Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

new treason of old ideas

I'm ultimately glad this essay was written. I did feel that many were taking wild liberties with Trudeau's legacy for their own ends (although I certainly don't include Justin in that company). I also believe that liberties are being taken with Ignatieff's position.

However, does Apps make a convincing case that positions of Ignatieff and Trudeau are entirely reconcilable? The answer is a resounding no.

I wish I had time to take the essay proposition by proposition. I unfortunately do not, so I will comment as succinctly as possible.

This is not synthesis of the two men's ideas that it purports to be. Apps introduces himself as an unrepenting Trudeauite, but his meandering generalization of the Quebec fact often departs Trudeau profoundly. One example I can quickly recall is his discussion of French Canada outside of Quebec. French Canadians, according to Apps, understand that the best guarantor of their "founding nation" status is the heaping of recognition upon the province of Quebec. What is this, if not Trudeauvia repented? Just one example of many.

The meat of the piece hovers over the question of "ethnic" vs "civic". Apps reminds us that Trudeau believed in building civic nationalism as a tool to curb the ethnic variety. Fair enough. However, in noting that "all rational thought depends on the ability to draw useful distinctions" he fails to distinguish between the civic nation of Canada and the civic nation of Quebec. Trudeau did indeed seek to build civic nationalism in Quebec, but a civic nationalism that regarded Canada as the fundamental civic unit.

Why are we "faux Trudeau acolytes" concerned with the civic nation of Quebec, if civic nationalism implies identityless tolerance? At simplest:
a) Are we deluding ourselves? Trudeau reminded us that nationalists can speak in such liberal, inclusive terms and believe themselves, but the national project carries certain inevitabilities. Before we can believe in a civic nation of Quebec, we need to demonstrate - in real terms, based on who practices nationalism in Quebec, who doesn't, and what each group wants - that there is no inherent identity imbedded in Quebec nationalism. This hasn't been accomplished yet.
b) What purpose does Canada serve the civic nation of Quebec? If Quebec has achieved a perfect political union under which all citizens are Quebecois in equal stead, Canada is only justified on a very shallow basis (short-term economic benefits, etc.).

In other words: a worthy attempt, but I'm not buying it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wouldn't even be a case of agree or not agree - Trudeau had an extremely huge stubborn ego and even if he did agree - he wouldn't let it be known.

I don't care what Justin thinks in the least and he's taking away from attention to the race by using his name for his 15 minutes of fame and media coverage. I hope I don't have to look at his face, his opinions and his I'm smart and better than you because my name is Trudeau - who cares.

This is about Trudeau, Justin Trudeau or Alexandre who has now put out an opinion (ya, Alexandre who is a Castro worshiper).

Let's get back to the candidates and away from the Trudeaus.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Of course, in a party where we are debating ideas that surround an issue that is far from new, where historical positions have been sketched out, it is nothing but logical to consider past stances, especially from giants of this party such as Trudeau. Were Mike's point simply Trudeau yes or Trudeau no, it would not be as relevant, however as usual their is an argument here. These are thought out arguments that liberals agree with or disagree with or think should change, whether we ascribe a name to them because someone is their most visible representative does not make them less important, it just makes it easier to sum up what we're talking about. It is not about sticking with Trudeau or against because of who he was, but because of WHAT he stood for. If you find you stand for that too, or don't, it makes sense to identify with it.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Mike, I've read the article, it would take years to go over it. Good analysis though.

10:18 PM  

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