the “fires of hell” risks torching the good will required for the rest of Canada to grant Quebec some latitude in its allotment of seats in the national legislature. It’s the kind of talk that’s more likely to unleash cynicism and stinginess.

And eventually, if population trends continue in the current direction, maintaining Quebec’s present share of federal seats as its population drifts towards one-fifth of Canada’s total will become untenable from a democratic point of view — Blanchet’s fires of hell notwithstanding.

Randy Boswell is a Carleton University journalism professor and former Postmedia News national writer.

Nelson: Over-heated rhetoric won't ruffle Trudeau's feathers .
Let’s hope Quebec succeeds in unleashing those fires of hell. After all, La Niña’s back and threatening Alberta with a brutally cold winter, so perhaps some of that hellish heat will waft as far as the western Prairies come January. Seriously though, isn’t it fun watching politicians make complete nitwits of themselves, as Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet did the other day in threatening something akin to Armageddon if la belle province loses a single seat in Parliament through planned redistribution? This is not an exaggeration.

usr: 0
This is interesting!