Wednesday, April 02, 2008

They really aren't all that smart, are they?

Perhaps the insatiable lust for power is dulling the minds in the Mulroney Harper government.
The Harper government is telling Quebec that if the Conservatives win a majority in the next election, they will look to reopen the Constitution and give more meaning to their recognition of Quebeckers as a nation.

Emphasizing the Conservative receptiveness to “Quebec's historical demands,” Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn raised the possibility of winning 30 to 40 seats in the province, up from the current 11.

“The recognition of the Quebec nation within Canada allows us to think that we can put some meat around it, and that a majority government is more able to do a number of things, while being respectful of all of the provinces,” Mr. Blackburn said in an interview.

The whole of which is an insult to Quebec voters.

First was Meech Lake, an exercise which did more to split the country than heal any part of it. Along with that abysmal failure came a strong warning: Canadians should never again trust a government which attempts constitutional amendments without going to referendum. But Mulroney, now generally considered an arrogant ass in most of Canada, couldn't leave well enough alone and tried it all over again. This time it went to referendum.

The results of the vote on the Charlottetown Accord spoke volumes. The highest voter turnouts were in Quebec and British Columbia, well exceeding the national average. Quebec rejected the accord by almost seven percent. BC however, issued the strongest statement with 68.3 percent voting NO, over eight percent higher than the results in Alberta.

Two other things emerged during the Mulroney attempts to alter the Constitution.

The Reform Party, which opposed both accords, engaged in a campaign which slagged the idea of Quebec having recognition as a distinct society. That was with Preston Manning in charge, who was actually willing to take a moderate stand. The real hardliner in the Reform Party was its policy chief: Stephen Harper, who felt that Manning was not expressing virulent enough opposition and was being too accommodating to Quebec.

The other item which emerged was the agonizing process of constitutional reform itself. At the end of each attempt the country was left riven. Canadians were now aware of the damage left behind by the acrimonious tone of the debates and the polarization of voters. Mulroney had gone so far as to state publicly that those who voted NO on the Charlottetown Accord were "enemies of Canada". Canadians, now armed with the experience of both constitutional amending processes, would not accept a gut-wrenching national internal squabble like that again unless there was a damned good reason.

That brings us back to the current insult to Quebec voters.

The Harperites are only suggesting this in an attempt to wrest seats out of Quebec and gain a majority in the next election. Unless they've gone completely brain-dead, the Conservatives know that they will never, ever get away with it. Thus, despite Blackburn's suggestions, we know it won't happen.

Quebec voters know that too. So to hold out the suggestion is nothing less than suggesting that Quebec voters are stupid.

Impolitical goes further and asks why Harper would even consider stirring up the separatist argument now when it is relatively dormant.

James Curran points out that such activity by Conservatives usually ends up with them being tossed off the edge of the political cliff. So, I agree with him. Let the Harperites fly with this one. It will give Mulroney and Harper one more thing in common - boot marks on their asses.

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