Friday, November 10, 2006

Where are all the federalists?

Yesterday, Michael Ignatieff had an essay in the Globe and Mail (Google backdoor) that confirmed his Quebec-as-nation position. This position has been criticized in many places, including a letter to the Globe's editor today from Ramsay Cook:

Is Michael Ignatieff confused or obfuscating? He says Quebeckers form a nation "with a language, history, culture and territory that marks them out as a separate people." That describes an "ethnic nation" to which only the majority of Quebeckers belong. Cree, Inuit, allophones and anglophones have different languages, cultures and, to some extent, histories. And "territory" has its problems.

But Mr. Ignatieff insists that "Quebec is a civic nation, not an ethnic nation." What about his phrase "blood and belonging," which supposedly differentiated ethnic (language, culture, history) from civic (common civic values) nations? There are many more alligators in this swamp where Mr. Ignatieff wants to lead us.

Meanwhile, Stephen Harper proposes to amend the constitution to prevent the federal government from intervening on provincial issues such as health, education, etc.. A commenter on Andrew Coyne's blog explains...

I've just been reading Paul Wells' new book (Right Side Up) and so am reminded of Harper's Alberta "firewall" history. This new move makes me wonder if he isn't well aware how he might be pushing our federation into a more devolved association of provinces more like the model of American states.

The funny thing about walls, even firewalls, is that they can be constructed from either side of it. Perhaps Harper has more in common with the BQ than we had thought. Run for federal office even though you don't really believe in federalism because dismantling the system from within is easier to do.

Of course, the NDP is no real friend of a federalist position given Jack Layton's attack on the Clarity Act. So... what choices do real federalists have?


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