Glob­al­ist trend favours Que­bec’s rul­ing Lib­er­als

The Daily Observer - - OPINION - DAN DELMAR — Dan Delmar is man­ag­ing part­ner, pub­lic re­la­tions with Provo­ca­teur Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

It’s no sur­prise most of Que­bec’s largely na­tion­al­ist po­lit­i­cal class kept its dis­tance from France’s de­feated far-right pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. France’s re­jec­tion of her Front na­tional’s ul­tra­na­tion­al­ist plat­form, how­ever, will place some pres­sure on Que­bec po­lit­i­cal par­ties to take sides in a fun­da­men­tal de­bate shak­ing west­ern democ­ra­cies — one Marine Le Pen and na­tion­al­ists are los­ing.

That de­bate cen­tres on glob­al­iza­tion; a lack of pre­pared­ness for it has sparked na­tivist move­ments de­nounc­ing the re­sult­ing job losses and eco­nomic dis­rup­tions.

It’s a fu­tile de­bate for any for­ward­think­ing per­son fa­mil­iar with eco­nomics or his­tory. Trade has been a sta­ple of nearly all hu­man civ­i­liza­tions, and a global econ­omy is its nat­u­ral end re­sult.

Fringe ac­tivists might have been able to better re­sist and tem­po­rar­ily de­lay glob­al­iza­tion in some west­ern so­ci­eties. But at this point, there is no un­do­ing the phe­nom­e­non.

In France, glob­al­iza­tion was a key elec­tion is­sue that pres­i­dent-elect Em­manuel Macron and the ul­tra­na­tion­al­ist Le Pen clashed on through­out the cam­paign.

The French did well to choose Macron. Na­tion­al­ists else­where are al­ready start­ing to re­gret their ill­con­ceived power plays. Some Brexit pro­po­nents in the United Kingdom felt re­morse­ful hours af­ter the vote on leav­ing the Euro­pean Union; U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is coming to terms with re­al­ity, mod­er­at­ing tough stances on NAFTA and other pacts.

While anti-glob­al­iza­tion move­ments may lack so­phis­ti­ca­tion, they are at­tempt­ing to cater to a gen­er­a­tion of mil­len­nial vot­ers across west­ern na­tions who seem to be de­mand­ing more sub­stan­tial ar­gu­ments on is­sues like the de­cline of man­u­fac­tur­ing or ac­ces­si­ble post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion.

Young Que­be­cers are dis­in­ter­ested in sovereignty, a ten­dency that does not bode well for na­tion­al­ism more broadly; a di­verse gen­er­a­tion is de­mand­ing cul­tural and eco­nomic open­ness.

Que­be­cers are very dif­fer­ent than the French, but much of their dis­pro­por­tion­ally na­tion­al­ist po­lit­i­cal class re­fuses to ac­knowl­edge this, of­ten tak­ing cues from across the At­lantic, as with the Parti Québé­cois Char­ter of Val­ues dress code.

It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine the PQ or any sovereignty move­ment not be­ing stuck on the wrong side of this is­sue.

There are lib­eral forces within the PQ’s tent that are favourable to in­ter­na­tional trade and open to the world in gen­eral; leader Jean François Lisée was among them. But it is un­clear if those forces will be able to rein in the me­dia-fu­elled na­tivism that na­tion­al­ism pro­duces.

Far-left Québéc sol­idaire leans sovereignist, mod­er­ately na­tion­al­ist and has ce­mented it­self in op­po­si­tion to glob­al­iza­tion.

The na­tion­al­ist sec­ond op­po­si­tion Coali­tion Avenir Québéc, dou­bling down on eco­nomic and cul­tural na­tion­al­ism lately, im­ported a Le Pen talk­ing point last August with fierce op­po­si­tion to re­li­gious Mus­lim swimwear (the burkini). The CAQ is in muddy wa­ters: Its cul­tural na­tion­al­ism is ev­i­dent, but its air­line-found­ing leader isn’t ex­actly the anti-glob­al­ist’s ideal ad­vo­cate.

This leaves the rul­ing Lib­er­als in the most ad­van­ta­geous po­si­tion. They are led by a fed­er­al­ist premier who is favourable to bilin­gual­ism, mod­er­ate on eco­nomic na­tion­al­ism and ea­ger to at­tract in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment. For­mer leader Jean Charest was in­stru­men­tal in Canada’s sign­ing of a free trade agree­ment with Europe ear­lier this year.

When Que­be­cers are faced with these ques­tions in the fu­ture, ex­pect them to grav­i­tate to­ward glob­al­ism, push­ing na­tion­al­ists and es­pe­cially sovereignists to the fringes.

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