Quebec inside the tent....Maybe
Last night's election of a majority Liberal government in Quebec is encouraging, I think. I have to qualify that because some of the most destructive and divisive years in the Canadian federation were when Robert Borassa - who had Jacques Chirac trumped on the arrogance front - was the "Liberal" premier.
The good news is that Charest has served in Ottawa and has more familiarity with the rest of Canada and its concerns than any Premier of Quebec since Levesque. His PC roots put him in touch with the anglo and multicultural worlds beyond Quebec's borders.
For a while, certainly until Chretien's long goodbye is finally done, Charest is unlikely to have too many demands for the Federal government and the rest of Canada. After Chretien it is anyone's guess.
As much as anything Charest's victory is likely generational more than a renunciation of separatism. The PQ and the Bloc are arguing about a world long past. The anglophone dominance of Quebec was ended by the Quiet Revolution and the flight of anglophones from Quebec. But the bitterness remained a potent tool to rally French Quebec. Bitterness can be cured only by time and death. The old guard of respectable soveigntists and rehabilitated radicals which made up the PQ and Bloc has been fighting and losing for forty years. For the next generation of Quebec leaders the game is not bitterness but pride.
Charest has the opportunity to take the resentments of the last generation and transmute them into a spirit of respect, confidence and co-operation within Quebec and in Canada. Let's hope he seizes that opportunity.