Ignatieff is taking alot of heat for his willingness to re-open constitutional talks. I'm not sure I agree with Ignatieff's opinions on substance, but I do applaud the desire. Bob Rae and Stephane Dion both bring ample experience on constitutional matters, but their positions are essentially copouts. Dion cited Switzerland to argue you don't need full constitutional participation for a country to operate. Rae argued that it's just too hard to bring all the parties together and simply not worth the risk. What both men fail to acknowledge, working around the margins and avoiding the elephant in the room isn't a solution.
Avoidance allows a constant smoldering, that is equally as dangerous as attempting to deal with the problem, once and for all. Allowing Quebec to drift outside of the constitution guarantees perpetual uncertainty. The risks that surround re-opening constitutional talks are real, but the opposite view is equally problematic. I would view the next round of constitutional talks as the moment of truth, either there is some agreement or we accept the reality that sovereignty may be the best option- for both sides. The rest of Canada is held hostage, the federation operates on pins and needles, honest debate is stifled to appease and the whole thing is woefully dysfunctional. Bring the issue to a head, and come to a definitive conclusion, one way or the other.
I would argue that conditions have changed since the last round of talks. The language that is acceptable now is far more progressive than what was debated in Meech or Charlottetown. Distinct society is pretty much a given term, and the idea of "nation" gains increasing acceptance. The discussion has moved forward, maybe the constitution is ready to accept the rhetoric. The situation now has devolved into a federalist argument that is largely based on fears and checks to stifle independence, because there is no real policy to defend. The Bloc is now a permanent fixture in our Parliament and will remain as long as malaise is king. Canada is drifting apart as we sit idly by, why not be proactive and see if we can salvage the federation.
I'm prepared to accept the risk of opening up the constitution, primarily because I don't think we have a choice. Politicans can argue about practical measures to strenghten the federation that don't involve the constitution, but again I don't see at as a real substitute, merely plugging holes on a sinking boat. Of course it's "hard", of course it's "risky" and it could very well fail given the precedents. However, choosing to ignore just fuels the elements that want to divide Canada. I see the re-opening of talks as a moral necessity, not an option, if the goal is a healthy federation moving forward. To use a crude reference, it's time to shit or get off the pot. Do nothing, and you reach the dreaded condition anyways, it's just a more tortured and gentle slope.