In an open letter to Quebec newspapers last week, Dion expanded on those points. He described himself as a strong champion of provincial autonomy, a solid defender of the Quebec language laws and an early supporter of the concept of the Quebec nation. He also wrote that the social union he negotiated in 1996 gave the provinces even more leeway than Harper's throne speech promise to curb the federal spending power.
Those assertions are factually correct. But Dion's increasing insistence on his Quebec-friendly credentials is also at odds with the best-laid plans of some of his election strategists.
Trudeau's positions are closer to the federal Liberal mainstream than Dion's. Trudeau is also more in synch with the party's star candidates in Ontario than his leader.
Gerard Kennedy, the former rival to whom Dion owes his leadership victory, fought the concept of the Quebec nation last year. And in a recent letter to the editor, Bob Rae forcefully laid out a Liberal rationale for equating Harper's open federalism with an unprecedented bid to neuter future federal governments.
Dion's current attempts to make himself more palatable in Quebec go against the ideological grain of the very group that brought him to a leadership victory last year; in many Liberal minds, they also run counter to the party's larger electoral interests.
What I find entirely disappointing about Hebert's premise, she seems to take Stephen Harper at face value. Hebert correctly points out that Kennedy was against the nation resolution, but that doesn't extrapolate to opposing Quebec's aspirations. In fact, if memory serves, Kennedy was against the Harper government's poorly thought out, kneejerk, ambigious resolution:
The motion provides "official recognition to the idea of nation without defining it and that is irresponsible," Kennedy said at a press conference on Monday.
"It puts that official concept in the hands of the people who would use it for things that are frankly at odds with what most Canadians believe in," he said.
Kennedy said he felt obligated to voice his opinion.
"It's a wedge for future politics by Mr. Harper," Kennedy said hours before the vote, introduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week, passed in the Commons.
"This is not a small thing -- this is about the identity of the country. It should not be played games with and I will not go along with that."
Part of the problem with Harper's "irresponsible" motion is that the notion of a "nation" is not defined, Kennedy said.
"How will it inform our challenge to bring this country together when there are four or five interpretations possible?" he said.
"This puts us into word-smithing, into semantics, and it puts us into games playing that I think has harmed this country in the past and should not be part of a future.''
Hebert assumes that arguing against Harper's charm offensive in Quebec is the equivalent of anti-Quebec sentiment. Hebert makes the same miscalculation, as it relates to Rae and his defence of federalism, compared to the Harper view. Again, my memory might be sketchy, but Bob Rae has always been a strong defender of Quebec and his record is quite clear.
It would seem, that the new measuring stick in Quebec is whether or not one agrees with Stephen Harper's view of the world. The fact that Hebert uses resistence to Harper's agenda as evidence of tensions seems a strange benchmark. It is simply intellectually dishonest to label someone, based on their opposition to Harper. You want to judge someone like Rae based on real initiatives, like Meech Lake, fairgame, but to frame someone because of a reaction to a vote grab, is pure and utter crap. Stephen Harper and his policies, the new benchmark in Quebec, lord help us.