Sunday, November 14, 2010

Could age kill off the Bloc?

Though speculation about the demise of the Bloc Québécois is always rampant, this article about North Ireland's diminishing nationalists and their old membership, also as well how the old Irish dissidents in Sinn Fein are losing control over the new ones, got me thinking: is it going to be age that ends up being the final nail in the Bloc's coffin?

Think about it this way: in Parliament, the Bloc contains the oldest and the youngest members. Yet, when you average out the ages of all the caucus members, the Bloc caucus is the oldest sitting in Parliament right now by a bit. The average age of the Bloc caucus is 55.2 years old, compared to 52 years for Conservatives, 54.2 for the Liberals, and 53.6 for the NDP. Overall, the average age of Parliament is 53.2 years of age. I did these calculations by hand, but you can also check it on this Parliament site.**

While a 1-year spread isn't big, it's enough to raise an eyebrow or two. If the Bloc's caucus is the oldest now, what does that say about its refresh rate (the number of new members that replace older members) and the vibrancy of the party? What about the fact that party's leadership has essentially stayed the same since 1997, with Duceppe at a the helm, and all the same various actors since then staying on in some form or another, with no new faces, save for the exception of Daniel Paillé? Even the Liberals have managed a couple of turnovers since then. Stability is one thing, stagnancy is another.

What's more, we can rule out the idea of the destruction of Quebec separatism, because it'll be around for awhile yet. However, the Bloc, like Sinn Fein, represent older constituencies of separatists/nationalists, ones that have tempered their rhetoric, and turned in their placards and wavers (or in the case of some, guns and weapons), and have become sitting MPs and government members, more interested in policy than action. So what happens if the aging Bloc can no longer control younger, newer breeds of nationalists in Quebec who are upset with the snails-pace of change? Could the Bloc be replaced with a more action-oriented party, as the Northern Irish SDLP were with Sinn Fein?

I don't know, but its something to think about. As the Bloc gets older, will the young decide to leave them in the dustbin of history?

The Parliament website says that the Conservatives have an average age of 51.9, the Liberals 53.9, and the Bloc 55.4 - but this is because they're missing the ages of several members of these parties, ages that I found. Particularly, Maurice Vellacott is 55, Raymonde Folco is 70, Yasmin Ratansi is 59, and Maria Mourani is 41. I did not find Carole Freeman's age, so I did not add her in, and dropped the Bloc seat count to 46. Regardless, the Bloc caucus is still older by at least one year.


  1. A poll asking younger voters who they would vote for 13.4% of Canadians would vote Bloc. That's about if my math is correct almost 50%, and I thought that in the 1995 referendum the older voters the one's above 65 were the most against separatism as they wondered where the new Quebec country would get there pensions from.

  2. That doesn't mean anything, however, unless you can point me towards a poll asking the separation question with breakdowns of all demographics.