09/07/2012 12:15 EDT | Updated 11/07/2012 05:12 EST

Will National Unity Be a Part of Harper's Legacy?


The win by the Parti Quebecois in Quebec's election will give many a writer lots to speculate about in the future and most folks will be watching Prime Minister Stephen Harper and how he handles this new "national unity" file that has been dumped into his lap by Quebec voters.

It won't be easy for Harper as he will almost certainly have to carry the can on this file himself. His caucus from Quebec is virtually nonexistent and he lacks a strong minister who can play the role of a Quebec lieutenant. Certainly Minister of industry Christian Paradis has not shown he is up to the task. Who then can? The answer is no one but Harper.

For years the Conservatives relied on failed advice from ADQ supporters in Quebec, look at the number of them appointed to the Senate (including one today), but it has gotten them nowhere in that province. The party infrastructure remains weak and there was always the belief in some quarters that at election time, the minimum could be done in Quebec while a concentrated effort was made to win a majority in the rest of the country. An election strategy that worked last time for them, but which has left them and Harper vulnerable now.

Everyone expects Pauline Marois to start jerking Harper's chain and it is to her advantage to do so. How Harper responds to each of her incoming attacks will have long range repercussions for both Quebec and the country.

The Conservatives like to stress in their press releases that this is the "Harper government" and in this case they are right. Harper is the one who will have to make all the decisions on "his" Quebec file.

Any Prime Minister in his sixth year in office and nine years as party leader has to start looking at his legacy. What will he be leaving Canada with when down the road he decides to leave? Up until this point it was his performance on the economic front that was the strongest item, now how he performs and whether or not he can keep Canada together will also be part of his legacy.