Saturday, December 17, 2005

Paul Martin's Sovereigntist Thinking

Last night I decided to work on some personal projects, instead of watching the debates. Based on the news reactions and subsequent coverage, I gather I didn't miss much.

However, I was struck by Paul Martin's attempt to defend Canadian integrity in front of BQ leader Gilles Duceppe. While it might have been passionate, it shows everything that's wrong with the current Liberal line on Canada-Quebec relations.

Here's what Martin said:
Let me say also that I am a Quebecer, and you are not going to take my country away from me with some trick, with some ambiguous question ... This is my country and my children were born and raised in Quebec, and you're not going to go to them and say that you're going to find some backdoor way of taking my country or dividing Quebec family against Quebec family.

We do have an opportunity, and Quebecers understand this, to build a country which is without parallel, and if you take a look at the way that Canada is measuring up in terms of our economy, in terms of the strength of our social programs, in terms of our independent foreign policy, I believe that we do appeal to the deep attachment, the deep love of this country that Quebecers have and you're not going to win, Mr. Duceppe. Let me tell you that.
A defence of Canada that mentions Quebec five times -- and Canada only once. And furthermore, Canada is only mentioned near the end of his defence.

What I find irritating about this line is that in trying to speak to Duceppe as a fellow Quebecer, Martin has in effect ignored his identity as a Canadian. Martin's statement falls into the mindset that Quebec sovereignty is to be decided by Quebeckers alone, a mindset not shared by most federalists.

So what would have been a better line to take? A line that would have rendered Gilles Duceppe speechless, or at least sputtering. A line that would have began as:

"Mr. Duceppe. You are Canadian. I will not let you destroy your country with with some trick, with some ambiguous question. Your children were born Canadian and raised as Canadians, whether you want to admit it or not. For the virtues of Quebec are the virtues of Canada and can be found in all Canadians. Are you going to tell your children that their neighbors are no longer neighbors?"

The best way to deal with the sovereignty question, at this stage of the game, is to introduce a completely new mindset. That's something that Paul Martin can't learn in six weeks.