There's a lot of talk about how the sponsorship scandal could lead to another Quebec referendum. Warren even says a yes vote is possible and he's not alone in this apocalyptic assessment. I don't buy it. First of all, even if Quebec turns on a federalist party, it doesn't mean they'll turn on federalists. That'd be like saying if Canadians turn on the party bringing in same sex legislation, they're against equal marriage.
The Bloc could not get over 50% in the last election and it's a safe bet that not every Bloc voter is a separatist. The issue last election was on the federal government trying to buy Quebec's loyalty - that's an issue that could play into the separation argument. Now? The issue is of one party's alleged corruption - that's a party issue, not a nationalism issue.
Some people say the scandal will destroy Jean Charest. Well, anyone who has followed Quebec politics over the past two years knows that the most effective person at destroying Jean Charest has been Jean Charest. He was hugely unpopular before the scandal broke and has done many things to make him far more unpopular since then. His disapproval rating is a mind-boggling 71% and that's before a single word was said implicating his party in the scandal. If anything, this scandal might actually help him since the PQ is getting dragged in. It's going to be very hard for the PQ to use this scandal as an issue when they've been caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
Some people say the scandal will propel Gilles Ducceppe to the leadership of the PQ and shortly afterwards as Premier of Quebec. Possibly. But, let's be clear. Gilles Ducceppe is popular and compared to the other three stooges on the national scene, he looks pretty good. But the guy is no Lucien Bouchard.
And that's the point here. No separatist party in the history of the province has ever gotten over 50% in a federal election, provincial election, or a referendum. In 1995, the OUI side had perhaps the greatest politician of his generation leading them, a year after he had almost literally risen from the dead. They had the failure of Meech to run on, they had a largely ineffective NON campaign, and they had a trick question. Despite all this, they still couldn't win. So I don't think a man who is a shadow of Lucien Bouchard will be able to do the job this time.
Let's also remember, we've got the Clarity Act in place. The fact that the OUI side has never gotten 50% on trick questions in the past tells me that them getting a clear majority on a straight-up question is nearly impossible. So before Mr.Travers and co try to pin a phantom minor up-peg in Quebec separatism (since I haven't seen any polling data to support this thesis) on Jean Chretien's shoulders, let's take a breather and remember that JC won two referendums in the past and brought in the bill that will make it nearly impossible for the separatists to steal the country in the future.
Yes, the Bloc will do very well next election. Yes, Jean Charest is likely finished. But the only way this scandal could threaten Canadian federalism is by Prime Minister Stephen Harper doing something incredible stupid. And if Brian Mulroney's time as Prime Minister didn't lead to a separate Quebec, I can't imagine Harper's leading to that.