Singh seeks separatist support.

The NDP’s leader Jagmeet Singh must be desperate. In a province that discriminates against people such as him because of his turban, he is pandering to the péquiste to try to keep a few of the Quebec seats won by the NDP in the 2015 election. The party had fallen from 59 seats in Quebec in 2011 to 16 in 2015 and is concerned that it might have no seats in the province as a result of the 2019 election.

To try to stop the erosion of support, Singh issued an 11-page platform just for Quebec the other day. He promised a further effort to downplay the use of English in the province. This included taking away the rights of federally incorporated companies in Quebec to operate outside the province’s draconian language laws.

The platform included the right for Quebec to reject participation in programs such as Pharmacare and be financially compensated by Ottawa to subsidize its own such program. This is despite the point of Pharmacare being to enable the single customer to make the best deals to lower the cost of pharmaceuticals.

The most ridiculous promise in this program was that the federal NDP would work towards Quebec signing in on the Canadian constitution, under any conditions it wanted. The point of the Canadian federation is that the federal authority has its direct responsibilities and the provinces provide the services to their provinces. This has evolved over the past 150 plus years into an effective co-dependency and it works. It is an arrangement that depends on goodwill and common goals.

The platform showed a lack of diplomacy and long-term thinking on the part of the NDPers who framed it. There is a world of difference between holding out an olive branch and capitulation. It is regretful that Mr. Singh is not as sensitive to the history of Canada’s French-English relations as he might be to his ancestors’ trials in the Punjab state in the Indian subcontinent.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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