April 13, 2005

Castonguay Classless and Confused

Claude Castonguay’s diatribe in La Presse yesterday makes me want to throw up. There is a reason many Canadians respect and admire Pierre Trudeau. Castonguay begins by calling Trudeau arrogant. It did feel like he was better than the rest of us. The man led the country for 15 years and brought home the Canadian Constitution, which is now widely supported. I’m going out on a limb here, I think that makes him better than most. He saw the world differently, and now Canadians share his view of the world.
When Canadians are asked whether or not they support the Constitution, they are massively in favour, with the highest support in Quebec, a province where nearly half the population voted to remove themselves from the country ten short years ago. I guess that means even separatists support the Constitution.
He accuses Trudeau of ignoring Quebec when bringing home the Constitution. He said it fuelled separatism. If Quebeckers felt so screwed, or gangraped, (as Levesque said), why would they support the Charter more than any other province?
Castonguay accuses Trudeau of sinking the ideas stated in the Victoria Charter (1970), the Pepin-Robarts Commission on Canadian Unity (1978-1979), and the Meech Lake Accord in 1987-1990. All three agreements had one thing in common; they refused to support soft nationalism with a weak federal government. Pierre Trudeau was the champion of symmetrical federalism. He believed all provinces are equal. He refused to cave in 1970. He refused to cave in 1979. He refused to cave in 1990. If anything, I would call him consistent, an ardent defender of his vision. Unlike soft nationalists, or assymetrical federalists, his vision was clear and consistent. As with every round of negotiations, Bourassa, then Levesque, then Bourassa again simply could not get their demands straight, always asking for different conditions which will ruin the equality of partners who entered into Confederation.
Pierre Trudeau accomplished many great feats for his country. He introduced Bilingualism, widely accepted by an overwhelming majority of Quebeckers, but not to a large chunk of Castonguay’s Conservative party. As Justice minister, he was the first to speak out against discrimination against homosexuals by legalizing sodomy, whose rights to civilly marry are now being championed by the Liberal Party, overwhelmingly supported by Quebeckers, not so much by Castonguay’s Conservatives.
Castonguay would like to smear the reputation of one of Canada’s greatest political figures, all to gain political points in an uncertain atmosphere. Nothing is proven yet he makes allegations that the Liberal Party does not understand Quebec. Can Quebec support Prime Minister Harper? The truth of the matter is that if Pierre Trudeau ran against Stephen Harper in Quebec, he would get 90% of the vote, including probably an angry Claude Castonguay. I challenge him to prove me otherwise.

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