Ottawa not equipped to work with Parti Quebecois: expert
Published Sunday, September 9, 2012 12:53PM EDT
As Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois prepares to be officially sworn in as premier of Quebec, some experts say that Ottawa is ill-equipped to deal with a separatist government in the province.
Political analyst and former Liberal MP in Quebec Jean Lapierre told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that he expects Marois to immediately provoke clashes with the federal government.
“That’s what a sovereignist government is all about,” Lapierre said, suggesting that the federal Conservatives’ scant political presence in the province will not help relations between Ottawa and Quebec City.
“They’re not equipped to react to Quebec because they have very weak Quebec ministers. The prime minister does not have much of a Quebec entourage.
“Every time she asks for something from Ottawa, it’s in bad faith because she wants their failures to show Quebecers that things can’t work with Ottawa,” he said.
The strongest voice for federalism in the province, said Lapierre, is federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair as the party holds 59 out of 75 federal seats in Quebec.
“With Jean Charest gone and no Liberal leader provincially or federally, Mulcair is in a good position,” he said.
With support for sovereignty in the province at approximately 28 per cent according to a recent CROP poll, political advisor and former candidate in the NDP leadership bid Brian Topp said he expects Marois, in the short term, to challenge Ottawa to relinquish some federal powers to the province.
“Where things are going to get interesting is when we get into the details of some of these issues,” said Topp, pointing to Quebec’s desire to control employment insurance in the province as an example.
“Quebec gets a significant subsidy (from Ottawa) for EI,” he said.
Leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party Danielle Smith said she’d like to see her province work with Quebec in decentralizing certain powers from Ottawa.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Smith.
“I think the fact that less than a third of Quebecers favour a separatist motion gives Marois a mandate to talk with Ottawa about a transfer of powers, but not go the full distance that she wishes to.”
She continued, “I’m hoping Alberta and Quebec can work collaboratively with a prime minister who, quite frankly, I think shares a vision of a more decentralized country.”