The Conservatives pride themselves on their ability to throw Opposition leaders under the bus. And they're at it now with NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel. She is a self-proclaimed federalist and always has been. She was a member of the BQ and of Quebec Solidaire and the Conservatives are trying to use this to prove that she and the NDP have serious questions to answer about their commitment to federalism.
You've got to love the Conservatives.
Look at Stephen Harper whose commitment to federalism was a lot shakier than that of Ms. Turmel ever was before he became leader of the Canadian Alliance. He was on the record with views that were intensely hostile to Canada, something you cannot say about Nycole Turmel.
In 1997, Harper delivered a speech to a U.S. conservative think-tank in which he said that "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it." He further stated that "the NDP is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men."
Following the federal election of 2000, along with other right-wingers, Harper co-authored a document called the "Alberta Agenda."
It called on the provincial government to "build firewalls around Alberta" to stop the federal government from redistributing the province's wealth to less affluent regions. That year Harper also wrote that Canada "appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country...led by a second-world strongman [Jean Chretien] appropriately suited for the task." He advocated a "stronger and much more autonomous Alberta."
This guy is the Conservative idea of a federalist!
If the Conservatives are going to start demanding loyalty oaths from political leaders, they are going to have to delve into the past and check out the late Richard Hatfield who was Conservative premier of New Brunswick for many years. Not only did Hatfield seek electoral advice from the Parti Quebecois while Rene Levesque was the sovereignist premier of Quebec, on the theory that they both hated Liberals, in a moment of enthusiasm he even took out a membership in the PQ. Hatfield a separatist! Who knew?
This article was first posted on James Laxer's blog.
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