Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Can of Worms

Well, this figures to be fun. I'm so glad we spent all that money to help re-elect the most federalist Premier from Quebec in Stephen Harper's lifetime.

Quebec wants to define 'nation' status
JOCELYNE RICHER

QUEBEC -- The provincial government plans to force the federal government's hand on how it views the division of powers with the provinces and spending, Quebec Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Benoît Pelletier says.

Premier Jean Charest's government also wants to finally see Quebec's distinctiveness recognized in the Constitution in a charter of open federalism.

[...]

Mr. Pelletier said he wants the federal government to be specific in its recognition of Quebec on its national characteristics as well as the limits of federal spending powers.

The federal government has already recognized the Québécois as a nation within a united Canada but has never really been clear about what that means.

Mr. Pelletier said that instead of being a vague document, he wants the charter to be a blueprint for future dealings with the provinces.

He said a charter of open federalism could be a significant contribution to modern Canada and signal the advent of a "much healthier federalism."

"If Ottawa is not ready to define the contents of this charter, I am," Mr. Pelletier said.

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22 Comments:

  • Yessiree - Steve Harper is the head of state of a Canada adn declaring that we are now so united under his watch that it rivals the 1967 heydays.

    I figure it will all end up being a bit Shakespearian very soon as the Harper's intentionally vague concept of Nation State will turn around soon to bite hard on some part of his political anatomy.

    My guess it will happen just as we begin to remember that his federal budget equalization payments were so badly needed to fix the "fiscal imbalance" in Quebec they ended up as Charest's tax cuts.

    Yes Mr. Harper is a Canadian uniter all right...just ask the Premiers of Sask, Nfld and NS.

    And now Ontario becoming "have-not-ish" will not help unite Canada too much either I expect. They seem to want their fiscal imbalance restored because they are contributing too much into Canada or so they say.

    And we have Alberta's Premier saying "Don't mess with Texas" (aka Alberta) and troop support at 50/50 and the CWB fiasco - and I could go on but right now I feel a warm surge of Conservative unity welling up inside me right now...but it might just be gas.

    By Blogger Ken Chapman, at 5:20 PM  

  • Hey Ken,

    We may agree on the Quebec part of this, but we all know that the equalization formulae will screw some Canadians to the benefit of others, just because PMartin needed to get reelected. And the others dont' give a shit, as long as they get theirs.

    So, we get to pay the cheques PM wrote, and he doesn't even have to show up for work anymore. Sweet!

    By Blogger Moebius, at 6:09 PM  

  • At least PM-PM showed up for work when he had the job and was willing to talk with premiers, media, public etc.
    Of course, moebluster may prefer directions from Mount Crapolla where Harpor sits on his throne, preaching like Bagdad Bob on how "we're more united", on how we're "better off" unless you owed a lot of Income trusts, happen to be First Nations, can't find daycare for 3.43 a day, enjoy Canadian culture and don't mind bribing Quebec taxpayers with money that was suppose to pay off Alberta oil derricks!

    By Blogger burlivespipe, at 6:20 PM  

  • The only definition of "nation" that I can see the Government and the opposition (well, the Liberals anyway) agreeing on is "sociological nation", as Dion explained it when he supported the motion. And fair enough, it is a fact that Quebecois form a sociological nation (one of several) within a united Canada.

    The problem with that wording, as I see it, is that it says 'Quebec is a nation within a united Canada', which is not exactly true on Dion's definition of what "nation" is supposed to mean in this case.

    And I don't forsee Quebec agreeing to that definition, especially since the PQ and the ADQ can together out-vote the Liberals.

    By Blogger Brandon E. Beasley, at 7:05 PM  

  • *And by "The problem with that wording..." i mean the wording of the motion that approved by the House.

    By Blogger Brandon E. Beasley, at 7:06 PM  

  • The motion in english said Québecois not Quebec.

    By Blogger Dan McKenzie, at 7:54 PM  

  • It did, eh? Well that clears that up then. In the media (if I recall correctly) it was always talked about as "Quebec is a nation..." Thanks for the clarification Dan.

    By Blogger Brandon E. Beasley, at 8:46 PM  

  • The most important issue is not the definition of nationhood.

    It is the aggressive bid by the Premiers for funding, aided by Harper - who cares naught for Canada and prefers provincial powers to be increased.

    So, keep your eye on the coded attempt to destroy the ability of the federal government to behave as it has over the past five decades, by giving up its power to fund areas it has funded in the past.

    Dion is far to close to this line of thinking, as well: it is not mainsteam Liberal Party thinking, but basically anti-central government thinking.

    The debate will sharpen this: expect Harper to agree to cut a deal limiting the power of Parliament, and Dion to go along with it. And then wait for the explosion when people realize just what the professional provincial politicians and their care-nothing Prime Minister is doing to gut the power of the federal government!

    By Blogger CuriosityCat, at 9:59 PM  

  • Have you guys considered that Harper might want this can of worms opened ?

    An election campaign revolving around the proper roles and responsibilites of each level of governement would be right up Harper's alley. Harper has the CPC solidly united behind him and his vision of respecting the separation of powers as outlined in the BNA Act.

    Dion, on the other hand, would have to reconcile the differing views within the LPC--from the hard federalist approach of a Trudeau/Chretien to the soft nationalist approach of a Martin/Lapierre.

    And of course there is always Layton on Dion's left, ready with his sharpest socialist rhetoric, should Dion stray too far from the big central government favored by Dippers.

    By Blogger Calgary Junkie, at 10:37 PM  

  • As for where Dion is on Nation - read the Clarity Act and the SCC decision on the Reference...That is pure Dion...and hardly centralist.

    Ask a clear question that can be replied to with a clear yes or no answer and then if you want to leave Canada - God speed.

    Otherwise quit playing politics with nationhood as a cover for powerlust.

    Under more Harper or even some Morton Alberta is as likely to leave Canada as Quebec is with those rules...maybe even sooner under some scenarios.

    Be careful what you ask for and don't play petty games for pure purposes of power...it is time for Statesmen in politics not panderers or potentates a la Harper.

    I will consent to be governed but only by those worthy of consent.

    By Blogger Ken Chapman, at 10:53 PM  

  • calgary junkie - Harper has the solid support of the CPC on this issue?

    How many Alberta Tories do you think agreed with the nation motion?

    By Blogger Glen, at 10:57 PM  

  • Glen, I'm talking about CPC members supporting the governing philosophy of respecting the separation of powers as outlined in the BNA Act. Section 91 for federal powers and Section 92 for provincial powers.

    Re the Quebcois as a nation motion, Myron Thompson in a scrum said anything that sets the separatists back on their heels is a good thing. The one CPC dissenter was Michael Chong who resigned his cabinet post.

    By Blogger Calgary Junkie, at 11:27 PM  

  • I have a serious problem with all these Liberal bloggers who are taking the bait on this one.

    Just because we agree with them on one point doesn't mean we agree with them on a completely unrelated point.

    Just because we agree that Quebec is a nation does not mean we agree that it is being disadvantaged by the federal government.

    Just because they try to tie the two together in some silly double-speak - "We'd like the government to clarify both our nationhood and our screwed-over-ness" - doesn't mean we should all stand up and say "See? See? I told you this was a can of worms."

    We shouldn't have to avoid being honest with one another because of the possibility that someone will take what is true and use it as a premise in a patently retarded argument.

    There is a nation in Quebec, and that fact does not support the decentralist argument. It can't, because if there is a nation now, it is because there always was a nation. Admitting it doesn't change Quebec, nor does it require changes in how we treat it.

    Any argument to the contrary is non-sense. And any suggestion that we should not have had the conversation about nationhood because people are willing to make non-sense arguments is legitimizing intellectual backwardness.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 12:46 AM  

  • Well, then Calgary Junkie, I look forward to the revival of the powers of disallowance and reservation, and the fact that any matter not explicitly falling into the areas of provincial jurisdiction is deemed to fall under Parliament's legislative power. Moreover, nothing in Sections 92-95 has bearing on the legality and constitutional nature of the federal spending power, nor is there any basis for taking the BNA Act as somehow justifying the decentralist wet dreams of Harperites.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 12:48 AM  

  • Ken Chapman: "I will consent to be governed but only by those worthy of consent."

    Wow. Have you turned separatist?

    "As for where Dion is on Nation - read the Clarity Act and the SCC decision on the Reference...That is pure Dion...and hardly centralist."

    You may want to do a bit of homework on that, as I'm not so sure it's "pure Dion."

    By Blogger Candace, at 2:43 AM  

  • You are all obviously not that bright. Note the part about Quebec's nationhood being IN THE CONSTITUTION. Obviously Charest isn't going to phrase that from the perspective of "I want to get Quebec in the constitution, so the separatists lose a favourite toy".

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 9:17 AM  

  • The separatists are the third party for the first time in three decades and aren't pushing separatism.

    Best way to give them a boost is a round of constitutional negotiations.

    Last time it almost destroyed the Conservative party and gave us 13 years of Liberal rule. I don't think Harper's stupid enough to go down that road again. I mean, I've seen the man around airplanes and so far he hasn't walked into a propeller, so why would he walk into something more likely to be fatal?

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 12:59 PM  

  • "we're "better off" unless you owed a lot of Income trusts, happen to be First Nations, can't find daycare for 3.43 a day, enjoy Canadian culture and don't mind bribing Quebec taxpayers with money that was suppose to pay off Alberta oil derricks!"

    Silly rhetoric which has nothing to do with the original discussion. Equalization is still deeply flawed, because it became a slush fund.

    I lost little on IT's, since I diversified my portfolio, we earned one income, and provided our kids with daycare by parent, a novel idea, First Nations are worse off now than in the past?, and bribing Quebec taxpayers is a new conservative concept?

    By Blogger Moebius, at 6:53 PM  

  • Silly rhetoric which has nothing to do with the original discussion. Equalization is still deeply flawed, because it became a slush fund.

    Evidently you don't recognize silly rhetoric (slush fund, eh?) when it comes from your own mouth (or keyboard).

    I lost little on IT's, since I diversified my portfolio, we earned one income, and provided our kids with daycare by parent, a novel idea, First Nations are worse off now than in the past?, and bribing Quebec taxpayers is a new conservative concept?

    Actually, it's really a rather old conservative concept. Harper is simply following in Mulroney's footsteps.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 11:08 PM  

  • ...and Mulroney was following...?

    By Blogger Moebius, at 11:56 AM  

  • It's an interesting thread that has me agreeing with Gauntlet and Reality Bites...

    "The separatists are the third party for the first time in three decades and aren't pushing separatism. Best way to give them a boost is a round of constitutional negotiations."

    Thank you. Meech Lake anyone?

    And as for the "Quebec(ois) a nation" thing... Laissez le bébé avoir sa bouteille.

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 12:05 AM  

  • (And yes, I used BabelFish to translate that, so feel free to point out how wrong it is.)

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 12:07 AM  

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