Although his new platform states that Quebec should be recognized as a "nation," as should aboriginal nations, in a Canada that is a "multinational state," Mr. Ignatieff made it clear that he believes Ottawa's power cannot be eroded.
"What you see is that Quebec has all the powers necessary to make its society flourish and grow," he said…
"I think we have to have an honest dialogue with Quebecers. I think it's important to have a federalism of recognition and respect. Recognition of what is specific to the Quebec people. I speak for all of those who say that Quebec is my nation but Canada is my country…"
". . . If the federal government transfers further fiscal power to the provinces, the capacity of the national government to promote and sustain the equality of citizenship will be damaged," his platform states.
Instead of the Harper appeasement, Ignatieff puts principle above political expediency. On the surface, Ignatieff’s view is risky, in that it could alienate soft nationalists in Quebec. However, if you look beyond the headline, Ignatieff shows great respect for Quebecers, while at the same time arguing for the larger nation. I like the balance and you have to appreciate the honesty on a subject that is full of potential landmines.
The role of the Prime Minister is to provide the federalist check to the natural regional aspirations of the Premiers. Ignatieff seems to understand his constitutional responsibility in a way that doesn’t try to pacify, which isn’t easy given the current climate. Say what you will about Ignatieff, the man expresses his views in unedited fashion, which is a refreshing break from the usual political rhetoric.