For 13 years we watched as "full-of-hate" members of the West-centric Reform Party (turned Alliance, turned whatever that thing is that took over the federal PCs) evangelized about how much they hated things: minority rights; immigration; women's rights; "special interest groups"; and one thing in particular: Quebec. Suddenly, over the past year - as Harper's crowd struggles to survive at the mercy of a weak minority parliament - we are asked to believe he has changed to a moderate? Just because of a few conspicuous PR moves??? C'mon Canada - we need to wake up!
Harper has certainly made a few "centrist" platitudes - to try to win enough votes for his majority. But, I believe his gambit is a more heinous one. The Harper Reformers were always at one in saying that they felt Canada was better without Quebec. I lived in the West all my life, and got sick of the Reform-a-tory preaching about "letting Quebec go". Living in small town Saskatchewan, the larger cities, and Calgary, I heard - every day - the relentless "hate-speak" by just about everyone you could read as a "reformer-type". They railed against Quebec - even if they had no reason to, or had never been there themselves. They HATE Quebec with a capital H. Harper will use a majority to allow his little "nation" of Quebec to separate. Why? What every Albertan dreams of: more power in Canada (remember: Alberta "wants in" - even though they've been setting the agenda for almost 10yrs now). A Canada without Quebec makes Alberta the number two power-broker, and with all that oil, perhaps number one. Of course most Albertan NeoCons have never paused to think of the serious repercussions of a Canada without Quebec. In the backs of their minds they think that if things go south, they can also "go South" by joining their Yankee friends.
I have neo-Con acquaintances in Alberta who clap with glee when they hear about Quebecers who speak of separating. When I ask them why, the only answers they have are: 1) They feel tired of Albertans "propping up" Quebec, and 2) They figure if Quebec leaves Canada, Conservative Albertans will benefit greatly from that many fewer "left of center" votes - effectively shifting the power base in Canada to Alberta.
Harper's expression of Quebec as a "nation" is not the problem here. What is, is the context in which he did it. It was not simply a move to beat us Liberals to the punch. It was part of a much bigger game. A game he plans to play out to the end with the oblivious participation of his Quebec Liberal friends (Charest, etal). He is, in part, replaying a game that has played out historically, with Conservatives bringing Canada to the brink - before a Liberal PM brings us back. Mulroney roused a lot of Quebecers simply by playing up "the question" via Meech and Charlottetown, and federal Liberals had to work hard to put the pieces back together - almost at the expense of their own party. Harper will attempt what appear to be similar measures (to Mulroney's), but without the same intentions.
We need to challenge and fight the "Reform-a-tories" as they attempt to change the face of Canada as we know it. They will try to change/kill many of Canada's institutions, marginalize the weak and underprivileged, and do what they can to break up this great country - all to appease their Wild West, gun-slinging, power base.