Sunday, 1 January 2012

With 2011 behind us

So with all this talk of Jack Layton being the story of 2011 I though I'd give my $0.02.

My first comment is this: I don't agree. But let me be clear. This is not to discount Mr. Layton. He had an incredible impact on the Canadian body politic. He was, without a doubt, the most successful and popular leader of the NDP ever. He was a great Canadian. Perhaps one of the greatest.

But was he the biggest story of the year? No. Was the biggest story of the year due in large part to his success? Yes.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am referring to the fall of the Bloc and Parti Quebecois. Let me explain why.

As someone who grew up during a period in which Quebec separatism was alive and well this destruction of separatist forces in Ottawa and disarray in Quebec City is a welcome achieve of 2011. Mr. Layton, with M. Mulcair at side, gave Quebeckers something new to get excited about. He gave them a reason to be proud to be Canadian. This is something that Prime Minister Harper or Michael Ignatieff or even Quebeckers Stephane Dion and Paul Martin were unable to do. But Mr. Layton was. Members of all parties should be able to admit this. As known Conservative Tasha Keirdan of the National Post and CTV's National Affairs put it, "better the socialists than the separatists."

The death of Jack Layton wasn't the Canadian political story of 2011. But the success of his party in decimating Quebec's separatist forces was.

In many ways all federalist Canadians do owe a degree of gratitude to Mr. Layton and Mr. Mulcair in leading the party's forces in Quebec to a victory over the Bloc Quebecois. It is unfortunate that there were political casualties to politicians like current candidate for President of the Liberal Party Alexandra Mendes and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon along the way - both extremely capable MPs who had earned re-election.

However, going forward New Democrats should worry. The Quebec caucus of their party is, is large part, inexperienced in the world of politics. Aside of M. Mulcair and Romeo Saganash - both leadership candidates - the NDP really only has the rather ineffective interim leader Nycole Turmel and former party president and current leadership candidate Brian Topp that can truly any degree of experience. What this means for Liberals, and to a lesser degree Conservatives, is that where Mr. Layton blew down the door his untimely passing delivers an opportunity for another federalist party to walk through it. Bob Rae is not taking this opportunity lightly. He will attempt to make Quebec a capital-L Liberal province again in time for the 2015 election. If I were Thomas Mulcair or Brian Topp or Paul Dewar I would be concerned. And if I were Dominic Leblanc or David McGuinty or Scott Brison I would be planning the next year and the leadership election that will begin 2013 accordingly. Quebec will be a battleground come 2015. No federalist party can afford to look elsewhere.

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