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Bob Hepburn's column in the Toronto Star, "Mulcair crassly pandering for Quebec votes," repeated the latest Liberal talking points about the New Democratic Party's stance on the threshold needed for discussions on Quebec sovereignty.
Like the Liberals, Hepburn accuses NDP Leader Tom Mulcair of "crass pandering" to Quebec sovereigntists. They both insist that no discussion on the terms for separation could begin without "a clear majority."
Oddly enough they never say what number they have in mind, only that it has to be more than 50 per cent plus one. But by definition that is a clear majority.
Somehow, the mother of all Parliaments had no issue with setting a simple majority as the threshold for Scottish independence. In Canada, we had no problem welcoming Newfoundland into the country after a mere 52.3 per cent of voters voted to join (after the first referendum failed to produce the desired result). Similarly, 50.6 per cent was certainly enough to keep Quebec in Canada when the Liberals almost lost the 1995 referendum vote.
It bears mentioning that the Mulcair speech that the Liberals and Hepburn are citing as evidence of pandering also contained a passionate plea for Quebec to choose Canada.
Making the case for Canada has been the NDP's focus leading up to and since its breakthrough in the province. In fact, the single biggest setback to Quebec sovereignty came on May 2, 2011 when all but four Bloc Québécois MPs (including Gilles Duceppe) lost their seats to New Democrats.
Where I live, local residents may recall that the Liberals first tried this line of attack against the NDP during the 2012 Kitchener-Waterloo byelection. At that time, a backbencher by the name of Justin Trudeau robocalled voters on the eve of the vote to tell them that electing Catherine Fife as their MPP would lead to a breakup of the country.
How'd that argument work out for you, Justin?
Image: Flickr/United Steelworkers
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