Far better qualified pundits and commentators than I have spent the last several days analyzing the motives behind a series of offensive attack advertising from Canada's major political players; the ruling Conservatives and the Liberals opposite.
The level to which these most recent ads have descended has offended many Canadians who have watched from a distance how bitter partisanship has split the United States, derailed many legislative initiatives, and deadlocked the American Congress.
The general expectation is that this bitterness amongst Canadian Parliamentarians will peak around the time of the Federal Government's budget expected in the next 6 (or so) weeks. Most likely culminating into our third National election since January of 2006.
If that is the case, (perhaps it explains the unrelenting bitterness of the current advertising campaigns), Federal politicians will have to vie for the attention of an electorate already engaged in enormously significant provincial election activities in British-Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland-and-Labrador, at least. Provinces which represent about two-thirds of Canada's population and its most significant economic entities.
As demonstrated repeatedly over the last 50 years; the Province of Quebec may offer the most significant challenge to the nation's well being. The popularity of Premier Jean Charest's government has collapsed amidst a litany of scandals and alleged wrong-doing. And in Quebec, the eventual demise of the ruling Liberals, means the election of an avowed separatist Parti-Quebecois government. No surprise then that the Federalist branch of the Separatists, Gilles Duceppe's "Bloc Quebecois" have been threatening to defeat the Federal budget unless the Province of Quebec secures a $5-Billion transfer payment from Ottawa, an NHL hockey arena in Quebec City and Lord knows what else by the time the threats, extortion and intimidation end. Mr. Duceppe, who controls his "Bloc" caucus in Ottawa more tightly than the Prime Minister does the Tories, may just possibly have only one other contending challenger for his hostility towards the country.
(Caution: Offensive language)
Being "Canadian" is a growing insignificant way for Quebecois to define themselves. Just seven in one hundred (7%) of francophone Quebecers define themselves as Canadian first according to a survey released in December by Leger Marketing. The survey which was done for the Association for Canadian Studies concludes that more than 60% of Quebec francophone define themselves as Quebecois first or exclusively.
Just slightly more than 30 years after the first Independence Referendum, and 15 year after the last; a significant majority of French speaking residents of Quebec have disengaged from Federal politics; detached from Canada; and have been increasingly distancing themselves from their emotional ties with the rest of the country. It is a cause which should be of enormous concern for the future of national unity and which demands the uppermost attention of our political leaders who instead have been clobbering each other with unrelated and really offensive attack ads.
A former Canadian Army reservist who served at military bases in Thunder Bay and at Gagetown, New Brunswick; "Major" Serge Provost heads the "Milice Patriotique Quebecoise", a shadowy separatist militia headquartered in east end Montreal where it opened its first recruitment centre in November. Though Mr. Provost says even some hardcore Separatists are uncomfortable with his organization, he claims about 200 members and about 1700 "Face Book" friends apparently willing to take combat training, life saving skills and wilderness survival courses.
Just this month, civil unrest has ripped through Tunisia, Egypt and other relatively quiet parts of the world. At the same time and without fanfare, the U.S. Homeland Security Department has abandoned the "Terror Threat Colour Code" (green-blue-yellow-orange and red) instituted and popularized by the Bush Administration in the immediate aftermath of the September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. Perhaps we should ask the Americans if we can borrow the multi-coloured lights: Just in case.