Monday, April 23, 2012

The Liberal Party and the role of Quebec in Canada: Bob Rae's Views


With the possibility that Bob Rae will soon step down as interim leader of the LPC and so trigger the beginning of the race to select the next permanent leader some time towards the end of this year and early next year, we will find the candidates stumping for support.

One of the major points we as members of the Liberal Party of Canada deserve to have debated in open and detailed discussions by all the candidates, is the fate of the LPC in Quebec.
Bob Rae

What exactly should the policies of the LPC be with regard to the motion passed in our Parliament recongnizing the Quebecois as a nation within Canada, and what should those policies say about the prospect of accomodating such national aspirations through changes in the way in which the federal and provincial governments work together?

Is there a place for meaningful, constructive asymmetry in the treatment of Quebec by a Liberal Party majority government?

In an earlier post, I quoted Bob Rae on the issue of the secession of Quebec from Canada with a 50% plus 1 vote.


Now, as regards asymmetry, let me quote some writings by Bob Rae to kick off the discussions.

In his book From Protest to Power: Personal Reflections on a Life in Politics, Bob Rae wrote this regarding what leadership entails:

Leadership sometimes means telling people things they don't want to hear.

Liberal Party members and Supporters can expect that during the coming campaign for permanent leadership of our party, Rae will display this kind of leadership when it comes to discussions of his views about pre-election electoral cooperation with the NDP and Green Party, and the possible terms of post-election coalition government with the NDP.

In that book, Rae also wrote about the role of Quebec:

If we don't recognize Quebec as a distinct society within Canada, Quebec will insist on being treated as a distinct society outside Canada.  We must make the structure of a new Confederation generouos and flexible enough to include all the partners, all the regions of the country, and all the people of Canada.

The proposal to recognize Quebec as a distinct society did not muster support of enough voters in Canada to pass the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords.

However, since then the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, the NDP and the Green Party have all passed the motion that the Quebecois are a nation.

In his book The Three Questions, Rae wrote that the federation of Canada was indeed flexible:

Those who argue that Canada is made up of ten provinces which must be treated the same in a kind of  cookie-cutter approach of total equality are arguing this in defiance of Canadian history...

He went on:

A more regionalized and decentralized Canada is a growing reality, but so is the need for co-operation.

And then he posed this question:

Is an accomodation with Quebec nationalism possible within the Canadian federation, or is it a silly delusion to think that some middle ground exists between Mr. Trudeau's awful symmetry and separation?

I look forward to Bob Rae fleshing out his concept of the role of Quebec in Canada, and the views and policy proposals of the other candidates seeking to become the next leader of our party.
Let the debates begin.

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