Cablegate: Canadian Politics: Quebec Liberal Party
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UNCLAS OTTAWA 001098
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV CA
SUBJECT: CANADIAN POLITICS: QUEBEC LIBERAL PARTY
VICTORY--WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
REF: QUEBEC 55
1. By most accounts, the surprise victory of the Quebec
Liberal Party (QLP) in the April 14 elections has sounded
the death knell for the separatist agenda. In the words of
one pundit, QLP leader Jean Charest "is the first unambiguous
federalist to head a Quebec government in decades, a sign of
how much sovereignty (...) has turned into a dormant issue."
At the same time, Bloc Quebecois (the federal party) leader
Gilles Duceppe and others assert that 45 percent of Quebec
remains "sovereigntist" at heart and will keep the hope of a
separate Quebec alive by voting for the Bloc nationally.
2. Both PM Chretien and his likely successor, Paul Martin,
have said they are pleased with the electoral outcome.
Martin graciously attributed this "federalist" victory in
Quebec to the retiring PM's tenacity on federation throughout
his tenure in politics. Other observers of the
federal-provincial dynamic, however, caution that Charest,
for all his "federalist" credentials, is a strong proponent
of decentralization and thus likely to be more or a thorn in
the side of government on health care, housing, and other
issues that depend on federal funding allotments.
Nonetheless, the prospect of not having to deal with the
issue of sovereignty bodes well for Canada's next Prime
Minister, whoever he or she may be. As the constitutional
critic for the Opposition (Canadian Alliance) told the press,
this is the first time in a long while that the threat of a
referendum "will not be hanging over our head."