Sunday, May 07, 2006

Building Up A Constitutional Lather

Under the circumstances, talk like this scares me:
The leader of Quebec's third largest political party says it's time to launch a new round of constitutional negotiations with the federal government much like Rene Levesque's "beau risque" some 20 years ago.

"It's our responsibility to respond to Ottawa's extended hand by proposing a new 'beau risque,' the risk of autonomy," Mario Dumont, leader of the Action democratique du Quebec, told 300 delegates Sunday at a general assembly meeting.

Don't get me wrong, I think Canada desperately needs to re-open the constitutional can of worms if it has any real future. What frightens me is the man at the federal helm makes decisions based on political calculations, not the "greater good". Since the election, there is defintely more "buzz" about the constitution. Harper has waded into the fray with several statements that suggest he would be open to re-working federalism. I think it a highly dangerous circumstance to have a federal leader who essentially approaches federalism with a Premier's regional perspective. Stephen Harper has made it clear that his agenda is a means to facilate his shortterm needs. I don't see anything that suggests an overriding vision or longterm perspective. In fact, you could argue there is no philosophy, unless of course the pursuit of power is a tenet.

The fact that people are now openly musing about re-opening the constitution raises the stakes on this government. Obviously, nothing substantial will happen during a minority situation, and I doubt the issue will gain much traction next election. The danger lies in Harper attaining unchecked power and wanting to make his mark politically. It's all opinion of course, and conservatives would argue that this is all "boogeyman" talk, but if you take Harper words in the past it suggests a recipe for regionalism, while the nation withers. I don't want a Prime Minister who thinks we need "firewalls" around provinces to keep out the feds. This man is supposed to be the feds, not the eleventh Premier- that's how Canada maintains the balance. I get this strange feeling that Canada can't afford a long Harper reign.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Whether Canada ends up with one national government or two governments or 10 governments, the Canadian people will require less government no matter what the constitutional status or arrangement of any future country may be."

- Stephen Harper in a 1994 National Citizens Coalition speech.

Anonymous said...

This guy is the leader of an opposition party - his musings are about as ridiculous as Layton's.

They can say whatever they want - they will never get elected.

He wants to undo the damage to Quebec he claims caused by Trudeau's monkeying around with the constitution to "strengthen" Quebec in the Federation.

So what he is musing about is not "scarey" - just not neccesary.

Can you not recognize propaganda when you see it? We do it better than most.

Steve V said...

craig

Taken in isolation, you can dismiss Dumont's opinion. However, I don't think there is any question that there seems to be a new mood, wherein discussing the constitution is no longer taboo. With Harper's overtures to Quebec, it is natural to see the progression to more formalized discussions. I read Dumont as simply recognizing the climate, I could care less about what he thinks of Trudeau.

Simon Pole said...

I have to agree that Dumont's comments have to be taken with a grain of salt. I believe he isn't much of a force as he once was, with his party shrunk to support around Quebec City.

Steve V said...

simon

Point taken. I might be overly-sensitive here, but the mere mention of the word constitution with Harper at the helm worries me greatly.

Steve V said...

As an aside, Dumont's statements were the top domestic story on CTV News earlier.

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