"The winning of 10 seats in Quebec by the Conservatives is just the beginning of this new alliance between the West and Quebec," Mr. Dumont said in an interview yesterday. "It is an alliance that can help Canada to decentralize and work outside a central government that has become heavily bureaucratic, much too powerful and highly centralized..."
Mr. Dumont said Quebec has a duty to build an alliance with Western Canada and prepare for a new round of constitutional talks that would include changes for the entire country, not just Quebec...
"Mr. Harper wants Quebec to have its place in Canada," Mr. Dumont said. "Every time I discussed constitutional reform with him,
Dumont's comments are relevant because, as he admits, the opinion is based on conversations with the Prime Minister. Clearly, Harper is the Western portion of the alliance, which is quite strange given his title. You have a situation where a region finds commonality with a national entity, which is supposed to speak for the whole. These statements serve as concrete proof that Stephen Harper is a regionalist, who's opinion on federalism starts from the provincial perspective. Harper's overtures to Quebec have little to do with genuine concern for the culture, but moreso a natural fit for a perspective which seeks to essentially trash the federal government.
It is important to note that the Canadian federation as we know it is already decidedly "loose" in composition, when compared to other international examples. Despite the historic complaints of various regional leaders, the provinces do in fact enjoy considerable power- this talk about a domineering national entity is mostly bluster. For Harper to take the position that the federal government has too much control, which translates into a further dissolution of powers, he in fact leaves the federal government as an impotent and ineffective entity.
The concerns of Quebec are genuine and do need to be addressed. However, it is frightening to see legitimate issues used by others to justify their own powerplays. It is the job of Premiers to fight for their province, it is the job of the federal government to speak to cohesion and "national" goals. We now have a situation where there is no voice for Canada, because the federal leadership is also a proponent of regionalism. Who speaks for Canada? The balance that federalism needs is lost, any constitutional talks under these circumstances are disastrous for people who believes in the notion that the whole is greater than its individual parts.