Break out the tar and feathers. Nycole Turmel is a separatist.
Well, not exactly a separatist.
But she was a member of separatist parties in Quebec.
Well, she didn’t endorse their separatist roots. She just liked their social policies.
Actually, she only joined to support a couple of friends.
The whole controversy should be a tempest in a teapot. But to hear the cries of foul from partisan politicos and hacks over the past week, you’d think she turned out to be a murderer or pedophile.
Outrageous! Imagine, a Quebec politician having flirted with separatists. It’s unthinkable.
Never mind that almost half the Quebec population actually voted to leave Canada in the last sovereignty referendum.
Rite of passage
Fact is, nationalist fervour is a rite of passage for most Quebecers. As a colleague puts it, separatism is as Quebec as three cigarettes on the jungle gym and a couple of large Labatts at the strip club.
Some hang on to it till the bitter end, while others move on to more pressing issues like health care and jobs.
Turmel held a membership in the somewhat obscure Québec solidaire, a fringe party which echoed many of her socialist views.
She also joined the Bloc Québécois, but insisted she opposed their separatist plank and turned down an offer to run under the Bloc banner.
In recent years, the Bloc has been about as separatist as the NDP is a party of farmers.
It’s like a badge members wear when they’re around the hardcore hangers-on.
Give or go
In Parliament, the Bloc demands more federal health-care funding.
We want more money for infrastructure, they say.
We want our equalization.
We want our subsidies for Bombardier.
Oh, and by the way … we’re separatists.
It’s a joke, and the puffed-up indignance surrounding Turmel is but a farce in light of it.
To take it seriously, you’d anticipate a McCarthy-esque tribunal in the near future to ferret out those who have dared experiment with the separatist scourge.
We could call it the House UnCanadian Activities Committee.
“Are you now, or have you ever been, a separatist?”
“Have you ever painted the fleurs-de-lys on your face?”
“Do you have a life-size poster of Charles de Gaulle in your bedroom?”
“Definitely not, sir.”
“Do you cry when you hear Gilles Vigneault songs?”
“Only once, sir.”
What makes it even funnier is the revelation Tuesday that a federal Conservative MP also had ties to the Bloc Québécois. And not just any MP.
The Globe and Mail reported that Tory Transport Minister Denis Lebel was a member of the Bloc during his time working for various organizations in his home town of Roberval.
Perhaps former Harper speechwriter Michael Taube had wind of this fact when he tried to downplay the so-called Turmel scandal in The Ottawa Citizen last week.
Taube noted that the NDP and Bloc have been interchangeable in the minds of many Quebec voters because of the two parties’ similar social policies.
Separatism rarely enters into the equation.
“Let’s all calm down,” wrote Taube.
“Turmel’s temporary reign of terror will likely be a short footnote in Canadian political history. She can then return to obscurity and be a federalist, separatist, or whatever the heck she wants.”
Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s
commentary editor. He can be contacted at email@example.com.