POLITICS

PQ says federal government has a strategy to put Quebec in its place

05/11/2012 08:07 EDT | Updated 07/11/2012 05:12 EDT
QUEBEC - The Parti Quebecois says Prime Minister Stephen Harper is using his majority government to ramp up efforts to marginalize Quebec.

PQ member Bernard Drainville said Friday there's a "deliberate strategy" to "bulldoze" the province on all fronts.

"Plan B, basically was the fear card," Drainville said, adding that flopped with the federal sponsorship scandal, the Gomery inquiry into the scandal and the defeat of the federal Liberals.

"Plan B is dead, long live Plan C, the Conservative plan. And the goal is simple — to bring Quebec into line."

Drainville argued Quebec's political, economic and legal identity is under attack, citing a number of disputes between Ottawa and the province. They included the abolition of the long gun registry, the appointment of unilingual officials including a Supreme Court justice, and the recalculation of federal transfer payments.

He also cited the Tories' stand on the environment, which runs counter to Quebec's.

"It cannot be a coincidence," he said. "It can only come from a deliberate strategy."

Alain Paquet, the junior finance minister, said in the legislature that disagreements between the federal government and the province are no excuse for independence because there are measures, including legal ones, to deal with them.

"Sometimes there are issues on which there is no consensus," said Paquet, who was speaking in the absence of the intergovernmental affairs minister. "In all systems, even in Quebec, sometimes you don't agree with the government and that doesn't mean you have to separate."

Paquet waxed about the successes of federalism and pointed to the harmonization of sales taxes and Quebec's representation at UNESCO.

He dismissed Drainville's painting of the federal-provincial disagreements as "almost the apocalypse" but added he didn't expect to convince the PQ member to embrace federalism.