Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Harper Carries Iggy's Water

Harper gives Ignatieff cover:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday that the federal Conservative government will introduce a motion recognizing that Quebecers constitute a nation within a united Canada.
"Do Quebecers form a nation within a united Canada? The answer is yes. Do the Quebecois for an independent nation? The answer is no, and will always be no," Harper said.
"The Bloc Quebecois has asked us to define that, and perhaps that's a good thing, because it reminds us all Canadians have a stake in the future of this country."

All the rancor about the resolution at the leadership convention and Harper effectively bails out the Liberals by wading into the controversy and supporting the resolution. Ignatieff looks less the reckless rookie, and now seems entirely mainstream. Interesting development to say the least.


The Ignatieff angle:

Supporters of leadership front-runner Michael Ignatieff, the only contender to wholeheartedly endorse the Liberal resolution on Quebec nationhood, were jubilant, privately claiming Harper's move vindicates Ignatieff and guarantees he'll win the party crown.

Ignatieff has been hammered by his rivals, who've accused him of playing into separatist hands and leading the country down the path to another round of divisive constitutional wrangling.

Ignatieff himself took credit for getting the ball rolling on recognition of Quebec as a nation.

"I think it's a good day for Canada. That is to say, I'm proud of the way in which the Liberal party and my candidacy listened to Quebec," he said.

Harper's proposal also won the approval of Stephane Dion, the lone Quebec contender who has fiercely criticized the Liberal approach on the issue. He said Harper's motion is "very close" to a compromise he's been floating among Liberal leadership candidates.

Observers say that Harper's motion could actually help Ignatieff out, but the leadership contender said he doubted the prime minister had him in mind when the proposal was changed.

He said he saluted what the prime minister did but added that he's "sure Mr. Harper is not in the business of throwing me any life jackets at all. We are political adversaries, we will always be political adversaries," he said after Harper spoke.


Anonymous said...

A brilliant ploy to raise His Quebec fortunes and elevate his much-hoped-for ignatieff candidacy all in one move...

CuriosityCat said...

On the contrary, wait for Harper's new Tories to drop in the polls once the rest of the country understands what Harper is proposing .....

Karen said...

I sincerely doubt this will raise his fortunes in Quebec. It will solidify Ignatieff's though.

cat, aside from what Harper has said, what do you suggest he is proposing? I would agree though, I think he'll lose some of his base in the rest of Canada.

Steve:Ignatieff looks less the reckless rookie, and now seems entirely mainstream.

What a difference a day makes. Interesting to be sure.

Steve V said...

I don't really see how Harper drops because of this statement, given that the opposition supported it.

Ignatieff was quick to comment:

"It's a good day for Canada," Ignatieff told reporters in Parliament. "I salute what the prime minister did today because it re-emphasized that Quebec's future is in Canada."

A good day indeed, for a campaign in desperate need of legitimacy.

Anonymous said...

How is this new? Harper has stated the obvious, Quebecers are and have been a nation within Canada, just as Ukranians are a nation within Canada, as are the First Nations and any number of ethno-cultural groups that make up our citizenry. It is NOT as if he has recognised QUEBEC as a nation. The real surprise in this is that Harper is showing support for Multiculturalism.

Karen said...

Steve, I think english Canada, specifically out west, (his supporters), will see this as caving.

This issue is so devisive, I think to the point that no one really bothers to look at what is really being said. They take a stance, often without thought, (spew the party line), and don't listen. This, I think will be viewed by some as "giving those Quebeckers special status".

If Paul Wells thinks that Harper compromised, you have to know, there will be back lash on this.

Steve V said...


It's not really earth shattering news on a practical level, but in the game of semantics it's certainly noteworthy.


I guess the point, where do the disgruntled Tories go? All the other parties are on board, so it would appear to be a wash. Also, there could be a nugget here for the hardcore Reformers that support anything that has the potential to de-centralize the federation.

Karen said...

Steve, I don't think they go anywhere, but I'm not sure they could support Harper.

The Reformer thought is interesting.

Anonymous said...

Straw poll around the dinner table (one separatist, one nationalist, one old school Dief-era conservative: not a liberal in sight; oh, and me).
Result: Harper's statement means nothing other than that he wants to repair some of the damage he's suffered here in Québec. All felt that he had too clearly shown his true colours on 'those other issues' to be able to reconnect with the voters here.
By the same token, while Dion is primarily remembered - negatively - as the architect of plan B, Rae and Ignatieff are seen positively not because of their stand on Québec but because they offer a clear alternative to both the old Liberals and the New Reformers.

Steve V said...

hey lept

Thanks for the insider perspective. I thought Quebecers loved Dion now ;)

Lept said...

Last Saturday's 'La Press' had a whole section on Dion:
many words on the mutually exclusive views of him as the nice Unity Minister (Canada) vs the bad Monsieur Plan B (Québec) - also making it clear that his greatest potential for growth is amongst those few here who can still remember voting Liberal...
while many of us are desperate to replace Harper, we will continue to vote for the Bloc unless the Liberals can show a real change and viable alternative.

Anonymous said...

By this time next week Harper will not be looking so good. Remember, the politicians in Ottawa supported Harper's resolution. The people sank Meech and Charlottetown because they did not like them.
The Sun editorials out west are the beginning of the backlash. Read the virulent comments on smalldeadanimals for the really ugly reaction. Wait until questions are raised and not answered, such as: What does nation really mean? Where does it lead to? What about Canada as a nation? What about other nations?

This Pandora's Box is still just recently opened by Ignatieff, and still far from shut...

Some things are best left alone, like sleeping bears, and constitutional change...

Anonymous said...

As I'm sure you are now aware, the Harper motion is actually the Harper/Graham/Layton/Dion motion.

Ignatieff has nothing to do with it. He was not consulted.

Steve V said...

"Ignatieff has nothing to do with it. He was not consulted."

And where exactly was this suggested?? There is a general consensus emerging that Ignatieff benefits the most from this motion, and that just seem like common sense.


I don't dispute a possible backlash, but where exactly will the disgruntled turn?