Monday, February 20, 2012

I love Canada...so long as I run it

Justin Trudeau raised a bit of a stir last week with his comments that he'd consider supporting Quebec separatism if the Harper government took Canada too far to the right. Most have already weighed in on this, and my opinion comes closest to Andrew Coyne's:

I don’t doubt that some of the things the Harper government has done have been unpopular in Quebec. Forgive me if I suggest that is not enough, in itself, to condemn them. Every government does things that some people like, and some people don’t. That some of the latter group are in Quebec does not elevate the matter into a national emergency, as if it were impermissible that Quebecers could be dissatisfied: a guarantee given to no other section of the country. The only reason it occurs to people to suggest it is because of the threat of separatism, and the only reason the threat has any currency is because of the willingness of others to indulge, or indeed validate it.

For Justin, of all people, to be among their number is especially unfortunate. But as I say, Justin isn’t really the problem.


I'm a fan of Justin, but these comments show a high level of immaturity - I don't like the government, so I'm leaving. I would add that you saw quite a bit of this in Western Canada too after the 2004 election, and it was no more appealing there.

Obviously Justin Trudeau isn't the only Quebecer, or the only politician, who feels this way. Given his name, his comments will only serve to help propagate this "my way or I'm hitting the highway" feeling, which isn't part of a healthy political dialogue.

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25 Comments:

  • Hear hear!

    By Blogger Volkov, at 11:32 AM  

  • True. If only we could have a healthy political dialogue...something the Harperites are not interested in...

    By Blogger John Locke, at 12:19 PM  

  • John, how can there be a 'healthy political dialogue' when the Libs and NDP are motivated by hatred of anyone and everything in 'Harper's Canada' (and the West)?

    It has become totally acceptable even praised, for MPs to call a Minister of the Crown a piece of sh.., or Honourable A$$hole.

    Warren Kinsella asks 'have we created a monster'?

    Yah, wasn't that the whole idea, fearmongering and culture wars? Make PM Harper and his govt as hated as George Bush????
    How's that working for you....

    By Blogger wilson, at 12:57 PM  

  • To be honest, I don't think it's about the government in charge, but rather the fact that there is this perception that Canada is becoming more right leaning. Versus Quebec, which is slightly more left leaning. (I should note that these are both common perceptions, not necessarily based in fact)


    The question that actually has to be asked is, "does Canada and Quebec share the same values". If the answer is "no"; then why should Quebec remain part of Canada? If "yes" then how can Canadians vote for Stephen Harper's version of the Conservative Party?

    Either way, the point I'm trying to make is that anytime there is a right leaning government, in Quebec there's going to be questions about whether or not they should be apart of Canada. Justin apparently is no exception to this. And for whatever it's worth, I really don't blame him (or Quebec as a whole) for raising this question.

    By Blogger Blah, blah, blah, at 12:58 PM  

  • ''...anytime there is a right leaning government, in Quebec there's going to be questions about whether or not they should be apart of Canada...''

    huh?

    What 'national unity' crisis has there been since Harper won government Blah Blah??

    Quebec tried to separate under Chretien's Liberal govt.
    Seppies have lost seats ever since PMSH was elected.

    In fact, Quebcers chose a federalist party in 2011, booted out the seppies after 20 years, and gave Liberals the boot too.

    Time to face reality, and drop the myths.

    By Blogger wilson, at 1:18 PM  

  • Jeez is my memory failing me or was it only a few years ago that some current senators and MP's were espousing the benefits of Western or Alberta separation and with considerably more vitriol than Trudeau?

    By Anonymous Fred Webb, at 1:43 PM  

  • "Jeez is my memory failing me or was it only a few years ago that some current senators and MP's were espousing the benefits of Western or Alberta separation and with considerably more vitriol than Trudeau?"

    Not sure which senators and MPs these are (can you elaborate on that?), but I would imagine that none of them have the status that Justin Trudeau does. Are any of these senators or MPs being touted as potential leaders of their respective parties, and thus one day possibly being the Prime Minister of the country?

    By Anonymous Jim R, at 2:32 PM  

  • Trudeau's remarks are not what I would expect from a potential leadership Candidate for any Party. Canadians clearly prefer leaders who endure, who are loyal and faithful and who demonstrate a love for this country that transcends petty political ambitions. Already I miss Jack Layton! (And I'm a Tory!)

    By Blogger Peter, at 2:35 PM  

  • I think wilson is competing with Vic Toews for the "Hey I'm the real victim here" award. Such a pile of disingenuous whining from one of the biggest bullying thugs on the comment boards.


    Trudeau is not embracing Quebec separatism. He is saying that if the western fascists continue to make Canada unrecognizable, then the land where Quebec is might as well resume being the real Canada, and the new county Harperland can go fuck itself.

    So it wouldn't be Quebec separating as Quebec. It would be the real Canada reclaiming itself by closing the border from the Northern Foundation sheikdom.

    By Blogger liberal supporter, at 8:10 PM  

  • Not sure which senators and MPs these are (can you elaborate on that?), but I would imagine that none of them have the status that Justin Trudeau does.

    How about Stephen Harper back in 2000, where he wrote for the National PostSeparation, Alberta-style: It is time to seek a new relationship with Canada.

    "This is perhaps not surprising. Alberta and much of the rest of Canada have embarked on divergent and potentially hostile paths to defining their country.

    "Alberta has opted for the best of Canada’s heritage — a combination of American enterprise and individualism with the British traditions of order and co-operation. We have created an open, dynamic and prosperous society in spite of a continuously hostile federal government.

    "Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status, led by a second-world strongman appropriately suited for the task.

    ....

    "Westerners, but especially Albertans, founded the Reform/Alliance to get “in” to Canada. The rest of the country has responded by telling us in no uncertain terms that we do not share their “Canadian values.” Fine. Let us build a society on Alberta values."

    Man, Harper hated Chretien as much as Trudeau hates him.

    He backs away from calling right-out for separation, but the idea of a province going it's own way because the rest of the country put another party in power echoes Trudeau's comments.

    Harper did it again in the famous "firewall" letter, which basically urges Alberta to withdraw from federal programs -- essentially getting as independent as possible without officially declaring soverignty because of a dispute over health care between the province and the federal government.

    And lo, five years later, this guy was our prime minister.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 8:34 PM  

  • What 'national unity' crisis has there been since Harper won government Blah Blah??

    Not in the last few years, but I wouldn't put any money down that there isn't the potential for one to blow up. The PQ have rebounded. This may be the result of the bloom coming off of the Coalition Avenir Québec, and the miserable Quebec Liberal government... but I doubt that scenes like Harper turning down a meeting with the PQ leader will hurt the PQ in the polls.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 9:39 PM  

  • So just to summarize both sides here...

    Political dialog is a problem in Canada, but it is entirely the fault of western fascist separatists, who do not represent "real Canada". Without a gun registry [never mind that there was no gun registry before the 90's] Quebec has no reason to stay in Canada.

    Whereas for the other camp, the issue is that Liberals and NDP'ers are motivated by a hatred of everything Conservative and western. Harper is also the most successful federalist ever - a fact which should be added to Pierre Trudeau's tombstone.

    So might I suggest a more modest interpretation?

    1. Political dialog is toxic because people on the left AND the right increasingly live in echo chambers. Yes, both can justify their vitriol by pointing to outrageous statements by the other side - but is that really getting us anywhere?

    Liberals, New Democrats and Tories all love Canada. They differ somewhat in the tradeoffs they would make, but agree on fundamental questions (eg. democracy, liberty, etc.).

    2. None of Canada's parties are particularly extreme by international or even historical standards. On fiscal issues Harper's record is less conservative than Chretien's.

    In office he largely continued the Chretien-Martin foreign policy, differing only in rhetoric. On social issues Harper hasn't reversed gay marriage (something few countries allow) and still maintains fairly strict gun control laws.

    Nor is the Liberal Party or even NDP particularly extremist. None proposed major tax hikes in the last election, with proposals that would have changed things primarily at the margins.

    3. Even if we had an extremist government, Canada is one of the most decentralized countries in the world. Alberta and Quebec already have a firewall - it's called fiscal federalism. There is no reason for anybody to separate.

    4. On top of that, Canada is an incredibly awesome place to live. We are one of the freest, richest, and stablest countries in the world. Canada will probably still be pretty great if the NDP or Liberals win the next election.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 10:03 PM  

  • Anyways, this incident is excellent news for the Liberal Party. Can you imagine if Justin had actually won the party leadership? That's a total disaster we no longer have to worry about.

    P.S. Hoser2Hoosier,Excellent summary.

    By Blogger Brian Henry, at 10:55 PM  

  • Political dialog is a problem in Canada, but it is entirely the fault of western fascist separatists, who do not represent "real Canada". Without a gun registry [never mind that there was no gun registry before the 90's] Quebec has no reason to stay in Canada.

    Political dialogue isn't the fault of Western fascist separatists. I personally find is amusing that Trudeau is doing what Harper did a few years back. Harper's letter is well written, but the same contempt for the federal government, the same need to take the metaphoric ball and go home, is there. Damn Trudeau for being narcissistic, etc -- but you could have damned Harper for the same. It still didn't seem to be a big stumbling block to power. (Might say something about us as a country.)

    Sorry, can't help but find the situation funny.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 10:35 AM  

  • It's funny because if you hate Trudeau's comments and think he'd make a poor leader... well then what about Harper. And it's funny because if you love the tough stand Trudeau takes... well, what about Harper about a decade ago?

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 10:40 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 10:56 AM  

  • Was John Locke being ironic?

    As for Justin Trudeau, rather than attack Harper and his actual policies, he built a fictional version of Harper and his policies and attacked those instead.

    We don't need yet another bitter partisan, which is exactly what Justin Trudeau is.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 11:11 AM  

  • In office he largely continued the Chretien-Martin foreign policy, differing only in rhetoric. On social issues Harper hasn't reversed gay marriage (something few countries allow) and still maintains fairly strict gun control laws.

    I agree with most of your points, no change in party is worth leaving the country over, but just a few notes on this. I doubt that the Conservatives will touch gay marriage, but I do believe there has been changes with regards to foreign policy and gun control laws.

    Various analysis on foreign policy. The majority note a shift (even if you toss out Dellaire for an obvious Liberal bias).

    Something must have changed considering that Canada lost its recent bid for a security council seat. As the CBC notes, "Council members are supposed to be chosen on the basis of their contributions to international peace and security." So, after winning six times, once per decade, after a nine year campaign, Canada lost. The Conservatives blamed Ignatieff's big fat mouth (he does have one, but I doubt anyone cares outside of Canada.)Paul Heinbecker, UN ambassador in 2000, but also Chief Foreign Policy Advisor and speechwriter for Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, cited decreased African aid, its support of Israel, and its stance on climate change and peacekeeping as the reason for Canada's lost.

    As for gun control, two loopholes have opened up. The first is via you don't have to check a person's license.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 11:30 AM  

  • The two loopholes (well not loopholes as much as new weakness in gun laws)....

    1. Importation -- illegal arms coming in as unrestricted arms.

    2. Licensing -- you don't really have to check them when selling.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 11:36 AM  

  • @sharonapple88
    That's correct - at no time that I know of did Harper advocate separation for Alberta. I am also unaware of him ever contemplating a scenario in which Alberta could, would, or should separate with his blessing - unlike the case with Mr Trudeau.

    He did at one point advocate firewalling Alberta, which is:
    a) significantly different from separation
    b) the strategy Quebec has been following for decades (QPP, collect own provincial income tax, continuous calling for ability to opt out of national programs with full compensation).
    c) consistent with a small-c conservative view of a decentralized federal government (which, although anathema to Liberals, is a totally valid view).

    By Anonymous Jim R, at 11:36 AM  

  • To many Canadians Quebec has already set the agenda for Canada for the past several generations. As Rex Murphy said, Trudeau is our star politician and commands the stage whenever he wants it. His sabre rattling won't do the Libs any good: Rex also called the Big Red Machine a Costa Concordia laying on its side!

    By Anonymous David, at 12:51 PM  

  • That's correct - at no time that I know of did Harper advocate separation for Alberta. I am also unaware of him ever contemplating a scenario in which Alberta could, would, or should separate with his blessing - unlike the case with Mr Trudeau.

    Well, as the title for his National Post article says, it's "Separation, Alberta style." (The article's more inflammatory than the firewall letter in my opinion.) The comments to Quebec shows the problems of asymmetrical federation. As every parent knows, you can't give one child a cookie without the rest of your kids trying to grab one for themselves. The desire to concentrate control into Alberta or Quebec isn't also necessarily benign. As Rene Levesque argued, if a province can do as much for itself as possible, it might as well be independent since it needs nothing from the Federal government.
    ***
    As for any party being dead... remember when the federal NDP didn't have official party status? Or when the Canadian Alliance just got 19% support and Harper was saying that Canada had turned its back on Alberta? Or when everyone thought that the Liberals would be in power from here until Judgement Day?

    People suck at predictions because we're just good at extrapolating current conditions. We're not very good at predicting surprises (which are why they're called surprises). No one really knows what will happen in the future. Who knows. In five years we might be saying hello to Prime Minister Elizabeth May.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 2:01 PM  

  • Wake up Liberals! Justin issued to all of us a stern warning. The Canada we love is disappearing. The Canada we fought for, bled for, cried for, sacrificed for - it is slipping through our fingers because a mongrel horde is tearing the fabric of our country apart.

    Rise up! Rise Up! Rise Up! Go ahead, Rise Up! C'mon, feel the power of Trudeau's buttery voice calling us to action.

    If we Liberals can't win through the ballot box, we should win by any means possible. Otherwise, we're going to be carted away to forced labor camps.

    Rise up! Rise up!

    By Anonymous Harper is a Menace, at 1:33 PM  

  • That last comment seems a bit over the top, but let me tell you, I have a lot of friends in senior Tory circles and they have long-term plans for Canada that most of us wouldn't like.

    One Tory strategist told me that Harper plans unilateral action against Iran. And, they plan to make same-sex marriage a criminal offense.

    Personally, I am not going to stand aside and watch them put same-sex couples in jail just because they love each other.

    By Anonymous Tory-Connected Liberal, at 1:36 PM  

  • Ignoring the last two parody posters...

    sharonapple88: Well, as the title for his National Post article says, it's "Separation, Alberta style."

    The titles of articles are almost always written by the paper's editors, not the author.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 2:40 PM  

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