In the months and years following the collapse of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords in the final days of the Brian Mulroney administration it seemed very real that our nation could be in peril because of the renaissance of nationalist feelings in Quebec.
It wasn’t long after that Lucien Bouchard and a number of other Conservatives left the party to form the Bloc and set the nation on a perilous course that resulted in the 1995 referendum that came within a hair of setting Quebec on the way to separation.
With the near destruction of the Bloc Quebecois in Monday’s federal vote we can only hope those feelings aren’t renewed anytime soon. But, that doesn’t mean we should begin writing the separatist obituary because as quickly as it collapsed it could return again.
The tempering of the separatist agenda in Canada’s largest province has been ongoing for several years. It goes back to the failed referendum and the eventual defeat of the Parti Quebecois provincially.
It showed itself again as the PQ talked about putting separation on the back burner earlier this year and was very evident on election day when Quebecers voted en masse to support the NDP and a number of young candidates who are barely old enough to remember the last referendum.
There is plenty of reason to celebrate the Bloc’s disappearance from the federal scene, but that doesn’t mean we should grow complacent to think that party or another group could sometime rekindle the flames of Quebec nationalism.
NDP and Opposition Leader Jack Layton has a huge responsibility and a big challenge. The voters of Quebec have put their federalist hopes in him after tossing aside the Bloc, the Conservatives and the Liberals. Hopefully he will not become the flavour of the month among a fickle electorate and some constitutional peace can finally be brough to a country that has been walking on eggshells around the Quebec issue for far too many years thanks to the Bloc and its agenda.