Thursday, May 26, 2011

Separatism angels dancing on the point of Jack's needle ...

What a short honeymoon!

Having romped home with 59 of Quebec's 75 seats in the House, Jack Layton has fumbled his first attempt to reconcile the soft nationalist / sovereignist / independence leanings of many of his Quebec MPs in the NDP caucus.

For twenty four hours Layton danced with the angels on the point of the separatist needle, but then he had to come down and clarify the muddle, because the NDP could hear the faint rumblings of an uproar in that province:

But even as he attempted to clarify, Layton continued to insist that his position is consistent with the Supreme Court ruling.

"The Supreme Court decision says you need a clear majority. And our Sherbrooke Declaration put a number to what a clear majority means: 50 per cent plus one. That's been our policy for a long time, and it remains so."

But critics say the NDP can't have it both ways — to be in favour of the Supreme Court decision and also 50-per-cent-plus one. That's because the Supreme Court called for a clear majority, they say, and 50-per-cent-plus-one is not clear.

"The New Democrat MPs from Quebec must be straight with Quebecers: either they respect the 50-per-cent-plus-one result from a referendum or, led by their party leader, they back the legal opinion of the Supreme Court," said Bloc Quebecois MP Andre Bellevance.

Analysts have warned that the NDP would have trouble reconciling its position on Quebec with its approach to the rest of the country — although few predicted the trouble would come within a month of gaining official Opposition status.

Wait for repeated forays on the NPD's separatist policy from dyed in the wool separatists, the independence chattering classes, and disappointed Bloc supporters.

And the wedge to prise apart Layton's policy on separatism lies just there: Does he or does he not support the 1998 Supreme Court of Canada decision in its entirety – Yes or No?

And let's see if Jack decides to go for broke to maintain the support of his new Quebec caucus by trying to cherry pick the SCC decision ...

Welcome to the real world of politics, Jack, where things are tougher than they look from afar.


  1. This sounds just like the sort of thing Layton and the NDP website would have been all over the LIberals for, had they done it. Not that the Liberals would have done this specific thing, because they have learned to take the issue of Quebec separatism very seriously.

  2. Layton tried something similar when he talked about supporting rep. by pop. and keeping Quebec's current weight of seats. These positions are pretty much contradictory.

    Dion had a few interesting comments on why the notion of 50% plus one doesn't work.

    From the article:
    "If (Layton thinks) 50 per cent plus one is a clear majority, what is an unclear majority?" Dion asked in an interview.

    Dion said the debate has been framed as though accepting a bare majority result would be showing respect to Quebecers. But determining something as momentous as the fate of the country on the basis of one vote, is "not respecting Quebecers, not respecting their rights to be Canadians unless they clearly decide to stop being Canadians."

    "You are in the situation to decide the choice of a country (based on) the results of a judicial recount or the examination of rejected ballots. It would be an absurd, untenable position," he added.


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