Editorial: The befouled produce aisle of national unity

Balkanization. It’s a strange but important word, like a dysfunctional cousin that keeps showing up on special occasions. The term refers to the fracturing of the Balkan Peninsula, formerly ruled by the Ottoman Empire, into a number of smaller states between 1817 and 1912. These days, Balkanization is a pejorative geopolitical term used for the process of fragmentation of a region or state into smaller regions or states that are uncooperative. Sadly, the disdainful cousin has again arrived in Canada as western separatism, also called ‘Wexit’, which is spreading its rot through the produce section of national unity. I’m not getting into the reasons for fear of taking on the stench, although there is a correlation between western separatism and the election of a Trudeau. This is round two. Round one was allegedly in response to Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s National Energy Program. But round two is nothing new. Threats to national unity, the stinking apples brought on by the west, are historically removed by the produce manager, the House of Commons. Sadly, though, the produce section is befouled by the cabbage of Quebec separatism, which has officially been around since 1968 when a few censorious political groups gelled to form the Parti Québécois. In 1995, Quebec held an independence referendum after the failure of Meech Lake, which almost destroyed the country. In the federal minority government of 2019, Quebec separatists, through the Bloc Québécois, along with a scattering of NDP parliamentarians, hold the balance of power. Once again, eastern Canada and western Canada are at an impasse. Current symbols of the stalemate are the west’s considerable oil and gas production, the need for a new pipeline to supply eastern Canada’s recalcitrant fossil fuel addiction, and Quebec’s new $1-billion Port-Daniel-Gascons cement plant, which according to a Maclean’s report, will produce more carbon dioxide emissions than a tar sands mine. Like all conflict, there needs to be a way out – in this case, before the entire Canadian produce aisle gets picked-over by separatist bargain hunters. There is a potential hero, though, who might just silence the Hell-howls of Canadian Balkanization, the humble Jagmeet Singh, the only Federal leader who is, so far, unblemished by lies and scandal.