Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

defeat the nation resolution regardless of your candidate

Time to state the obvious: It is imperative that we take the leadership race out of the "Nation" resolution. It is far too important for us to be led down the garden path by our leadership loyalties.

Is it coincidence that - despite his career's record - all of Bob Rae's supporters have turned up on the non-recognition side? Is it coincidence that all the Ignatieff supporters that flocked to him out of Trudeauvian nostalgia have landed at the Nation end of things? No - what it is is absurd.

It's absurd particularly because the issue doesn't break down along leadership lines in the way that the media has purported. There is no Chretien-Martin here, no Trudeau-Turner. What you have on the surface is a bunch of Martins arguing with eachother. But it becomes even more complicated the deeper you dig.

First is Ignatieff, the resloution's champion. But is his position as pure as it has been construed? Here is a selection of relevant quotes over the course of his recent career:

"I don't want a community of communities. I don't want tribalism. I want a kind of moral individualism."
- UK interview

"Ignatieff, who keeps a photo of former Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau (1968-1979) in his campaign office, warned that Conservative promises of more money and power for the provinces and a seat for Quebec in international circles could weaken the federation.

‘Canadians want a country. They don't want a community of communities,' Ignatieff said. 'I'm committed to the national unity of the country.’"
- AP

Some argue that Ignatieff has favoured the nation notion since Blood and Belonging. This is revisionist history. He has Quebeckers explain what Nationalism is to them, to which he writes "What can you say to such a deep myth?"

He warns of the impact of Bill 101, and how the Charter must not be compromised: "Individuals would lose this right of appeal, and the way would be open to majoritarian ethnic nationalism."

And then there's Mr Rae. Trudeau re-embodied, right? He could be, if we dismiss everything he said and did prior to mid-August. Bob on Quebec:

"The country would be in better shape if the Meech Lake Accord had passed.”

He wrote that Pierre Trudeau et al “[were] arguing in defiance of Canadian history.” Whilst many Liberals celebrate Trudeau’s achievements, Rae isolates Trudeau as the source of this federation’s ills: “…we have seen the danger of governing in the name of a theory.”

According to Bob, PM Mulroney “showed great courage and great energy in his defence of the country and I fully supported his attempts to further reform the Constitution…”

And the now famous:
"I always supported the notion that Quebec . . . is a nation, it is a distinct society, which we need to recognize in our Constitution and I have fought for that. The genius behind federalism is that we can be both a Quebecker and a Canadian."

The difference then becomes Rae's "We shouldn't open the constitution right now because it is dangerous" vs. Ignatieff's "We should open the constitution, but not until it isn't dangerous to do so."

This is an artificial dispute, manipulated by all sides. My suggestion is this: we attend the convention, we tear the resolution to shreds, and we send a message to whomever is our leader - that we don't need to pander, because we can think.


Blogger CuriosityCat said...

Well said!

8:51 AM  
Blogger Zac said...

A rallying call I think we can all get behind.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo, Steel City. Although I think a revised resolution that all camps can agree on is better than chucking the work of months by the LPCQ leading up to the resolution. They are solidly behind it and just ripping it up with no answer doesn't seem like a practical way to deal with them.

9:19 AM  
Blogger James Curran said...

I think I have some support for that.

The What Do I Know Grit.

9:20 AM  
Blogger DivaRachel said...


9:46 AM  
Blogger Edgewater Views said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But if Mr. Ignatieff wins then it is in his platform. So, in fairness, we have to defeat both.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget: “Other candidates have said... recognizing Quebec as a nation in the Constitution is too difficult,” Mr. Ignatieff said in his closing remarks. “Yes, it's difficult, but we must do it. Otherwise, what alternative are we offering against (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper's status quo and the Bloc's politics of fantasy?
“I'm not in politics to say that the things we need to do are difficult, but to find solutions.”
Sept. 10 Quebec City

10:15 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Steve said...


12:04 PM  
Blogger Skip said...

I disagree with your post SteelCity, mostly because you characterize Bob in a very negative way - as someone who has artificially placed himself on the other side of Ignatieff...

The truth is that Bob has merely pointed out that going down the road of making (constitutional) promises to Quebec that you don't plan on keeping (for lack of will, or ability, or otherwise) is a recipe for disaster. That is what Ignatieff has proposed. So - is it wrong for Bob to say: "Hey Mike, frankly, you don't know what the fuck you're talking about!"? I don't think so, in fact, I think it's important for both Bob and Stephane to point out the error in Michael's ways.

Keep in mind, that it was Michael who first introduced this idea as a part of his platform at the Quebec City Debate, and then after in his "Agenda for Nation Building." Bob and Stephane are merely pointing out that Ignatieff's position - that he says he wants to amend the constitution (read: Agenda for Nation Building), that he says he wants to do so as leader (read: Quebec City Debate statements), but that he doesn't actually want to do it - is one that would bring nothing short of disaster.

I repeat - Michael Ignatieff, and no one else, introduced this into the leadership debate as a part of his platform at the Quebec City debate.

2:28 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

I think I've cast both candidates in a negative light, and for that I am unapologetic. It is breathtaking to me that Rae would abrogate a lifetime philosophy for short-term political convenience. That needs to be said.

I know that Ignatieff is responsible for bringing this issue to the fore in the campaign. I blame him for that - everyone does.

My argument here, in part, is that we shouldn't make Bob Rae something he is not. Arguing that recognition of Quebec nationhood in the constituion is good, but any such discussion can only happen under certain careful circumstances is one thing. Arguing that the constiution shouldn't be reopened, that Quebec shouldn't be recognized as a nation, that Quebec isn't a nation is something else altogether. The former is Rae's argument, the latter arguments are a part of the broader debate about the resolution. They are very distinct from one another.

This is why the leadership needs to be taken out of the resolution debate.

Has Rae deliberately obscured his argument to buy into some of the more general opposition to the resolution? I get the impression that he has - after all, nothing in the resolution qualifies as what he claims is wrong with Ignatieff's position. You may disagree, but it's not the most important point anyway.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous burlivespipe said...

I think you miss the simple point -- Rae has constitutional experience. He has sat at the table and mashed out and seen what can't be mashed out through the trumpets of provincialism. The candidates are fairly united in the fact that in an ideal world Quebec would be signed on, would be recognized -- but whether as distinct society, a nation, a nation among nations etc -- so Rae's point remains consistent. He has said over and over again that the point of broaching such a hot potato would not bear french fries and poutine. The sovereignists are laying low but not out of the picture. To charge into some neary-fairy ideal of 'gettin' it done', as Ignatieff stepped off with in his opening jag, would be a blindsided stance that could very possibly create dangerous fissures in our nation. It's not a topic to be playing lightly with.
Rae is not as you suggest, hangin' with Mikey. These two are distinctly on different paths.
But that conclusion would distract from your overall 'I hate Bob' theme here, right?

7:31 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:51 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:59 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Oops, reload trouble.

Burl-Come on now. Surely not preferring one candidate is unimportant, and makes sense. So if the implication is that we put that over the facts, it is baseless. Mike has literally said positive things about Rae on this blog in a post. Anyway it is exactly that which you do, where a preference for Rae is obscuring his actual position, which is what has led us to prefer others since the beginning. If the criticism of Ignatieff is so vital, why should we not critique Rae for it? Fact is, our position has been consistent, unlike Bob's. Nowhere have we, or will we, put some preconceived notion of the candidate's above what their actual positions or statements are. I wish I could say the same for others. It is the absurdity of people who only a few months ago were telling us don't worry about all this constitutional business and support Rae anyway, now saying this is vital we care now, that Mike has so adeptly pointed out. And people flocking to Ignatieff for his defense of the national citizenship going out of their way to agree with every two nations concept they can find (not that Ignatieff has, but many supporters). That is what deserves criticism.

I don't see any argument here that rebuts what Mike has said, other than that Rae has experience in playing fast and loose with this sensitive issue (which you credit him for yet charge Ignatieff for), with fairly dismal results. It is a false debate, we have said that since the beginning and we will keep saying it.

1:33 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

The false debate being that this is a Trudeauite-Turnerite party battle, with Rae and Dion somehow on the Trudeau side, when history says otherwise, and rather we are lacking choices at the moment in this regard.

(Didn't think that came across clear enough in last message)

1:36 AM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

Contrary to popular belief, accusing me of casting Bob Rae negatively is not a trump card that topples my argument. I don't like him. I'm not the only one.

This is precisely what I'm talking about. Inability to see things in other than Iggy V Rae terms - especially when they clearly don't break down along those line, and the two merely represent two ends of a procedural argument belonging to one side of the nation debate - is not going to serve us well.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Skip said...

Nah, it's not even that. It's just that if you are going to write a serious message, then write the message - without the anti-so and so innuendo.

That's what rips apart your credibility.

That, and you're supporting Michael Ignatieff, yet, you argue against his policies?

I just don't understand it.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

"Nah" That is a great argument. Ignatieff is not just this nation business, no one is going to tell me one paragraph of a 30 page policy book is a whole platform. But more importantly, the whole point is clarifying that position which you are misudnerstanding. Unlike other Ignatieff supporters, and judging by your refusal to acknowledge the facts of what Rae et al have done on this issue, other candidates' supporters, we have principles that we stick by and evaluate candidates based on them.
There is no anti so and so innundo in his post, that is nonesense. Are you not anti-Ignatieff? What a smokescreen. Since the entire country is being swept up in a misleading battle perhaps we should say something. But we're not to have opinions? Come to us with real rebuttals or don't bother.

Have you seen a single anti-Ignatieff post on Liblogs? And you're telling us about that? Give me a break. I'm glad the substance of this important post was lost on you as well.

1:15 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...


Shit, is that how my credibility is being shredded? Thanks man. I need that stuff.

I'm losing credibility in the eyes of only the pettiest, most infantile Bob Rae supporters [CuriosityCat started this thread off with "well said", and he is as pro-Rae as it comes - but he still retains some ability to think critically, and he is a grown-up]. To be honest, I can deal with that.

If you dislike "anti-so and so inuendos" on Liberal blogs you must cry yourself to sleep every night. I suppose you chide all the Iggy-rippers as well?

Anyways, Bob Rae is a horrendous candidate for the Liberal Party. I belong to the Liberal Pary. I'm posting about the Liberal leadership race. So I'm going to go ahead and innuendo away, because it wouldn't make a lot of sense for me not to.

"I just don't understand it."

5:55 PM  

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