Stephane Dion attacks NDP for pandering to "separatists"

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Lord Palmerston
Stephane Dion attacks NDP for pandering to "separatists"

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Lord Palmerston

Stephane Dion wrote:
This is a hard truth, but it must be said.

The New Democratic Party is now endorsing positions of the Bloc Québécois that are harmful to Canadian unity. It’s time we talked about this issue.

Just like the Bloc, the NDP would have Quebec’s Bill 101 apply to federal institutions, with no second thought about the negative impacts such a move would have on official language minorities across the country.

Just like the Bloc, the NDP would have Quebec’s representation in the House of Commons frozen at its present percentage. But at the same time, the NDP says it wants to correct the under-representation of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia while maintaining the representation level of the other provinces. Should Quebec’s representation go up in percentage without other provinces going down, the total would go over 100% — an arithmetical impossibility. Only in sports can one “give 110%.” No wonder the NDP refuses to release its numbers. That’s what happens when you try to please everyone without being honest about the consequences.

Just like the Bloc, the NDP argues that a majority of 50%-plus-one is the only valid rule in a democracy. Yet even the NDP requires a two-thirds majority to amend its own constitution.

Just like the Bloc, the NDP argues that in a referendum based on a question selected by a secessionist government, a majority of a single vote would be enough to trigger Quebec’s secession, however unclear the question or uncertain the majority. This runs directly against the 1998 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the secession reference, and The Clarity Act, which the NDP once supported.

Just like the Bloc, the NDP argues that accepting such a lack of clarity is a mark of openness toward Quebeckers. Sorry, but considering it acceptable to expose us Quebeckers to a confused and confusing attempt at secession is anything but a mark of openness toward us. On the contrary, defending our rights means guaranteeing that we will never lose Canada unless we clearly want to. We were guaranteed this “right to Canada” by the Supreme Court. Demagogic politicians cannot take that right away from us. Ed Broadbent understood that very well.

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/03/12/stephane-dion-ndps-separa...

 

socialdemocrati...

I think this will be the line of attack that Liberals and Conservatives will use. In fact, I think the Conservaives will be more bold and say that we're crypto, secret separatists.

 

Skinny Dipper

Harper and his Conservatives are in a position that they do not need to win seats in Quebec in order to win a majority government.  The NDP will need to balance the interests of Quebeckers and Canadians living outside Quebec.  If I were the future NDP leader, I would stay away from discussions about separation.  The NDP's job will be to make Canada a better place for all Canadians.  I would also stay away from discussing the number or percentage of seats each province/territory deserves.  Finally, while promoting French is fine, I would also stay away from proposing "Bill 101" style laws for federal institutions and federally regulated businesses in Quebec.  That will kill the NDP outside Quebec.  Focus on the bread and butter issues.  Leave the quasi-constitutional discussions until a later time.

Hoodeet

Most Québécois who voted NDP probably did so because of the social agenda and because the NDP is the only national party that really recognizes Québec as a distinct society, as a nation. That does not make either the NDP or those who voted for it "separatists".  There's a distinct between "sovereignists", "separatists" and those who recognize a "distinct society" which the NDP can point out whenever it's attacked.

It's good to know early in the game what the lines of attack are going to be.

 

Bärlüer

The NDP should count itself lucky to have Stéphane Dion tilting at windmills like that. Interventions along those lines will only continue to reassert the Liberals' irrelevance in Quebec.

Stéphane Dion wrote:
Just like the Bloc, the NDP would have Quebec’s Bill 101 apply to federal institutions, with no second thought about the negative impacts such a move would have on official language minorities across the country.

You mean, like these ones...?

Stockholm

Its funny to hear Stephane Dion squawk about the NDP "pandering to separatists" - as he himself seems to be pandering to francophobes in the rest of Canada. Its worth noting that this is the same Stephane Dion who was willing to form a coalition with the NDP that was to be supported by the separatists in the BQ! I guess doesn't think its such a bad thing to play footsie with "the separatists" (sic.) as long as it meant he had a chance to become PM!

 

Debater

I know the NDP has moved very far away from federalism these days, but you do realize that many Québecers have no problem with a strong federalist vision, right?  Taking a stance against separatism is not the terrible thing that some of you in the NDP seem to think it is.  Chrétien was a strong federalist and he got more votes in Québec in 2000 than Gilles Duceppe did.

Being a strong federalist does not mean being anti-Québec.  That is the point Stéphane Dion is making.

Lord Palmerston

The Liberals would rather cooperate with the Tories in order to "save Canada" than cooperate with "separatists."  

Erik Redburn

No, he and other irresponsibly partisan Liberals are simply trying to create a wedge issue where none exists.   The NDP OC cannot win if it fell for either anti-or pro-federalist diactics.   Good for the NDP on this one -so far  

socialdemocrati...

Strong federalism is just centralization. It's why the Liberals have been pushed out of Quebec, and are non-existent in Alberta.

Whether we like it or not, the future of this country is to be found in more provincial rights.

If Liberals want to skirt that debate and turn it into a polemic about separatism, they're going to enjoy third party status for a while.

Chajusong

Debater wrote:
Being a strong federalist does not mean being anti-Québec.  That is the point Stéphane Dion is making.

 

That's precisely not the point Dion is making. What he's saying is that supporting language rights for francophones living in Québec, supporting the right of Québécois to decide their own constitutional destiny, and creating federal institutions that fit the reality of Canada's status as a multinational country is anti-Canada. This letter isn't a paean to federalism - it's an attack on the NDP for daring to disagree with Dion's vision of Canada.

Ippurigakko

Debater, Quebec dont give Chretein majority, there was 38% and 40%, if Quebec give him majority it had to over 50 %

when Quebec leave Canada there would be 57.8% majority in 2000

and last year Quebec dont give Harper majority, there 39% and Quebec without Harper Country there likely 52% conservative majority.

Debater

I didn't say Chrétien got a majority of the vote in Québec - I said he received the most votes in Québec in 2000.  He got 44% to Duceppe's 40%.  Please re-read the words I used in my post.  Smile

What's interesting is that the BQ never received a majority of the vote in Québec either.  They never got above 49% in any of their elections.

The person who holds the record for support in Québec is Pierre Trudeau - 68% of the vote in 1980, and 74 out of 75 seats.  It's unlikely we'll see anyone reach those sort of numbers again.

flight from kamakura

dion is completely irrelevant in quebec, and is actually writing for the rest of canada.  don't mind having a foil like him, that's for sure.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Dion's a dud - his time has come and gone.

Ippurigakko

Dion is almost lose to NDP very close margin in last election!

Doug

I think it's Dion and other Liberals who are out of step and out of touch with their continued adherence to Trudeau's centralized federalism. Just who is the constituency for that supposed to be?

Lord Palmerston

Ippurigakko wrote:

Dion is almost lose to NDP very close margin in last election!

Dion won by about 6,000 votes.  

toaster

I kind of agree with Dion.  If we keep saying, the next leader shouldn't even mention anything about seperation, seat percentages, or the like, then that means they are kind of avoiding it.  Doesn't bother me, really, as long as the votes stay where they were.

DSloth

Yes if the Liberal strategy for the next campaign is to wedge themselves out of any chance of a Quebec revival good for them. 

It's going to be particularly ill conceived if Thomas Mulcair is our leader and they try a seperatist scare campaign against a man who campaigned for the Federalists in both referendums. 

madmax

ScoreBoard

Dion Liberal Vs BQ
Dion = 14 seats
BQ = 49

Ndp vs Bq
NDP = 59
BQ = 4

With numbers like those...

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

Well done on this one folks!

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Dion is on P&P in a minute.

ETA: It was a three-way between Stephane Dion, Peter Julian and Rosie Barton. Dion was almost incomprehensible in English, and basically sounded like an idiot. Pitiful.

Skinny Dipper

toaster wrote:

I kind of agree with Dion.  If we keep saying, the next leader shouldn't even mention anything about seperation, seat percentages, or the like, then that means they are kind of avoiding it.  Doesn't bother me, really, as long as the votes stay where they were.

It's not that the NDP should never talk about separation.  Instead, the NDP should be speaking positively about Canada and Quebec's role and participation within Canada.  Be positive about Canada!

pookie

Boom Boom wrote:

Dion is on P&P in a minute.

ETA: It was a three-way between Stephane Dion, Peter Julian and Rosie Barton. Dion was almost incomprehensible in English, and basically sounded like an idiot. Pitiful.

He has the same problem as Turmel - his English is fine but the accent and inflection are very difficult.  That said, I think the majority of Cdns would understand his points just fine....and agree with them.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Well, the closed captioning went haywire because apparently the CC person couldn't understand Dion, either. Peter Julian dismissed Dion completely as just trying to dredge up the old constitutional battles where Dion fits right in.

Sean in Ottawa

The question is a hypothetical one. Both sides want to say they have an answer. The difficulty of the Dion-Julien exchange is that they are both right and they are both wrong. Julien did say something very important-- that a close vote anywhere in the country would create a crisis. But it is also fair to say he is not of the Quebec nation and he is not perhaps in the best position to understand the meaning of such a close vote goes beyond a principle and a number.

It is just as problematic to say that we would accept a majority even if it is narrow than to say we would reject a vote so close and not respect a majority.

What we are seeing is elections are not perfect. When a vote is extremely close you do not know what the real public intention is. To say no to recognition of a clear majority even if it is by just one is not democratic but so too would be to say yes knowing that if the vote is close you will never know for sure if it is the right vote reflecting a bare majority or a fluke becuase of some irregularity.

A poll is accurate plus or minus x percent. We don't want to admit it but so is an election although the margin is closer.

I want to hear someone be honest about this.

This is what I want to hear a politician say:

A 50% vote plus one could be an incorrect reflection because elections are not perfect. But it is by that one vote more likely to be right than the one that lost by one and that is why we go for the 50% plus one. A democratic election loses its accuracy when the numbers are that close but there is no other tool to use. Let us not pretend that a vote that is that close would not be a crisis or that we would know for sure that the process got the intention of the people right. Let's understand that we hope that if Quebec decides again that it does so by a wider margin. The idea of taking Quebec out of Canada on one vote is truly horrible but so to is keeping it in by one vote. Not respecting that one vote would be even worse. The difference of one vote is insignificant. What it means is that an equal portion of people will be unhappy with whatever outcome. It would reflect a horrible national split. When you understand Quebec as a nation, a community, a people, to see a split down the middle would be a tragedy deeper than the issue of which way the outcome went.

I want a politician to admit that no formula will really heal or fix this problem. Really we would want to hope that on a question that big the vote is more decisive than it was last time not closer still. To suggest that one option or another would not be a disaster in such a close vote is to deny the reality such a vote would mean.

Problem is the hypothetical question is both unavoidable and unanswerable if it means coming up with a single right answer that will satisfy either principles or people. We go with 50% plus one vote only becuase every other alternative response is worse not becuase it is a good option.

 

 

algomafalcon

Boom Boom wrote:

Dion is on P&P in a minute.

ETA: It was a three-way between Stephane Dion, Peter Julian and Rosie Barton. Dion was almost incomprehensible in English, and basically sounded like an idiot. Pitiful.

It was a real mess. For one thing, Dion starts by mixing up too many issues. I happen to agree with him that the NDP support for "minimum fixed percentage seat allottment" for Quebec is silly and anti-democratic (as are the other minimum allotments for the Atlantic provinces because they result in underrepresentation for Canadians living in other provinces. But the NDP proposal was actually a proposal made by the federal Conservatives which was rejected in the Charlottetown Referendum by Quebec, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and the Yukon (every province which has ever had an NDP provincial or territorial government except Ontario). The separatists in the PQ and BQ actually opposed the proposals and most of the federal Liberal leadership supported the proposals (except Pierre Trudeau). It is true that the federal NDP supported the Charlottetown Accord, and they received a stinging rebuke by voters in the following election when the NDP dropped to 9 seats.

Dion REALLY treaded into the twilight zone when he suggested that the NDP was supporting the breakaway of parts of (post separation) Quebec to join Canada on the basis of a 50% plus one referendum. I'm pretty sure the NDP has never suggested that it would go that direction (breakup of Quebec) but I think one problem in a post "OUI" separation referendum will be what happens with native claimed lands if any FNs balk at going along with the majority. This is such a complicated issue, I wouldn't be surprised to see it end up in an international court.

I thought Julian made the obvious point that you cannot force any part of Canada to remain if the majority (50 percent plus one), vote to separate in a referendum.

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

Doug wrote:

I think it's Dion and other Liberals who are out of step and out of touch with their continued adherence to Trudeau's centralized federalism. Just who is the constituency for that supposed to be?

Ontario, for starters, where elections are won and lost nowadays.

Chajusong

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

The question is a hypothetical one. Both sides want to say they have an answer. The difficulty of the Dion-Julien exchange is that they are both right and they are both wrong. Julien did say something very important-- that a close vote anywhere in the country would create a crisis. But it is also fair to say he is not of the Quebec nation and he is not perhaps in the best position to understand the meaning of such a close vote goes beyond a principle and a number.

That's not fair. Peter Julian is as much of the Québec nation as someone not born in Québec can be. He studied polisci at UQAM. He was an NDP activist in Québec in the 1980s and 1990s. I believe his wife is québécois. He lived in Québec for 13 years and lived through Meech and Charlottetown here. He wasn't born in Québec, but I don't think one can really say he's not of here, and one certainly can't say his understanding of Québec is just a principle and number.

Sean in Ottawa

Ok good to know that of him.

Then I don't get why he can suggest that it is as simple as 50%+1.

It is that but it is only the best we can do and not guaranteed to be correct since in close votes we can get it wrong.

A close vote means a horrible division. I think as Dion was losing it-- perhaps some understanding of that could have come from Julien and perhaps the fact that it did not was why I assumed his connection to Québec is not as close as you are telling me it is.

A close vote regardless would be a disaster and 50%+1 is indeed the only possible response but it is not either perfect, ideal or anything more than the best guess about the population's intention. And this is the problem with any close vote. Acknowledging that might have diffused some of the fireworks in the interview. I am sorry but I did understand both points including where Dion was coming from. I wish he had instead challeneged Dion to the question what is better than 50%+1? Because that is the reason we take it not because there is anything nice about it or that it is not very, very ugly.

KenS

Dion will never pin down what is better than 50%+1, because he is only interested in the ultimate assertion of the last word by the government of Canada. "We let you decide, but we have veto power."

As much as a wonk and intellectual as he is, in this case that is all just the best PR window dressing to cover that iron fist.

Thats why the Clarity Act is so full of pretty words- the "we let you decide" part- while being so brief about reserving the only real power for Canada.

And Stephane Dion on that works well in the rest of Canada- even when the Clarity Act comes up here, there are no lack of people to bring up the pretty words in defending it.... not to mention the no small number who just see what the Clarity Act says as the natural order.

Thats a reflection of the problem the NDP is going to face in the ROC, and Dion is getting started stirring the pot.... with the Cons waiting to do the really ugly stuff.

Wilf Day

Stephane Dion wrote:
the NDP argues that in a referendum based on a question selected by a secessionist government, a majority of a single vote would be enough to trigger Quebec’s secession, however unclear the question or uncertain the majority. This runs directly against the 1998 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the secession reference, and The Clarity Act, which the NDP once supported.

The Court and the Clarity Act both say "a clear majority." Dion loves to ask "if 50%+1 is a clear majority, what is an unclear majority?" I reply: "39.6%."