In decades past, the news of a Parti Québécois election win was nothing new. The party’s four triumphs in La Bellé Province did little to quell the concerns shared by English Canada, and at the same time stoked the fervent fires of the separatist movement.
However, for nearly a decade the PQ fire appeared to be somewhat extinguished, smothered by a blanket of Liberal red as Jean Charest led his part to three consecutive terms from 2003 onward, two of which were majority governments.
This all changed this year, as the PQ returned to power – albeit a minority government – in the 2012 election, and could have succeeded in winning a majority over the falling Grits if not for the capture of 19 seats by the rising Coalition Avenir Québec.
While political pundits, including our very own MP Tony Clement, are quick to assert the PQ’s victory had little to do with a resurgence in the separatist movement and more to do with a Liberal party that lost the support of the province, there still should be some concern at what message this victory may send to the undecided in Quebec, and in turn, the rest of Canada.
It only takes a spark to get that same fervent fire going, and although in the past these “sparks” have been large in nature – the charismatic Rene Levesque’s election as party leader, the failure of the Charlottetown Accord and the Meech Lake Accord to name a few – anyone can tell you that if the conditions are right, those little embers can quickly evolved into a full-blown fire.
We are not in any way suggesting that the path to another referendum is before us … but the failure to recognize that a party with a mandate to remove Quebec from Confederation now has a bigger soapbox than it has had in years is a tad parochial, to say the least.
We agree with Clement that many people – Quebecers included – are not in favour of separation. However, that sentiment is there and as long as there are parties like the PQ, the Bloc Quebecois, and to a certain extent the CAQ, that spark is always smoldering.