Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Constitutional Discussions Back on the Front Burner

"English Canada must clearly understand that, whatever is said or done, Québec is, today and forever, a distinct society, that is free and able to assume the control of it's destiny and it's development."

Robert Borassa spoke those words during his infamous speech delivered right after the Meech Lake Accord went down to defeat in June of 1990. Fifteen years later, I believe that the words are just as poignant and true. Are we ready to recognize this reality and understand the depth of the conviction?

The first signs of hope that we are arrived yesterday, when Stephen Harper offered the beginning of a plan to try once again to wrestle with unity productively. Harper has offered an olive branch by promising to bring Quebec back into focus with the rest of Canada by acknowledging the distinctness of la Belle Province. This would include allowing them to play a role on the international level; something which Martin has clearly refused to consider in the past. Today, Jean Charest gave his endorsement in a positive interview with the Quebec media. All good news as far as I'm concerned.

Martin's response to Harper's announcements? He tried to spin the idea that the National unity and bringing Quebec into the constitution is not the priority for Canadians. Too darn late! The Sponsorship scandal and the mess that the Liberals have made in the province of Quebec has clearly put this issue on the front burner. It is a priority. Canadians are gradually becoming more and more aware of the crisis that is brewing in Quebec, with the Separatists leading the way again.

While I'm hopeful that one of the leaders is attempting to offer an alternative choice in Quebec, we have a very long way to go. The Conservatives have no base to work from there, unlike the Mulroney years. However, neither do the Liberals anymore. The timing of Harper introducing his ideas in this election (just before Christmas) isn't good either. It may get lost in the shopping and office party frenzy. But, it is definately something to build on after the New Year when the undecided voter is feeling more pressure to review the platforms of the parties.

I look forward to watching this issue unfold and to see if Harper can define his leadership capabilities by providing his vision of unity to a disillusioned country.

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