Toronto Star

Bernier puts Quebec nationalism in the hot seat
Toronto Star

Maxime Bernier extended his provocative call to rearrange the Canadian federation by telling Quebecers in no uncertain terms that if they’ve not achieved the level of autonomy that most of them desire, they have only themselves to blame.

His audience didn’t wince at the critique. In fact, they applauded heartily. They were, after all, 450 likeminded individuals who came out on Saturday to the first-ever gathering of a new grassroots right-wing movement in the province, which has been compared to the “Tea Party” in the United States.

More autonomy, Bernier believes, comes from respecting the traditional notion of the Constitution and ending federal involvement in provincial areas of concern. But he said Quebec governments over the past 50 years have undermined this by constantly demanding more from Ottawa, including, he said “particular privileges.”

“Essentially, we are saying to the rest of the country, it’s only us who are special and we should have more powers and influence than all of you,” he said. Bernier and others railed against the way in which Quebec nationalism has been co-opted by the left and, as Bernier calls it, its “statist vision.”

“The constitutional demands of Quebec always come with demands for more money, more transfers, more equalization, again to feed our huge state,” Bernier reasoned. “Quebecers say they want to be more autonomous and even independent, while all that we’ve succeeded in doing up to now is to become more and more financially dependent on the rest of Canada.”