Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Manifesto in defence of liberalism and federalism in Quebec

A manifesto in defence of liberalism and federalism in Quebec
Globe and Mail web-exclusive commentary
October 11

The following comes from grassroots liberals and federalists for the promotion of liberal and federalist values in Quebec:

The current political situation is of grave concern to Quebeckers who share liberal and federalist values. The resounding defeat of the federal Liberal Party in the Sept. 17 by-elections and the Quebec Liberal Party's relegation to the bottom of the polls demonstrates not only that these parties are politically weak, but that the very existence of political liberalism and a resolutely federalist vision are threatened in the province.

As federalists and full-fledged Quebeckers, liberals (both independent and card-carrying) refuse to be defeated by this state of affairs; we are determined to overcome it. We take this position because of our attachment to liberalism — a political ideal based on the primacy of individual freedom; on peaceful and democratic changes in political, social and economic institutions; and on commitment to the protection of personal rights and civil liberties.

A liberal strain certainly runs through Quebec society. This movement has fought for modern ideas, social progress and economic development. It has relentlessly upheld the rights and freedoms of every individual. It has courageously promoted a spirit of tolerance, understanding and openness to the entire world, as well as Quebeckers' active participation in the building of Canada. The champions of the liberal cause have always distinguished themselves by their constructive spirit, their creative audacity, their tenacious defence of free thought and speech, their ceaseless concern for social equity. And among the most dearly held liberal beliefs is that each member of society must have access to opportunities essential to his or her fulfilment as an individual.

In contrast to ideologues who were focused on the past and insisted on isolating Quebec from the rest of the world, the liberal movement fashioned Quebec's modern identity. To Lionel Groulx's doleful cry of Notre maître le passé (Our master, the past), the liberal tendency responded with a resonant Notre maître l'avenir (Our master, the future) — an ideal proclaimed in 1944 by Liberal premier Adélard Godbout, the man who founded Hydro-Quebec, recognized women's voting rights and was the architect of free and mandatory education in the province.
Steadfastly devoted to the promotion of the French language and culture, the liberal tendency identifies with (and has always identified with) the words of the great liberal thinker and eminent forerunner of the Quiet Revolution, Jean-Charles Harvey: "French has a chance of survival only if it becomes the synonym of audacity, culture, civilization and liberty." Quebec's liberals cling to this idea more than ever at the turn of a 21st century characterized by globalization. In no way do we fear for the survival of Quebec's linguistic identity or culture.

Unlike those who constantly sound alarms about the so-called anglophone or immigrant menace, we fully trust that Quebeckers have the capacity to take their language and culture into the future.

The issues that now concern the planet concern us too. Liberalism embraces multilateralism. Great figures such as Lester Pearson and Lloyd Axworthy have forged Canada's formidable reputation in the world and advanced causes we hold dear, such as human security.
The liberal movement is alive and well in Quebec. We are proud to be part of it. Many of our fellow citizens share these ideals and values, but the precarious situation of liberal-minded parties threatens to weaken the voice of political liberalism — a voice that has contributed so much to the creation of modern Quebec, that has proclaimed ideals and values worth defending now more than ever.

This is why we are asking all Quebec's liberals to reassert their vision with boldness and self-confidence. Let us remain firmly committed to our convictions and ideas, but in doing so, let us always be open to adapting them to the challenges of today and tomorrow. So, let's roll up our sleeves! As our predecessors have proven throughout history, abdication in the face of difficulty and adversity is not a liberal trait. We pledge to keep that very same spirit alive, for the movement must strengthen its capacity to build a confident Quebec, one that can take its proper place in Canada and the rest of the world.

More than 350 Quebeckers have signed on to this manifesto, including: Jennifer Crane, public-affairs consultant, Pointe-Claire; Mary Damianakis, professional mediator, Baie d'Urfé; Stéphane Desjardins, pulp and paper worker, St-Jérôme; Jean-Pierre Dufault, agricultural worker, Brôme; Nathalie Goguen, journalist, Waterville; Catherine Grégoire, student, Quebec City, Daniel Laprès, freelance writer, Montréal; Philippe Legault, student, Laval; David Simard, master's student in political science (UQAM), Montréal; and Francis Tourigny, lawyer, Montréal.

If you doubt that now is a time for rallying, take a look at this article from the same Globe. It may be fortunate for us that Gilles Duceppe is making liberalism's alternative very clear.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Gun crime in schools? Boys will be boys

John Tory has taken advantage of a recent spike in school violence to rail against the McGuinty government:

“Dalton McGuinty has been missing in action for years when it comes to dealing with violent youth-related crime... A real leader would be doing everything he could to starve these gangs of new recruits and keep the most dangerous offenders off the streets."

His star recruit candidate Randy Hillier, however, sees things rather differently:

"...Political correctness and authoritarian rule bring the greatest harm and danger to children…Boys must be docile and learn to be passive, as masculine behaviour is outlawed and re-named 'bullying.'" (courtesy of apply liberally)

In other words, we shouldn't concern ourselves with young offenders. We should get off their backs. Because boys will be boys.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Boy - that Jamie Caroll. How out-of-touch can one be? I thought everyone knew that in this country - particularly when it comes to representation - there is a racial-cultural hierarchy. English and French need to be represented by English and French. The rest are allowed to enjoy the ride.

The McRoberts-Frulla-Duddle trifecta (as I conceive it) must be flaming mad. Oh - and so
they are.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

John Tory meets his star candidate

CBC Radio, earlier this afternoon.

(Contextually, Tory has promised open war on Aboriginal land-claims protesters. He was talked down from symbollically burning the Ipperwash Report at a news conference, but remains steadily intent upon creating a race crisis in Ontario. Or... at least one.)

CBC HOST: Let's go to Frontenac County. John is on the line. Hi John.

CALLER: Well, John, I've got this issue. You've got Randy Hillier running here in LFL&A [Lanark-Frontenac- Lennox and Addington] and when he was head of the LLA and that's the Lanark Landowners Association for the rest of the province. He closed down the 401 three times. Once in London, once in Thousand Islands then the QEW when he did his tractor day to Queen's Park there. He gets invited to be candidate for the PC party, Shawn Brant does it once and he's in jail for two months without bail. And I see a degree of hypocrisy there. One rule for the white guy and one rule for the natives. Can you explain that?

JOHN TORY: I, I, I could do my best because I could tell you this much.

CALLER: Without the double-speak.

JOHN TORY: There won't be any double-speak. When Mr. Hillier was the head of the landowners and I was the leader of the PC Party and he had expressed no interest or had not approached us about being a candidate. I can tell you that I telephoned him before his first protest at which time he said he was going to block the highway and encouraged him not to do that, urged him not to do that. I said, look you can have the same protest by the side of the highway and in fact you'll see more people because they'll go by you as opposed to blocking the highway off. And I have said consistently, when it comes to what I've said about the rule of law for people who are obstructing highways or anything else, the law should apply to everyone. And I specifically mentioned the day I first took that position and laid out one rule of law for everybody that it applied to groups of farmers. I mentioned that. Or groups of environmentalists. Or groups of Aboriginal people. And so I've been very very consistent in that and Mr. Hillier would tell you that, I've phoned him and I've communicated with him any time he was going to do any protest of that kind and said don't do that there are other ways to protest without blockading highways. With respect to how he became the candidate, in our Party, the PC party, the candidates are elected democratically at the riding level. So Mr. Hiller came forward and put his name in and I think there were three or four candidates who ran for the nomination and he won.

CALLER: You don't vet these people at all.

JOHN TORY: I'll be very truthful with you about that. No double-speak. They’re all vetted to see if there is anything in their background in terms of brushes with the law or any of those kinds of things that would disqualify them form being a candidate it's done before the nomination process so that you don't, it's not too late and we looked at his entire background and I can tell you this man has had no brushes with the law.

CALLER: Whoa, back up. Back up. He's been incarcerated before.

JOHN TORY: Look at that, if that is true, I'm not familiar with that but I mean I can tell you there was a check on his background. What was he incarcerated for?

CALLER: I believe in the Cornwall incident.

JOHN TORY: Well, that's news to me.

CBC HOST: I'm just going to intervene here. We do want to get to some other callers as well. Thank you John for your inquiry.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

a worthwhile evaluation of the debate

Here is another example of why Ian Urquart is a journalist. He doesn't evaluate who 'won' the debate like it's a sporting event (and inevitably concluding that - like every other debate - "no knockout blow was landed"). He doesn't express amazement that the incumbent premier was "put on the defensive" by his opposition, or that that same premier was "still standing" by the end. He doesn't congratulate John Tory for "personalizing" his positions by ignoring facts/trends and citing individuals he met who had had a raw deal.

He actually takes a look at what was said.

It's just good journalism for a change. Because this, on the other hand, is complete nonsense written around a neat picture.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

John Tory will clean your house

The Toronto Star asks the leaders of each major party to note their greatest achievements in politics.

McGuinty: saving public eduction. Fine.
Hampton: keeping Ontario Hydro public. Whatever.

But John Tory, sweaty with integrity, knocks it out of the park:

"Helping people."

Specifically, a woman with a messy house.
[On a purely personal level, he smacks a bit of Jack Layton, doesn't he?]

In fairness, he notes that he has only been in political life for "3 or 4 years" (unfortunately a bold-faced lie.)

Also, he doesn't intend to become a "career politician." In that, I think he's going to be tremendously successful.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is this a Premier?

Overheard today some political commentators expressing surprise at John Tory's seeming lack of campaign instincts. Certainly there have been gaffes, both big (creationism in the classroom) and small (the linguistic innovation hereby dubbed Sprench).

[Come to think of it, the two cancel eachother out in some ways. If we are all to learn in separate ethnic enclaves, at least we can share in one mega amalgum language.]

Yes, there have been mistakes - but who's surprised? How quickly we forget Canada's first introduction to Mr. Integrity and Leadership. He was, of course, defending the use of that picture the right. In fact, he was just about the only person in the hallowed federal PC class of '93 who didn't feel any apology was necessary.

[Imagine if Kim Campbell had taken his advice and stood firm? What a disaster that election could've been.]

To paraphrase, is this a Premier?

Vacuousity of the Ontario NDP

Howard Hampton predictably kicks off his campaign in Hamilton today, but I've got my hands full with the shrill Dippers in and around my new Toronto abode. There's a lot wrong with the Ontario NDP, but let's start with the petty stuff:

It is deeply embarrassing the way that a number of Dippers have endeavoured to make the MPP wage hike a defining issue of the new campaign. This intention is made pretty clear in any campaign speech I've heard so far. How stupid do they think Ontarians are?

On a practical level, the hike amounted to about $230 000. This is a blip in the finance of Canada’s biggest province. Single school playgrounds received more.

Then there are the principled implications. An independent body instructed the government that MPPs were underpaid, comparative to other legislators in the country. The government accepted the pay raise suggested to them.

And the NDP cries that there has been some ethical violation? Funny that – ‘equal work for equal pay’ sounds to me like an important principle of the labour movement. In fact - consciously or not - the NDP has adopted exactly the line that management often uses in disputes with unions: “a pay raise is unacceptable, because someone somewhere is paid less than you!”

To top it all, the silk-stocking dilettantes make a showy public display of donating their extra money to charity. I vaguely recall something in the Bible about that... As long as they don’t expect any rewards in heaven. [Whoops! - here I go scripting John Tory's political defence for him.]

This failed stab at populism only demonstrates how out of touch the NDP really is. I didn't get a 22% raise in wage. I would've liked one. But Ontarians face real problems. Let’s talk about those.