To say that it’s been nice knowing Bernard Landry would be saying a lie.
I can think of very few Canadian (Quebec) politicians and political leaders who have been as utterly classless as was (is) Bernard Landry. And that’s saying a lot.
For the benefit of my American readers: Bernard Landry is the Quebec Premier (equivalent to a State Governor) who just quit the leadership of the Separatist Parti Québécois because his personal approval rating with the Party rank and file (76.2%) wasn’t high enough.
The Separatist Parti Québécois like their leaders to have approval ratings above 80%. Hence; they usually wind up eating their own.
In the case of Bernard Landry though, I’m not convinced that it wasn’t as much that the PQ tore him up, as it was that at his age (68), he will be over 70 years old before the governing Quebec Liberal Party has to call the next Provincial election.
And older than that before Quebec’s next big push to separate from Canada.
At 70 years old with a charisma deficit – is he the Separatist Leader who can win the next election AND carry Quebec out of Canadian Confederation?
The answer is I don’t think so. And I don’t think he thinks so either.
I do think however, that winning the next provincial election by a landslide, and taking Quebec out of Canada is a very possible and plausible achievement for a younger Separatist politician who has proven himself under fire.
His name is Gilles Duceppe.
Duceppe was a leader from early-on in his life as the President of the University of Montreal Student Union.
He flirted with the Communist Workers Party (Marxist/Leninist) which he later claims to have regretted.
And he was a key Union Negotiator with the very aggressive CNTU until Lucien Bouchard recruited him to run as a Separatist to win a seat for the Bloc Québécois in Canada’s Parliament.
Duceppe was the Bloc Québécois’ (Separatist Party) first elected Member to Canada’s Parliament. And the third leader of the Bloc Québécois.
When first elected leader of the Bloc Québécois, the expectations for Gilles Duceppe to be a successful leader were somewhere between forget-about-it, and a snow ball’s chance in hell. But he proved everyone wrong.
Duceppe has become one of Ottawa’s premiere politicians who has managed to make himself appear to be the only leader in Canada who can be trusted, certainly by his Quebec constituents.
If a federal election were to be held today, it is very possible (likely) that Duceppe would lead his Bloc Québécois Party to as many as 65 out of 75 seats in Quebec (the only province where they field candidates).
And the seats he will not win, will be ridings where the population mass is comprised mainly of “Anglos” and “Ethnics”.
The second problem for federalists is the popularity of the Quebec Liberal Party which pretends to be federalists as long as staying within Canada is profitable.
The Quebec provincial Liberals stand for nothing, led by a leader (Jean Charest) who has got to be the biggest do-nothing in Canadian political history.
Jean Charest is a man who was crowned leader of the provincial Liberal Party (1998) based upon his PERCEIVED potential. He was the proverbial Great White Hope in the absence of anyone else to do the job.
Charest was young, good-looking with an attractive wife, a nice family, a leader of a once significant national federal Party (Conservatives), a presumed federalist, and is perfectly bilingual (French/English).
But too bad for the Liberal Party of Quebec. Charest is like a helium balloon. All blown up it looks great. Let the air out, and there’s nothing but a thin rubber veneer.
Jean Charest has the lowest personal approval rating in the history of Canadian politicians with a negative rating of some 76%.
Think of this irony for a moment.
Landry quits the leadership of the Parti Québécois because “only” 76% of the PQ rank and file approves of his leadership, while Charest hangs-on for dear life with at least 76% of “all” Quebecers thinking that he’s a schmuck.
Now that says something.
And here comes the perfect political storm.
Landry quits. Duceppe wins a real leadership fight for the helm of the Parti Québécois.
Charest has 2½ more years to make himself even more unpopular (if that’s at all possible), while Duceppe spends the next 2½ years laying the groundwork for Quebec’s “friendly” exit from Canada.
And in the meantime, Ottawa pretends that it’s business as usually while the federal politicians invent even more ways to shovel money at Quebec.
If to my American readers, this seems somewhat bizarre: Welcome to Canadian politics. I bet next to how we do our country’s political business, your Congress is beginning to look a lot better.