However, the Globe today came out swinging, and I agree:
Even if the Conservatives wish only to string Quebeckers along with vague promises, they risk creating a national melee that would include aboriginals, provinces outside Quebec and various interest groups seeking new powers. It is hubris to think that any government or party can control the terms of this fraught debate. Out of former prime minister Brian Mulroney's failed Meech Lake Accord (1987) and his failed Charlottetown Accord (1992), came the 1995 Quebec referendum in which the sovereigntists fell just a few thousand votes short of a majority. More recently, when Liberal leadership hopeful Michael Ignatieff inflamed nationalist passions not quite two years ago by setting out the elements of future constitutional reform, those emotions inexorably gathered force, a momentum not lost until the House of Commons recognized the "Québécois" as a nation within Canada.Lawrence Martin is a little more pragmatic, observing (alas, subscription needed) that Quebec dominates political thinking far more than it should:
The PM's Quebec preoccupation is driven by politics, of course. Mr. Harper doesn't see many potential gains toward his majority in the West and so concentrates where he sees the most available seats.
The preoccupation is also driven by the media. Quebec still supplies many of the country's key commentators. The obsessive coverage of Liberal missteps in Quebec, a province that is no longer even close to being the party's bread and butter, is the most recent example. Ontario towers over Quebec as an electoral prize. British Columbia is big and fluid. But they rarely rate a mention.
And notes that this might help the other parties:
Although many in the media have wrongly been predicting the demise of the Bloc Québécois for the past decade, there is a larger possibility this time that it can be overtaken. To do so, Mr. Harper must have his party appear as sympathetic to Quebec nationalism as possible.So perhaps there is a hidden silver lining. We shall see.
It's dangerous, though, pollster Nik Nanos was saying yesterday. It opens the door for the other parties to paint the Conservatives as pandering to separatists. One of these days, even Western Canadians, as docile as they've been, might get exercised over that kind of thing.