How does Prime Minister Paul Martin plan to fight Quebec separatism? Some clues might be found in that big poll released earlier this week by the Centre for Research and Information on Canada (CRIC), which showed that Quebecers have significant attachment to Canada's international stature, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and federal spending on social programs.
The Charter -- well, Martin has already done that circuit with the same-sex marriage decision. Federal spending on social programs? Check that one off with Friday's appearance in Montreal to ink a child-care deal with Quebec.
And next week, in the immediate aftermath of Justice John Gomery's report on the sponsorship scandal, guess who's coming to dinner? None other than the Prime Minister of France, Dominique de Villepin, and a good portion of his cabinet, who will be visiting Canada from Nov. 2 onward. How's that for international stature?
Funny too that Martin didn't want to put off the French Prime Minister's visit, after telling Prince Charles and Camilla that November wasn't exactly a good time to pay a call on the overheated political capital.
But oh -- the CRIC poll also help explains that. When the 3,000 people surveyed were asked about Canada potentially cutting ties with the monarchy, a majority -- 54 per cent -- said it wouldn't change the country at all.