Harper vs. the PQ: the element of surprise is key

Prime Minister Stephen Harper holds a press conference in Paris, France on Thursday, June 7, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Ten days after Quebecers elected a Parti Québécois government, the government of Stephen Harper began implementing its response today. The key elements:

• fond memories of two-century-old border skirmishes;

• blaming the Quebec government for caring about public health.

Boy, I’m pretty sure Pauline Marois never saw this coming.


At St.-Paul-de-l’Ile-aux-Noix, Quebec, the Prime Minister announced military honours will be bestowed on regiments that have links to those that served in the War of 1812. The PM’s comments:

“Canada’s victory in the War of 1812 was a pivotal point in the development of our great country,” said Prime Minister Harper. “During that war, the French, English and Aboriginal peoples took up arms together to achieve a common objective, to resist the American invasion. The ties our ancestors forged laid the foundations of a truly pan-Canadian identity and made our Confederation possible, a country of great diversity with two national languages.”

Later in the day, Industry Minister Christian Paradis, who’s doing a heck of a job, announced $50 million “to support the diversification of the economy of asbestos-producing communities due to the decision of the Premier-designate of Quebec [that’s Marois – pw] to prohibit chrysotile mining in Quebec.”

(Here’s a handy backgrounder on Quebec’s asbestos industry from Jon Stewart and colleagues.)

“Mrs. Marois’s decision to prohibit chrysotile mining in Quebec will have a negative impact on the future prosperity of the area,” Paradis said, one presumes mournfully. “Right now, there are hundreds of workers in the region who do not have a job and live in uncertainty.”

If you’re like me, you’re hoping there are more quotes from Paradis blaming Marois for wanting to stop exports of a noxious substance that work crews are diligently and belatedly removing from Parliament’s West Block at this moment. And here are those quotes now. “Our region will have to live with the consequences of Mrs. Marois’s decision, but we will continue to work together on the continued economic development of the community,” Paradis said.

The best that can be said about military pageantry and lethal substances as key elements of a federal response to the election of a PQ government in Quebec is that they have never been tried before. Marois and her advisors will have produced contingency plans for every eventuality. Or so they thought.