Splitting the Dippers
It’s official: Layton backs 50%-plus-one rule for Quebec secession
NDP Leader Jack Layton is once again stating that a straight majority would be enough for Quebec to legally secede from Canada in the event of a third referendum on sovereignty.
“What constitutes a majority is 50 per cent plus one,” Mr. Layton said after announcing his shadow cabinet on Thursday. “That’s been crystal clear for five years as the official policy of our party.”
Despite Layton's statement, the NDP is still somewhat bashful about its repudiation of the Clarity Act. Just watch this interview where Evan Solomon asks MP Peggy Nash about her party's position on the Clarity Act four times, only to have her dodge the question four times.
I just don't see how the NDP will be able to straddle the divide on issues of federalism for four years - the last time someone tried this, it exploded in Brian Mulroney's face, destroying his party and very nearly the country.
The fact of the matter is there are NDP MPs who are unclear how they'd vote in a referendum. The party opposes the Clarity Act. They want to expand Bill 101 to the federal workplace. Layton favours a round of constitutional negotiations to create "winning conditions".
In addition to the above, it seems certain other issues will emerge over the next four years - especially with the PQ poised to take power.
The NDP has taken great joy in dividing the Liberal Party at every opportunity during the minority years. Now, the Liberals have a golden opportunity to return the favour if they can bring what's left of their Quebec caucus onside. It won't be hard to toss federalism grenades into the NDP tent - a few mischievious opposition day motions should do the trick.
By returning to its strong federalist roots, the Liberal Party could in one fell swoop put the squeeze on the Dippers, score points outside Quebec, and become relevant in the West. And if you assume that more than 14% of Quebecers are strong federalists, there'd be little electoral backlash in La Belle Province.
It's abundantly clear the NDP's Beau Risque is going to give them headaches. The Liberals should position themselves so that they're the ones who benefit.