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It ain't pretty... 

You, and many others, have taken comfort from the overall liberalness of the new Liberal/Bloc/ NDP opposition in Parliament. Within limits, I would agree with you. The rub—and it's a big one—will come along the fault line where national social policy intersects with Quebec nationalism.

In areas involving national standards, the Blocs' progressiveness will run smack into its primary directive: Quebec sovereignty. So, when Harper decides that he wants to gut the Canada Health Act, Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc will be lining up to voice their support. We saw this in 1995 when the Liberals repealed the Canada Assistance Plan that, on the Liberal's own assessment, had for 30 years been "one of the major cornerstones of the social security system in Canada." As official opposition at the time, the Bloc's only concern in parliament was that the repealing legislation didn't go far enough to remove any possibility of the re-introduction of national standards in the area of social assistance. So much for the beauty of a minority government.

By Vince Calderhead

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