I'm officially committed to the view that the Bloc Quebecois and Parti Quebecois have jointly been an inadvertently useful force for Canadian federalism-- it has helped to keep the Canadian federation decentralized enough to keep Quebec on the inside, and decentralization to Quebec has been one of the engines for decentralization and stabilization throughout the system.
That doesn't make Gilles Duceppe any less obnoxious.
Duceppe said he is not prepared to sign the Canadian constitution, even if Prime Minister Stephen Harper grants his demand for the recognition of the Québécois as a nation to be enshrined in the constitution.
"There are a lot of other things that have to be part of changes to the constitution, it isn't limited to that," Duceppe replied. "At the end of the line, I think we can never obtain what we want within Canada. That's why we need sovereignty."
However, if there were a pan-Canadian referendum on enshrining the recognition in the constitution, Duceppe said he would be prepared to campaign in favour of it.
Duceppe dismissed suggestions he has gone from being a sovereignist to trying to improve the Canadian constitution.
"Every gain for Quebec is a gain for the future of Quebec, another step toward sovereignty."
If Harper is serious about recognizing the Québécois as a nation, he will put it in the constitution and give it real legal weight, he said.
Recognizing the Québécois as a nation in the constitution could also be instrumental in Quebec getting international recognition should Quebecers one day vote for sovereignty, he said.
"The first country to have recognized us as a nation in its constitution (will be) Canada. We have inaliable rights as a nation to determine our own future and it's not up to another country to impose its rules on us. We will use that."
Heads I win, tails you lose. I can understand why every time he opens his mouth Anglo-Canadians become less sympathetic to Quebec. The fact that the tension ends up being constructive doesn't maqke it any more pleasant. (Of course, when I read Anglo-Canadians in the rest of Canada commenting about Quebec, I can also understand the resentments that Duceppe and is ilk thrive on.)