Mulcair feels wrath of national editorialists

Tease the day: The NDP’s proposal on new Quebec referendum rules earns the ire of the morning papers.
Nick Taylor-Vaisey
CP/Fred Chartrand

Thomas Mulcair knows how to piss off editorial boards in central Canada. Today’s papers are proof, in case you needed any. The morning after Mulcair’s party proposed new rules that would govern a prospective referendum on Quebec’s sovereignty, editorialists reacted with vigour, their words bordering on disgust. The NDP’s proposal, a private member’s bill tabled in Toronto MP Craig Scott’s name, suggests that Quebec should be able to secede from Canada by a simple majority vote. The referendum question would have to be clear, the bill offers, and any disagreement about it would be adjudicated by the Quebec Court of Appeal.

The Globe and Mail calls the proposal “a risky move for the NDP, and a bad one for Canada.” The Ottawa Citizen, after dismantling the NDP’s proposal, concluded diplomatically that Mulcair is “lacking prime ministerial qualities.” The Toronto Star, which similarly took down the proposal and dismissed it as pandering to the NDP’s Quebec voter base, was even harsher. “Canadians need to know that a party that aspires to govern the federation is prepared to defend it,” the Star‘s editorialists wrote. “In the NDP’s case, that can’t be taken for granted.” The National Post lashed out, arguing the NDP’s 50%+1 position “represents a stain on this nominally ‘federalist’ party.” The Post‘s editorial goes on to suggest that, even if the federal Liberals lose votes in Quebec because they disagree with both the Bloc Quebecois and NDP on how to hold a referendum, it could pay the fledgling party dividends outside the province.

There’s one prominent speck of cautious agreement with the NDP’s move: The Post‘s John Ivison, drawing on his home country of Scotland’s experience with past referendums, says the 50%+1 formula is the right call—even if the bill is still flawed. One reserved fan among many critics: and yet, Muclair probably couldn’t care less.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the Northwest Territories’ new control over natural resource revenues. The National Post fronts Republican mockery of U.S. President Barack Obama’s apparent lack of shooting prowess (with firearms). The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Ontario premier-designate Kathleen Wynne’s flirtation with road tolls to raise revenue. The Ottawa Citizen leads with Canada’s military ombudsman suggesting cost savings by transferring fewer personnel each year. iPolitics fronts the debut of BlackBerry’s newest wireless leads with the same device’s launch. National Newswatch showcases a CBC News story about Conservative complaints in advance of CNOOC’s takeover of Nexen.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Belize. Canada is becoming increasingly involved in securing the safety of Belize, the Central American nation that borders Mexico and is threatened by nearby drug cartels.2. Defection. Russian ballerina Svetlana Lunkina, who’s lived in Canada for several years with her husband, plans to officially defect after receiving threats in her home country.
3. Flouride. Windsor’s city council voted to stop adding fluoride to its water supply, and will direct savings in coming years to various oral health and nutrition initiatives.4. Charbonneau. Michel Lalonde, the head of an engineering firm in Quebec, admitted during Charbonneau Commission hearings to funnelling money to political parties.