Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Stephen Harper and the Quebecois Nation Part 2

My hiatus notwithstanding I couldn't resist this story about Harper wanting to "bolster" Quebec in the constitution.

When this last came up over the Christmas holidays this was what I had to say:

"I was a bit alarmed to read this over at Paul Wells' blog. Stephen Harper apparently has been telling the Quebec media (in La Presse specifically) the following:“Stephen Harper souhaite que la résolution qui reconnaît les Québécois comme une nation soit incluse dans la Constitution canadienne”

Translation: Stephen Harper hopes that the resolution recognizing the “Québécois” as a nation can be included in the Canadian Constitution!

I didn’t support this when Ignatieff proposed it (too divisive and not what we should be focusing on now), but this is even worse, at least Ignatieff was proposing to recognize Aboriginals at the same time, I seriously doubt Harper would do that.

But my main gripe here is that Ignatieff got hell over this proposal in the English media for weeks with countless editorials slamming it and saying the Liberals would doom themselves if they followed it.

Now when Harper proposes the exact same thing the only English journalist we hear from about this is the French (France) columnist from Macleans?And people say we have a “Liberal media” in Canada?"

So it seems the English language media is now finally starting to pay attention, but what I said over 3 months I think still applies equally as well. I would be extremely surprised to see the kinds of condemnatory editorials written about this topic when Ignatieff proposed it be written in reference to Harper's proposal. At the least, if Harper is criticized at all for this, the criticisms will be quite toned down from what Igantieff received because Harper essentially has the media his in pocket these days (I bet this week both James Travers and Chantal Hebert pen columns this week praising this latest gambit as "genius").

As it to why this is being raised again, I would guess it's another attempt by Harper to sow divisions amongst the Liberals and try to get them divided over this issue, while also trying to put them on the defensive in Quebec. However, I think Liberals can come to a consensus that we can't ignore the concerns of Quebecers by any means but that solutions can be found OUTSIDE the constitution and I think that view would be supported by a large majority of Canadians (and even a good chunk of federalists who remember how Meech and Charlottetown ultimately bolstered the separatist forces).

As well, I think we can't forget about Aboriginals here, why recognize Quebecers and not Aboriginals? Let Stephen Harper answer that question (I imaigne no one in the media will ask him though).

Also Harper should be asked, what 7 Premiers (governing provinces making up at least 50% of the population) will he be getting to support this? Would they even come to the table? If not, what's the point of this grandstanding? Because after all, I think that's all this is: Harper promising something he will never deliver - anything to try to get his majority (I hope in the end enough Quebecers will see through this).

That said, as I have indicated before, I think going back into constitutional discussions will be extremely divisive across the country and will almost certainly end up where we were the last time this was tried: negotiations collapsing and the country being more divided and Quebecers more angry at the rest of the country than they were before. So I hope Liberals aren't tempted to support Harper's latest proposal.

I just hope the media can do their job on this and be as critical as they should be of this.

Back to the books....

UPDATE: It seems Harper's ministers are contradicting each other now, so maybe the glowing revivews from Travers and Hebert will be put on hold.

However, this does mean that Harper should be asked pointed questions on exactly where his government stands. He can't get away with having one minister promise something and having another say "oh, maybe later". Harper himself has said he wants Quebec's demands recognized in the constitution so he needs to make his position clear one and for all and not be allowed to play all sides on this issue.

And while they are at it, why not ask Harper what Rona Ambrose is up to these days as the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister? As BC'er points out it seems she's been pretty busy on this portfolio of late.

Again I hope the media does its job here....

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