By Alex Ballingall - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - 0 Comments
Nothing shakes up the country’s pundits and politicians like a few comments on national…
Nothing shakes up the country’s pundits and politicians like a few comments on national unity from a prominent Canadian. In February, an uproar followed remarks made by Liberal MP—and son of a legendary prime minister—Justin Trudeau regarding his willingness to support Quebec separatism if the country continues down the path the Conservatives are taking in Ottawa.
On Tuesday, it was Michael Ignatieff’s turn. The former Liberal leader prompted a flurry of reactions after he told the BBC, in an interview about the prospect of a Scottish referendum on independence, that “over time the two societies will move ever, ever further apart. That is I think what the Canadian example will tell you. . . It’s kind of a way station. You stop there for a while. But I think the logic eventually is independence, full independence.”
“The interview on the issue of the referendum on Scottish independence made clear that Canada offers an internationally recognized model for the conciliation of political differences. I also shared my concerns about the future of this country: we must not drift apart and we must not allow illusions about each other to divide us. Canada is bigger than our differences. We need to affirm our faith in a country that has always proved strong enough to embrace the national identities, language and culture of us all.”
“I oppose the separation of Canada and Quebec, as I oppose the separation of Scotland and the United Kingdom, and we need to face any threats to our unity with determination and resolve. The argument we need to make to our fellow citizens who choose the separatist option ought to appeal to hope rather than fear. We are stronger together than apart, stronger in the embrace of our differences and stronger in the prosperous life we have built together over the centuries.”
While commentators heaped scorn (or praise, as in the case of Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois) on Ignatieff, many missed the CROP poll on the Quebec sovereignty movement published by La Presse on Tuesday. It found that 36 per cent of Quebeckers support independence, a lacklustre figure when compared with figures from the 1990s.
By Colby Cosh - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 5:06 AM - 0 Comments
If you enjoy seeing somebody injure themselves trying to occupy two positions at once, have a look at Josée Legault. The Montreal Gazette columnist and former PQ strategist was largely responsible for viralizing Justin Trudeau’s weekend remarks on separatism; transcribing his remarks on her blog, she accurately noted how unthinkable Trudeau’s position would have been to his late father, and how surprising they were coming from any Liberal. Yet when the story blew up in English Canada a couple days later, Legault took umbrage. Those hysterical Anglos had distorted the story. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 95 Comments
WELLS: Even if Jack Layton fades in the stretch, something permanent will remain
Maybe now we can stop telling ourselves Canadian elections are predictable.
It is fashionable in Ottawa circles before every election campaign to draw oneself back from the lunch table, let one’s gaze wander toward the ceiling, and announce to the room, “I don’t know why we’re even bothering to have an election, anyway. It’s not like it’ll change anything.” More often than not these weary predictions are wildly wrong.
The 2000 election killed the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and—because Jean Chrétien was able to win a plurality in Quebec less than a year after he passed the Clarity Act—the political career of Lucien Bouchard. In 2004, Paul Martin came within an ace of losing power to an upstart Calgarian whom Liberals had viewed with contempt. In 2006, Stephen Harper took Martin down. In 2008, Harper confirmed his hold on the seats he’d won and drove Stéphane Dion’s Liberals to their lowest share of the popular vote since Confederation.
By Martin Patriquin - Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 29 Comments
Ezra Levant is wrong. The CBC Vote Compass thing isn’t a shill for the…
Ezra Levant is wrong. The CBC Vote Compass thing isn’t a shill for the Liberal Party of Canada*. For fans of National Unity™, it’s actually much worse. The CBC, or at least the CBC Vote Compass, is apparently in bed with the coalition-loving, Canada-hating, tax-and-spend separatists. Gadzooks!
A nefarious CBC mole of my acquaintance pointed this out to me while we rode the Métro together yesterday. Basically, he pointed out that if you say you’re from Quebec and answer the Vote Compass questions in a mildly lefty fashion (strong yes to getting out of Afghanistan, soft yes to government policies to stimulate economy, etc), you have a good chance of being designated a Bloc Québécois voter—even if you answer “strongly disagree” to “Quebec should become an independent state.”
I did it with my riding, just for fun. Here’s the crucial question:
I finished the questionnaire, the Vote Compass thought long and hard, and spat out the following:
Weird. Based on the national unity question alone, you’d think the national unity question would disqualify the Bloc entirely. It’s the reason the party exists, after all, despite whatever late-game spin Duceppe is spouting these days.
*A quick note: my God, Sun News been slogging that tired narrative for all it’s worth. I guess it sucks for them/it that most Canadians are part of that giant, mushy, feel-good sort-of-left-of-centre usurped long ago by the Liberal Party of Canada. They even used to win election after election thanks to it.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, April 17, 2011 at 6:38 PM - 98 Comments
Stephen Harper, 2008. The Liberals’ carbon tax plan will plunge Canada into recession, sparking economic unrest that will revive Quebec’s separatist movement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says. Harper revived the ghosts of regional divisions today as he painted the Liberals’ greenhouse gas strategy as a costly folly whose impacts will reach far beyond the country’s economy. ”By undermining the economy and re-centralizing money and power in Ottawa, it can only undermine the progress that we have been making on national unity,” Harper told a breakfast audience this morning.
Stephen Harper, 2011. Stephen Harper urged voters Sunday to elect a Conservative majority government as the best defence against a renewed drive by Quebec separatists to break up the country … “He has said that they are moving towards, they are walking towards his objective — the sovereignty of Quebec and another Quebec referendum,” Mr. Harper said of Mr. Duceppe. “And he says step one to achieve that is to stop a federal Conservative majority government in Ottawa. Step one is to weaken the country, have a weak government in Ottawa, and that is another reason why Canadians, we believe, must choose a strong, stable, national Conservative government.”
By Martin Patriquin - Saturday, April 16, 2011 at 3:47 PM - 21 Comments
The Parti Québécois leader looks to placate hardliners at the party’s convention in Montreal
They were scattered around Montreal’s Palais des Congrès last night, quiet and deferential to a fault, politely handing out cards to anyone who would take them. Printed on these cards—well, let’s call them photocopied and apparently hand-cut bits of paper—was the following message:
DURING THIS 16TH CONGRESS
IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE
To the uninitiated, the message is surely puzzling: after all, isn’t achieving sovereignty exactly what the PQ is about? Should we also remind people that water is wet, the sky is blue and Carey Price is somewhat better than last season? Continue…
By John Geddes - Monday, February 14, 2011 at 1:35 PM - 20 Comments
Stephen Harper faces high-stakes fights on many fronts
Stephen Harper’s admirers and detractors argue over most things about him, but they agree he’s no pushover. To his fans, he’s admirably resolute. To his foes, plain mean. Yet on a key dimension of federal politics that has traditionally brought out the pugnacious side in prime ministers, Harper has seemed to be neither. Five years into the job, and his approach to the provinces has been mostly conflict-adverse and conciliatory. He’s bought peace by boosting transfer payments by billions, defused explosive issues, and avoided policy clashes. Only Newfoundland’s Danny Williams was a persistent source of friction, and he helped smooth the waters late last year by quitting.
But the Prime Minister’s unusual run of relative peace with the premiers might not last much longer. Among close watchers of federal-provincial relations, expectations that the two levels of government are headed for strife are nearly unanimous. The key reason: most of the major deals covering Ottawa’s transfer payments to the provinces are slated to expire in three years. The terms are so contentious, and the money so vital to the provinces, that talks to replace them must ramp up soon. “This could very possibly be the most intense and challenging period in federal-provincial relations since the Charlottetown and Meech Lake period,” says Matthew Mendelsohn, director of the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation, referring to the wrenching constitutional conflicts of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
If that sounds extreme, consider the stakes. The current relationship between Ottawa and the provinces rests on two fiscal arrangements, both of which left little reason for most premiers to do anything but smile broadly. In 2004, then-Liberal prime minister Paul Martin agreed to hike payments to the provinces to fund health care by $41 billion over 10 years. Harper’s 2007 budget injected another $39 billion over seven years into a wide range of provincial transfers, under terms particularly welcomed in Quebec and Ontario. “Spread money around,” says Mendelsohn. “It’s a long-standing federal approach to regional conflict.”
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, July 19, 2010 at 11:05 AM - 0 Comments
COYNE: Stephen Harper has been playing up the province’s role in Canadian history
The most striking passage in David Johnston’s speech on being named Canada’s next governor general, apart from the reference to the Queen as “our head of state” (there seemed to be some doubt on his predecessor’s part), was his lengthy encomium to Samuel de Champlain, “Canada’s first governor.” In case anyone did not catch his drift, he ended by invoking the example of his predecessors, “from Samuel de Champlain to Michaëlle Jean.”
But wait a minute. Johnston is, as he says, the representative of the Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II, great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, granddaughter of George III, the first monarch to rule over what was then called British North America. Champlain served a different king, from an altogether different royal house: Louis XIII of France.
By John Geddes - Monday, June 1, 2009 at 4:35 PM - 7 Comments
As my colleague Aaron Wherry has already noted, there’s a painful lack of self-awareness in the Conservative party’s assault today on the Liberals for casting every other issue as a potential unity crisis.
The Tories accurately cite recent cases where Liberals (often Michael Ignatieff himself) suggested national unity was at stake in EI reform, the rural-urban divide, energy policy, the future of the oil sands, regional alienation, and the electrical power grid.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 1, 2009 at 3:34 PM - 7 Comments
New to the inbox, a press release from the Conservative party expressing deep and genuine concern that the Liberals are too loosely throwing around the notion of national unity. The breathless kicker:
Michael Ignatieff and his team recklessly throw around the term “national unity”. If Michael Ignatieff had spent more time in Canada, instead of living abroad for 34 years, he and his team would likely be more careful about raising the spectre of national unity concerns so frequently and in response to so many issues.
Anyway. So Michael Ignatieff’s been out of the country for, like, ever. What’s Stephen Harper’s excuse?
By Philippe Gohier - Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 4:27 PM - 16 Comments
The graphic above, lifted from the Conservative website (hat tip to the indefatigable Elizabeth…
(1) It highlights just how much the Conservatives have relied on the Bloc to stay afloat in Ottawa. And…
(2) It shows just how much the Conservatives’ relationship with Quebecers has changed over the last couple of days.
By Andrew Coyne - Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 3:31 PM - 155 Comments
“The carbon tax will do more than undermine the economy,” Harper said to a crowd of business leaders. “By undermining the economy and by re-centralizing money and power in Ottawa, it can only undermine the progress we have been making on national unity.”
Harper’s comments appear to step up the Tories’ relentless attacks on Dion’s Green Shift plan, which would balance a carbon tax with income-tax cuts.
An outraged Dion quickly struck back at his rival, calling Harper’s comments “irresponsible,” and citing his record in taking on Lucien Bouchard as intergovernmental affairs minister and succeeding in drafting and passing the Clarity Act into law.
“While he was busy talking about building firewalls in the West, I was fighting to keep my country together,” Dion said in New Brunswick, where he was speaking to the Board of Trade. “I do not need any lessons from Stephen Harper on fighting for the national unity of my country.”
MORE: “We must stop elevating every policy difference into a national unity crisis,” he said. “It is completely irresponsible for Stephen Harper to do this.”
Snap and double snap.