Thinking Out Loud talk looks at the post-election landscape
The relationship between the federal government and Quebec’s provincial government changed yet again after the resounding win for the Liberal Party of Canada during last year’s federal election. According to Chantal Hébert, these changes are just the beginning.
Hébert, national affairs writer for the Toronto Star and political columnist, will be speaking about these changes during a talk called “The post-election landscape—can Quebec and Canada really get along?” at Concordia University’s D.B. Clarke Theatre on March 2. The talk, which begins at 7 p.m., is part of the university’s ongoing Thinking Out Loud conversation series.
Over her 40 years working as a journalist, Hébert has noticed a shift in the focus of politics and how that shift has played out in the ongoing relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada.
“When I started covering politics, domestic arrangements within the federation were top-of-mind issues,” she said. “It impacted the Quebec discussion because the feeling was that Quebec’s survival as a French language society in North America could be improved with domestic arrangements,” she added.
“I would argue that 40 years later the issues that are top-of-mind play out on such a global stage [that] the domestic arrangements … have taken second place to climate change, the so-called war on terror, the global economic issues,” Hébert said.
Hébert also plans on discussing the shift in the Quebec-Canada relationship after the Liberal Party of Canada’s victory in October 2015.
“In the past, the provincial liberals in power and the federal liberals in power at the same time has not resulted in great harmony between Quebec and Canada,” she said. “I find it really interesting to see how the arrival of a younger prime minister with a different team on Parliament Hill has brought about new challenges for Philippe Couillard in the sense that it was easy to look good when the government was disliked in Quebec and headed by Stephen Harper. It’s a lot harder to look good or have the lead on so many issues when Justin Trudeau is the Prime Minister.”
One example Hébert gave is how the provincial government would “shine” at climate conferences compared to the conservatives, but now Trudeau has become Canada’s “star” in that area.
Hébert also believes that having liberals in power both in Quebec and at the federal level has put the provincial liberals under more pressure.
“You can craft a scenario where some action from the federal government … would be so egregious to give liberal opponents in Quebec provincially a reason to strike back at the provincial liberals,” she said. “If a similar decision was taken by the Harper government, it wouldn’t reflect on the provincial liberals.”
Hébert hopes for a dialogue during the talk on March 2 with attendees.
“I’m really mostly trying to have an interesting discussion,” she said.
To learn more about this event and others in the Thinking Out Loud conversation series, visit the Concordia University website.