The 2008 federal election English leaders debate was recently televised, giving Canadian voters glimpses of how the heads of the various factions hold up in verbal sparring matches. This year's inclusion of Green Party leader Elizabeth May was a unique twist. The Green Party is the largest party in Canada that does not hold a seat in Parliament, so her inclusion was an important step towards more accurate political representation. Prior to the debate, political analysts predicted that May would simply be a wildcard. Contrary to what was expected, May proved more competent than she was given credit for, with accurate criticisms of the other leaders (especially Stephen Harper) and a broad knowledge of important facts.
With her temperance, May was not the wildcard in this debate. That title fits more accurately with Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe. His commentary throughout the debate served little more than to throw the various topics into disarray. He frequently changed the subject while attacking the other leaders with past accusations. His relentless insistence that health care be given to the provinces to deal with can be seen as the first step in a greater agenda-- the secession of Quebec. It's not particularly strange that a separatist leader would argue for more control to be given to the provinces. More provincial autonomy is one step closer to outright autonomy. Duceppe's blatant attempts to gain votes in Quebec alone raise questions and doubts of the legitimacy of the Bloc as a national party.
Firstly, the Bloc proclaims itself to be a national party, but the only support and the only seats that the party has are in Quebec alone. In most parts of Canada, they do not have candidates or supporters. Secondly, the Bloc lacks purpose because it cannot attain its initial goal. The Bloc was created in 1990 when renegade Liberal and Tory MP's from Quebec became disenchanted with the handling of the Meech Lake Accord. These MPs decided that separation was the only alternative and thus the Bloc was born. The Bloc was created to guide Quebec along the road to sovereignty. The culmination of its existence was almost reached in the referendum of 1995, where all Quebecers were asked if they would prefer to stay in the federation or to separate. It is important to remember that even this referendum was defeated with 50.6 per cent of the population voting "no" to separation. Now, 13 years later, the Bloc has not been able to muster enough support for another referendum. This is likely because the support is no longer there.
In the 1993 federal election the Bloc became the official opposition with the second-most seats in Parliament. This showed the amount of support that the Bloc had at the time, but since then it has dwindled substantially. This raises concerns about the governing of the rest of the nation. How effective is a separatist party going to be in the seat of the Official Opposition? The job of the Opposition is to temper and criticize the governing party and perhaps give voice to the people that did not vote for the party in power. The Bloc is self-involved and concerned with its goal of separation. How will it accurately represent the Canadian people?
Quebec is still a part of the Canadian Confederation and there are many people in Quebec and in the rest of Canada that are content with that situation. Having said that, all Quebecers, separatists or not, deserve a voice in Parliament. The Bloc Quebecois, however, is an ineffective and outdated party whose actions can only serve to damage and weaken Canada as a whole.