Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is promising more funding and autonomy for Quebec, saying his government would allow the province to play a greater international role in culture and language.
"A Conservative government will offer a complete departure from the approaches of both the federal Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois," Harper said Monday on an election campaign visit to Quebec City.
Harper would allow Quebec to increase its presence on the world stage. He said the province would be able to represent itself at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
He pointed out that Quebec already participates in the Francophonie Summit of French-speaking nations.
"I don't think that's proven to be a difficulty. I think it's had quite the opposite effect. I think it's proven that Quebec can express that side of its nature, that distinctiveness without having any necessary recourse to sovereignty."
Participation in UNESCO and La Francophonie meetings might be irrelevant to the day-to-day lives of Quebecois and Canadians. But they matter very much to their member governments, for they are organizations of equal, sovereign states.
Allowing Quebec to participate in a UN body as an independent member, equal to Canada and to any other member nation, is an admission that Quebec should be treated as a sovereign state, and can act entirely without reference to Canadian interests in advancing its own.
If Quebec is allowed this privilege in matters relating to Francophone culture, why shouldn't other provinces be extended the same privilege in matters uniquely suited to them?
For example, Alberta could have its own seat in the International Energy Agency , while Newfoundland and Nova Scotia could have their own membership in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization , while Ontario could use its dominance in the Canadian financial sector to qualify itself for the International Monetary Fund.
Very quickly, other nations would start bypassing the federal government and dealing directly with the provinces on matters within the proper sphere of sovereign states at international law.
Canada would become a shell government very quickly, and the provinces de facto independent states, if not quite de jure .
Before we can speak as one voice on the world stage, we have to leave our internal sqaubbling at home. No sovereign state, even a decentralized federation, can have its constituent provinces or states running off in all directions.
Only one voice can stand up for Canada, or none will.