Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Square Heads

David Olive is right. Michael Ignatieff does not understand Canada. Certainly his conclusion that Quebec independence is inevitable must have Pierre Trudeau hurling curses at him from beyond the grave. On the other hand, it's hard to disagree with Jeffrey Simpson's conclusion that, "not since the first Diefenbaker government of 1957 has a federal government been weaker in Quebec and apparently cared so little about the province."

It was, after all, Diefenbaker's insouciance towards Quebec which radicalized Rene Levesque and gave birth to the Parti Quebecois. Simpson goes on to detail what amounts to the Harper government's collective stupor on the subject of Quebec:

For most Quebeckers, the Harperites seem determinedly disdainful of their preferences. Almost every position or policy adopted by the Conservatives drives the party base wild with excitement outside Quebec, but drives Quebeckers further from the Conservatives.

The “tough on crime” policies, for instance, are reviled in Quebec, not because Quebeckers want to mollycoddle criminals but because most citizens believe in rehabilitation and attacking the social and economic causes of crime.

The long-gun registry came about after the 1989 massacre at Montreal’s École Polytechnque. That horror imprinted itself in the population’s consciousness. Quebec has as many hunters as any other province, but the ideology around gun ownership that drives the Conservative base wild with fury over the registry finds scant echo in Quebec.

The Harperites’ affection for the British monarchy and its toy-soldier plans to celebrate the obscure War of 1812 leave Quebeckers totally indifferent and remind them of what a strange lot are the Conservatives, who used to be thought of as the Protestant/British party for decades, and appear to be so again.

If Pierre Trudeau is cursing Michael Ignatieff from beyond the grave, then surely Rene Levesque is hurling similar barbs at Stephen Harper. Trudeau and Levesque -- who didn't agree on much -- would undoubtedly agree that Ignatieff and Harper are "tetes carres."


Anonymous said...

I don't blame any province, for wanting to separate from Harper. Quebec has told Harper to go to hell, over Harper's asinine crime bill. Good for Quebec.

I most certainly wish BC could separate, from Harper's fascist, tyrannical, dictatorship regime. Harper has his henchman, Boessenkool, in BC, working for the BC Liberals.

Harper rewarded his favorite henchman, Gordon Campbell, the post of High Commissioner to England. Campbell has the worst, most corrupt and foul, political record, in the recorded history of Canada.

Harper is a Neo-Nazi Reformer, of his Northern Foundation Party from 1989. The skinheads organized Harper's Fascist party for him. However, Canadians have slept through this, and now it's too late.

Fadden of CSIS warned of, China's great inroads into Canada, he was exactly right.

Owen Gray said...

Stephen Harper has succeeded in driving wedges between Canadians, not uniting them.

That tactic has served Harper well. But it has not served the country well.

Kirbycairo said...

I really think that Ignatieff is receiving a great deal too much bad press than he really deserves. He holds no public office, he is an important intellectual who is obviously exceptionally bright, and he was musing the way intellectuals do when speaking about such things. Now, I disagree with him in as much as nothing at all is inevitable. But like any complex intellectual, I am sure that he fluctuates between believing two opposing possible outcomes. However, there was nothing inherently offensive in what he said, even if one doesn't agree with it. And it is hyperbole to suggest that the former PM is turning in his grave. Mr. Trudeau was, if nothing else, an intelligent and sophisticated man, and to think that he would be horrified by the considered opinion of a fellow intellectual seems naive. Furthermore, the kinds of opinions I have heard from a number of bloggers these thoughts somehow demonstrate that he would have made a poor Prime Minister, are patently absurd and a sign that we have begun to be adverse to genuine political discourse. I disagree with Mr. Ignatieff on many, many issues, but I refuse to denigrate genuine discourse as many seem to be doing.

e.a.f. said...

Iggy maybe correct. Quebec independance has only been on the radar for 50/60 yrs. We do not know what the future holds. I don't know if Quebec will seperate & neither does anyone else but Iggy was correct in saying it is their destiny/inevitable.

I don't know why everybody got so excited about his comments. Well maybe the neo cons so they could take a wack at Bob Rae or distract the voters from them & their illegal actions.

At least if Quebec seperates Harper won't be able to sell them to China or whomever comes with a cheque. B.C. might want to think about seperating if it keeps the pipelines & tankers out of here.

Owen Gray said...

Iggy is certainly not the first to say such things. Thirty-five years ago, I sat in a Canadian history class at the University of Manitoba. Gordon Rothney -- a man who I greatly admired and respected -- said much the same thing.

Rothney argued that, as the influence of the United States changed the Canadian axis from east-west to north-south, Canada's traditional ties would loosen and Quebec would eventually go its own way.

When I consider Stephen Harper's politics and policies, I wonder if Rothney was right.

However, people have been making the same prediction since before Confederation -- and we're still here.

Owen Gray said...

I don't think Trudeau would be horrified at Ignatieff's comments, Kirby. But I do think that he would greet them with scorn -- as he did the Meech Lake Accord.

And he would point out -- as David Olive does -- that what Ignatieff sees as Quebec's perogatives -- healthcare, natural resources-- etc. are the perogatives of the other provinces under the B.N.A. Act.

Ignatieff failed -- in Quebec and otherwise -- because Canadians believed he really didn't understand them.

In many ways, it was a question of tone. But, on the other hand, he did support the American invasion of Iraq -- along with Stephen Harper. It is one of the great ironies of Canadian politics that Harper is prime minister and Michael Ignatieff isn't.

And Trudeau, like you, would maintain that nothing is inevitable. He'd point to the pollsters who predicted a Wildrose victory in Alberta.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I am not sure what is going on in Quebec these days. The Bloc and the Conservatives are in decline.
For some reason Quebec has embrassed the NDP, even beyond the level of the last election. You can read about the last polls here (recent history might make one cautious of believing polls) It might be time to form a provincial NDP party. I just hope the NDP can be worthy of the support of the Quebecois.

The generation which was strong for separation may have passed from the scene. The younger generation seems to see real advantages to being part of Canada.

Owen Gray said...

As I kid growing up in Quebec, Philip, I always had the impression that Quebec nationalism would never die.

I still think that's true. But, as Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Jack Layton proved, if federal politicians convince Quebecers that they understand what Quebec is all about, they will back federalist parties.