Separation has had me thinking I was unfair about Ultimatum. As you know, in the latter Prime Minister Porter met with leaders of the other parties in the House of Commons. To refresh your memories, he recalled Parliament and scheduled a special debate, which was in turn followed by a vote. You will also remember that in Separation Joseph Roussel does none of these things. Instead, he consults his Cabinet and - for no reason at all - considers himself bound by its decision. Roussel's only hope is that his caucus will rise against the Cabinet. When it comes time to vote - for no reason at all - Quebec members are made to sit on the sidelines. And they take it.
So too does the public, and the opposition, and the press. No one demands that Parliament be reconvened in the face of what is both the greatest constitutional crisis and the greatest national unity crisis in the country's history.
The political stuff is really sloppy. Early on William Purdy tells Roussel: “Prime Minister, you should know that there is a consensus in Cabinet that Canada should be encouraging Quebec to separate, now that things have gone this far.”
'Cause, you know, this whole thing with the Brits and Quebec threatening to separate has been going on for a whole 36 hours. Enough already.
Then, on the very next page, in the very same meeting, Michael Lucas, the guy the Cabinet just chose as Deputy PM: “There should be a meeting with Belisle to convince him that he should back off on the separation decision.”
And let us never mention Cabinet consensus again.