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Index for my Toronto Budget 2004 project
Liberal Separatists
06/04/2004

Paul Martin and his "Quebec lieutenant" have welcomed -- probably appointed, but I'm not sure -- seven other separatists to run for the Liberal Party in the next election. As a result, former Chretien advisor, and current blogger, Warren Kinsella says he can't vote Liberal this time around (April 4 and April 5).

Here's what he wrote:

Albertan though I was, I was drawn to the Liberal Party because I believed (as I do now) that only a strong central government could serve as an effective bulwark against Québec nationalism. Back then, only Mr. Trudeau's party possessed the necessary fortitude and conviction to confront Québécois secessionists, I thought.

The xenophobia manifesting itself in the burgeoning Western separatist movement also nudged me towards the Liberals. At the time, legitimate concerns about the National Energy Program were degenerating into a morass of anti-French, anti-immigrant, anti-Eastern bigotry. Among the nation's political leaders, only Mr. Trudeau's seemed capable of making the case for federalism. As had been the case before him, with Mike Pearson - and after Pierre Trudeau, with Jean Chrétien.

That Liberal Party - the Liberal Party of Pearson, and Trudeau, and Chrétien - is effectively gone, at least for now. A few weeks ago, one of the current leader's campaign co-chairs was reported to have told the Liberal caucus that elements of the party's record were "ripe for slaughter," quote unquote, and that "some of the Chrétien legacy items will be taken out to the village square and shot." Little did I know, then, that the party's commitment to a strong, united Canada was also slated for execution.

I happen to agree, although I haven't yet ruled out voting for the Liberals... or any party, actually.

In my view, the status of the Québec-ROC relationship had never been better than these past few years, post-Clarity Act. I felt that a stable situation had been reached that was satisfactory to many Québécois and many in the rest of the country. But, to replace Stéphane Dion with a founder of the Bloc Québécois seemed inexplicable to me, and it is exactly what Paul Martin has done.

Martin, actually, seems to be repeating the mistakes of Brian Mulroney. I imagine that he thinks this may be a more pragmatic way to create satisfaction among Québécois -- and build an alliance for himself of non-Chretienites/Trudeauphiles. But the post-1995 history suggests that this resurrected Mulroney approach is an idea better suited to the history books.

I don't know what Martin's problem is. Has he not changed his thinking since the first time he ran for the Liberal leadership? Or did his years dreaming of taking over as Prime Minister make him too eager to try to please every possible ally?


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