tive Party was torn asunder; Westernersrnabandoned the Conservatives to joinrnwhat was then a fringe Western partyrncalled Reform, quickly making it Canada’srnsecond-largest federal party. All tenrnof the premiers who signed Meech Lakernarc now out of politics. Wlien Mulroneyrnproposed revisions to the accord to helprnget it passed, Lucicn Bouchard, an environmentalrnminister in his government,rnbolted and formed the separatist BlocrnQuebecois. They were joined by pro-rnMeech Liberal Quebecers after partyrnleader and former Prime Minister JohnrnTurner was defeated by anti-Meech Liberalsrnled by Trudeau (who came out ofrnretirement to denounce the accord) andrnhis protege, Jean Chretien, who won thernLiberal leadership battle the very dayrnMeech Lake died, eventually becomingrnprime minister himselfrn”I did what I had to,” Mulroney toldrnMaclean’s. Besides forging a deal thatrnfractured the country, the ProgressivernConservatives bankrupted the treasuryrnwith their profligate ways, eventually removingrnthemselves to their Atlanticrnprovincial redoubts. Many Quebecersrnwho were not inclined toward independencernclosed ranks behind the Bloc Quebecois,rnfeeling they had enough of Anglorndouble crosses and abuse. Thanks tornMeech Lake, Quebec came within arnhairsbreadth of taking its place amongrnthe nations of the world in a referendumrnon secession in 1995.rnThe Liberals dominated Canadianrnpolihcs in the 1990’s not because anyonernparticularly liked their policies or therngaffe-prone and hideous Chretien, butrnbecause the opposition fragmented alongrnregional lines: Reform in the West, thernProgressive Conservatives in the far East,rnand the Bloc Quebecois in you-knowwhere.rnThe situation was so bad that thernBloc was actually the official oppositionrnpart)’ after Chretien’s first election victory’rnin 1993. Such a vacuum could not last.rnMeech Lake was the end of an era.rnThe implosion of the Tories meant therncollapse of Canada’s British-stv’le politics.rnVulnerable to all the trends and fads thatrncome across the border, Canadian politicsrnis increasingly Americanized. Nornlonger do Canadians march to churchrnbasements to listen to politicians speak.rnEverything now depends on television.rnThe parties employ American consultantsrn(John McCain’s guru, Mike Murphy,rnworks for Ontario’s Conservatives)rnand are almost mirror images of thosernacross the border. The New DemocraticrnPart)’ is Canada’s Greens; the Liberals,rnthe Democrats; the Bloc Quebecois is arnseparatist party with no counterpart in thernUnited States; and the discredited ProgressivernConservatives, led by formerrnPrime Minister Joe Clark, flop like dyingrnfish on a Newfoundland beach.rnMulroney ma’ have destroyed the ProgressivernConservatives, but he did incubaterntheir successors. Clearing away thernTory deadwood were the (gasp!) neoconservatives.rnThose youngsters (DavidrnFrum, for example), who grew up duringrnthe 1980’s and took seriously everv’thingrnthat Mulroney, Ronald Reagan, andrnMargaret Thatcher had to say, have risenrnto power. The}’ are the brains behind thernnew opposition part}’, the Canadian-ReformrnAlliance Part’, or CR^P. Since thernReform Part}’ could never break out of itsrnWestern stronghold, it merged with thernneocons running the Ontario governmentrnof Premier Mike Harris.rnCRAP aims to become the RepublicanrnPart}’ of Canada. The old ReformrnPart}’ was ver}’ much like the old COP:rnanti-tax. Western in outlook, pro-developmentrnof natural resources, pro-gun,rnpro-death penalty’, pro-family values, prodecentralization.rnNow that the neoconsrnare joining up, CRAP is becoming likernthe current Republicans. Its deputies inrnOttawa criticized the Liberals for takingrnthe perks of office, then voted with thernLiberals to enrich their pension plans.rnCRAP leadership candidate Tom Longrnwas criticized by party rivals for claimingrnto have signed up 6,000 new CRAP votersrnin the remote Caspe region of Quebec,rnwhich had been a Bloc strongholdrnuntil Long and his buddies showed up tornhand out ten-dollar bills in every tavernrnalong the Bais des Chalures. Even MikernHarris, the Newt Cingrich of Canadarnand Long’s mentor, has become boggedrndown in scandal, from the infamous E.rncoli outbreak (which caused 14 deaths)rnand coverup in a water-treatment plant tornthe cozy ties between Harris and real-estaterndevelopers looking to transform Ontariorninto a Canadian version of Arizona.rnThe newspapers and magazines sayrnCRAP is the fastest growing party inrnCanada: At 19 percent in the polls, it isrnnov’ only 30 points behind tlie governingrnLiberals. But there’s plentv’ of room torngrow.rnEven with a strong lead and facing arnfractured opposition, the Liberals fearrnthat they may hold a minority governmentrnin 2001. Some Canadians are fedrnup with the political song-and-dance; likerntheir American coimterparts, they arerntaking to the streets. With their Chomskyrnreaders in their backpacks and flowers onrntheir Birkenstocks, young protesters disruptedrna meeting of the Organization ofrnAmerican States in a reflection of Seattie’srnWTO protests. But the limit to suchrnpolitics was revealed when members ofrnthe Ontario Coalition Against Povert}’, arnunion-backed homeless organizationrn(which, like many homeless groups, isrnrun by a person living in a house), tried tornstorm the provincial legislature. Theyrnclashed with police, threw rocks andrnMolotov cocktails, and stabbed policernhorses while being arrested. There’s norntruth to the rmnor that Premier Harrisrnwas inside the building smiling andrnlaughing, his electoral coalition secure.rnMeanwhile, the 800-pound gorilla,rnQuebec secession, remains asleep —forrnnow. An improved economy has kept thernParti Quebecois quiet, waiting for itsrnchance to hold another referendum. Ottawarnsays that it will define the questionrnnext time and will recognize independencernonly if a clear majorit}’ votes for it.rnBrave words for a nation whose army isrnonly twice the size of the 8,000 TamilrnTiger guerrillas allegedly hiding inrnToronto. Is Prime Minister Chretienrnprepared to go to war to save the union?rnNever underestimate a globalist: After all,rnhis government supported NATO’srnbombing of Yugoslavia.rnSecession is scratched in both sides ofrnthe North American mirror. In the earlyrn1990’s, secessionist groups worked for independencernfor Staten Island, UpstaternNew York, Northern California, Montana,rnthe American Northwest, westernrnKansas and Nebraska, and the Lake Superiorrnregion. Massive immigration is fuelingrnHispanic nationalist groups in thernAmerican Southwest, and the more thernmemory of the Confederacy is attacked,rnthe more Southerners look to the Leaguernof the South. None of these movementsrnhave disappeared simply because of thern”greatest economic expansion in U.S.rnhistor}’.”rnMeech Lake supporters insist that, ifrnthe accord had passed, Canada woiddrnhave had constitutional peace for 30rnyears. But even so, the Parti Quebecoisrnwould still exist. Povert}’ is not the causernof secessionist forces. The fuel that createsrnthese groups—arrogance, insensitivit}’,rnbigotry, and elitism—still bums.rnSean Scallon is a journalist from EastrnEllsworth, Wisconsin.rn42/CHRONICLESrnrnrn