Par Licia CORBELLA
"Quebec, Quebec, Quebec. Blah, blah, blah. It's always about Quebec. Fifty stinking years of Quebec blackmailing this country with it's limp threat to separate."
That's how an e-mail sent to me yesterday began. It was written by a man who asked to be described as Jacques, "a former Quebecer and long-time proud Albertan."
His letter referred in particular to Quebec Premier Jean Charest's Wednesday election call and how that tidbit of info dominated the news cycle and likely will long after the polls close on March 26. In contrast, other provincial election calls usually garner a brief mention on national newscasts.
True enough. That's the reality in Canada. What Quebec does and what Quebec wants leads the agenda.
That the election call came one day after the feds announced a March 19 budget day leaves many non-Quebecers feeling cynical about the timing and most Albertans fearing Prime Minister Stephen Harper is going to break another election promise and change the equalization formula that determines how much so-called "have not" provinces get from "have" provinces.
Undoubtedly, Charest has been promised by Harper there will be good news for Quebec in the federal budget.
How much good news is the question.
Many non-Albertans believe the wild rose province is "greedy" and doesn't share its wealth. It is an unfair perception based on ignorance.
According to Alberta MLA Ted Morton, since 1961, Alberta has contributed $220 billion net to the rest of Canada and during that same period Quebec raked in $211 billion net in equalization transfers.
What has that bought us? It certainly hasn't purchased unity.
There is really only one way to end the neverendum threat -- by Jean Charest winning the election then promptly holding a referendum to end all referendums.
If Charest wants to be more than just the boy simply stalling the inevitable tide of separatist fervour, or at least the eventual change of government to a separatist one, he should hold a referendum.
Many people will say holding another referendum would be tempting fate.
However, the difference with a referendum held by Charest as opposed to a nationalist government would be the question asked. The wording of the 1995 referendum question was impossible to understand:
"Do you agree that Quebec should become sovereign, after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new Economic and Political Partnership, within the scope of the Bill respecting the future of Quebec and the agreement signed on June 12, 1995."
Polls showed most Quebecers didn't have a clue what that meant. The day before that fright night the vast majority of Quebecers actually believed a Yes vote would not mean Quebecers would lose their Canadian passports or any other Canadian benefit. They were duped.
With a voter turnout of 93%, the No side barely won, with 50.6% of the vote.
But that close call proved nothing. The question should be simple and to the point: Should Quebec separate from Canada? Yes or No?
Let Quebecers know what that entails. No passports, no disaster relief funding, no more federal government contracts and make-work projects, no more equalization, the removal of federal property from Quebec, including many art works and archives, etc.
Such a referendum is the only way Canada can be assured the blackmail will end. The Clarity Act is supposed to ensure a clear question is asked, but the PQ have already declared they will frame any question they want and will assume yes means yes. How would we stop them?
It's not likely Charest will hold a referendum, but for those of us in the ignored regions, it's a nice dream to contemplate since it helps tune out the interminable blah, blah, blah of Quebec, Quebec, Quebec.
Go big, Charest
Win election, then call an immediate referendum on sovereignty
Should Quebec separate from Canada? _ Yes or No?
Par Licia CORBELLA