The May 2, 2011 Canadian Federal Election And Bilingualism

The May 2, 2011 Federal election in Canada made the New Democrat Party Canada’s federal opposition for the first time and gave Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives their first majority government. Although the Conservative’s desired majority seemed possible, it is difficult to remember anyone confidently predicting the NDP’s rise to official opposition status; only as the election date approached did polling begin to show the NDP closing in on the first party position, a great surprise that never materialized but that did anticipate their extraordinary rise to the position of official opposition with 103 seats, a feat never seriously anticipated before the May 2, 2011 election. The way the NDP achieved its largest number of Federal parliamentary seats was also significant because their 2008 election seat total had been just a 3’rd place 37, but rose to their 2’nd place 103 with the help of 66 seats from Quebec. The Quebec seats were mostly attributed to former Bloc Quebecois supporters leaving their pro separatist party for the nationalist, pro Canadian central government NDP.

Why then would separatist party supporters vote for a Canadian federalist party, and why would that party be the NDP and not the Liberals? Perhaps the explanation is a rather simple one based on the history of the NDP and Liberal relationship with Quebec separatists, at least since the FLQ, and War Measures Act Crisis of 1970. At that time both the Quebec Liberal Premier Robert Bourassa, and Canada’s Federal Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau instituted the War Measures Act out of their fear of a violent insurrection in Quebec. The NDP and their leader Tommy Douglas were the only party in Canada’s House of Commons to vote against the Act. Several years later the socialist Marxist Waffle group within the NDP supported a two nation policy to accommodate Quebec’s separatists who believed that the province of Quebec was really a nation.

And since the late 1960’s Canadian society, despite the “Waffle”, has experienced Canadian capitol being increasingly controlled by U.S. corporations, and investors with prosperity moving West to energy sources important to the United States. These changes arising from the power and desires of extra national entities without regard to nations or language make the future of smaller states uncertain. And perhaps the Quebec majority within the NDP has the power to influence the federal government in ways to further Quebec’s national goals that might have been easy to ignore in the isolation of the separatist Bloc. Certainly the success of the proposed NDP legislation requiring all “officers of Parliament” to speak both English and French might not have seemed as convincing to Prime Minister Harper and the majority federal Conservatives if it had been advanced by the separatist Bloc rather than the federalist NDP official opposition.

…Prime Minister Stephen Harper feels it was a “mistake” to appoint unilingual anglophones to senior positions such as the office of the auditor general and the Supreme Court.

Harper reportedly made his comment after several cabinet ministers told the Tory caucus last week that the government would support legislation introduced by the NDP to require that all officers of Parliament be functionally bilingual…

Read more: The Ottawa Citizen, October 26, 2012