The non-problem of Quebec
(Updated: see below)
In light of UNESCO's decision to recognize Palestine, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has hinted that Canada may fail to recognize UNESCO -- recognition being a kind of big deal in the labyrinthine world of foreign diplomacy.
I can see a wee problem with Canada going down that path, if one cares about Quebec, which may be so-five-or-50-or-150-years-ago.
Five years ago, when Harper's government was somewhat more keen on cultivating Quebec's affections, it saw UNESCO as a fine place for Quebec's separate-ness to be recognized.
But now, Canada may be put in the awkward position of saying that UNESCO's standards for recognition are a little low.
Will that be a problem for this government? I suspect not. In fact, as far as I can see, this whole situation post May 2, with the NDP holding the most seats in Quebec, but in a majority government, has actually freed Harper's government to not worry all that much about the province. (Exception being the three seats tossed that way in the House of Commons reshuffle bill.)
Consider what the government has been able to do, without worrying about backlash from a non-existent Quebec caucus, an extinct Bloc Quebecois, a Liberal party reduced to scorched earth and a rookie NDP opposition just finding its way.
* Dismantling the gun registry, which was of some importance to Quebec, and destroying the records, which Quebec would like to to have for its own gun registry.
Update: In fact, the whole omnibus crime bill seems to have landed on the wrong side of Quebec, as the provincial justice minister, Jean-Marc Fournier, made eminently clear today in testimony before a Commons committee.
* Putting the "royal" back into the name of the military and reasserting the Queen's prominence in Canadian government institutions.
* Barrelling ahead with a Senate-reform bill that Quebec has explicitly said it will oppose in the Supreme Court.
One could be led to assume that this new version of Harper's government isn't all that worried about Quebec backlash. In fact, you could trace it back to the decision, in 2008, to recognize the public-opinion bounce one could achieve in Canada by calling Quebec's duly elected MPs separatists and traitors. If that didn't hurt the federal Conservatives then, why would they be worried about now about angering Quebec? It seems to me that Harper is in an ideal position; not worried about Quebec at all. Which makes sense, power-wise, I guess, but not necessarily if you think that the job of the federal government has anything to do with recognizing those old solitudes.