At the start of his election, Thomas Mulcair thought he had his Quebec base all sewed up. Buttoned down. Solid.
So what happened to the seemingly indestructible NDP “Orange Crush” in Quebec?
Well, Mulcair, his brain trust and most political pundits took their eyes off the always bouncing Quebec political ball.
In the 2011 election, NDP leader Jack Layton and his Quebec lieutenant Thomas Mulcair supported the controversial policy of Quebeckers being able to separate from Canada as long as a referendum on the issue received 50% + one vote.
This policy, taken from the separatist BQ playbook, catapulted the NDP in Quebec to an extraordinary 59 seats, and about 43% of the popular vote.
So at the outset of the 2015 election, Mulcair assumed that a similar position; his very family friendly federal childcare proposal (based in large part on the Quebec model); his progressive vow to raise the taxes on big corporations; and his pro environment and anti-oil and gas policies, would all further solidify NDP support in Quebec.
But Mulcair forgot the golden rule of Quebec politics.
Quebecers don’t vote with their pocketbook, like those in the rest of Canada. They vote with the heart. And outside of Montreal, Quebec’s Francophones, Anglophones and Allophones alike — all of them oblivious to the downtown NDP intellectual elites — were questioning once again:
Who is a true Quebecker? What are Quebec’s true values?
After decades of turmoil, the consensus among those three above-named groups was that Quebec was first and foremost a French-speaking province.
If any Quebecker wanted to work in or receive public services, that person must deal in French. It is not a matter of personal choice.
That’s a fact, Jacques!
Secondly, after centuries, Quebec, finally liberated itself from the shackles of Catholicism in the 1960s and emerged as a secular state. The Catholic Church — or any church, temple or mosque — was no longer welcome in the legislature, the boardrooms, the factories or the bedrooms of the province.
Thirdly, the provincial Liberal government, headed by Premier Couillard, introduced a bill this summer that stipulated that public employees must “exercise their function with their face uncovered,” and persons receiving those services must do likewise.
This bill has the overwhelmingly support of all the major parties and the electorate.
The niqab and the burqa were effectively banned. Because another value essential to the Quebec identity was the equality of men and women.
Most Quebeckers believe these Muslim garments are not a religious expression or a personal choice, but that they reflect the values of a foreign culture that is contrary to essential Quebec values and to Quebec’s identity.
And in Quebec, it is always about Quebec’s identity.
Ironically, Prime Minister Harper, an Anglophone born in Ontario and educated in Alberta, instinctively understood what the niqab and burqa represent to the Quebec people.
Mulcair and his lefty downtown Montreal elites, however, thought what was good enough for them was good enough for the rest of Quebec.
So when Harper seized the moment, and proposed to enact federal legislation banning the niqab for those working in the federal public service and for those dealing with the public service in person, a surge ofConservative support destroyed vulnerable NDP strongholds in its wake.
I predict the haughty and arrogant Mulcair and his minions will go down to horrible defeat in Quebec onOctober 19.
Because paradoxically, the Bible said it best in the Book of Proverbs: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
(Not bad for a third generation Anglophone Quebec Jew, eh?)