September 14, 2006

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Constitution Strain

(This is one in a series of 7:30 AM posts, it is an article by Michel C. Auger, main political columnist at le Journal de Montreal, which I have translated into English. Don MacPherson joined colleague L. Ian MacDonald, calling Ignatieff's plan dangerous...the English-French divide on this issue continues...)

Michael Ignatieff wishes to re-examine the constitutional saga to recognize the Quebec nation. Bob Rae – like just about all others in English Canada and even many in Quebec – say it’s the worst idea anyone could ever have.

We can ask our selves the question: Are Mr. Rae and all others that have lived through the sagas of Meech Lake and Charlottetown – and this includes Jean Charest – perhaps suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, constitution strain, this disease causing horrible nightmares every time the word constitution is uttered?

We can understand that Mr. Rae still has bad dreams thinking back to those days. However, this was 15 years ago. One generation. At the time, all those like Mr. Rae, considering themselves friends of Quebec, had repeated over and over that the status quo was not acceptable and that the changes they proposed were justified and good for Canada.

Today, the consensus of these elites is that we should not take the risk of re-openining the constitutional file, that it is more important to worry about “real issues” and that the status-quo is worth more than all these squabbles.

At the neart of this notion, there is a fear that another constitutional miss would only benefit the sovereigntists. This is typical of the post traumatic stress disorder, constitutional strain.Except that, in the heart of all Quebec federalists, there is not only a desire for change but the feeling that this change has been so often promised to Quebecers only to have it pushed off to a later point in time, even under the pretext of dealing with “real issues.”

Even those who were convinced of the need to wait for strategic reasons – such as Premier Charest and his government – would like, in the end, that English Canada come to terms with the fact that waiting will cause other risks.

Because an unkept promise of constitutional change is a tool for the sovereigntists. It is even the heart of their argument that Canada is genetically incapable to recognize Quebec’s difference. Michael Ignatieff preaches to be bold but he is right not only on the issue of an important strategic question: if the Liberal Party of Canada wants to be re-born in Queebc, they must attack the sontitutional issue and try to rebuild the pots it has already broken.
Since the unilateral repatriation of the constitution in 1981, the Liberal Party never again received a majority of seats in a what used to be considered a one-party province.

Quebecers have not forgotted that it was Pierre Trudeau who wanted and planned the repatriation, despite the almost unanimous opposition of the National Assembly of Quebec. They also have not forgotten Jean Chretien’s opposition to the Meech Lake Accord.
If the Liberal party seeks to be re-born from the ashes in Quebec, they need to clearly reach out to Quebecers. That means that the party has to somehow accept to re-open constitutional negotiations, even with the risks that it entails.

Between the post-traumatic stress disorder of Bob Rae and the boldness of Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal Party should choose the latter.

Because I am returning from a long stay in the United States, I permit myself to cite a quote from Thomas Jefferson that is engraved in the marble stone of his monument in Washington. It applies rather well to the current situation. «I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors».

14 Commentaires:

Blogger calgarygrit a dit...

Because an unkept promise of constitutional change is a tool for the sovereigntists. It is even the heart of their argument that Canada is genetically incapable to recognize Quebec’s difference.

This seems like a good argument NOT to re-open the constitution to me.

9/14/2006 12:01 p.m.  
Blogger Skip a dit...

Moreover, what about those provinces who will refuse to re-open the constitutional debate? What about provinces who would ask for more in return than simply giving Quebec the nation-status it wants? What about the other constitutional questions that will also come to light, such as the Senate, provincial/federal jurisdictions, etc.?

What Ignatieff simplistically believes is that he can re-open the constitutional question and focus it on one issue. The reality is that even if he could re-open the issue, it would open up a veritable pandora's box of neverending arguments regarding the aforementioned issues.

Bob Rae is right on this issue, and quite frankly, Michael Ignatieff is dangerously wrong.

9/14/2006 2:24 p.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

How about the consensus of people over 22 and those who have lived in the country for the past 30 years. That would be a more accurate description than elites Antonio.

9/14/2006 3:52 p.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

Quebec isn`t a nation even under M. Ignatieff`s description. historically francophone quebecquois may be a nation, but that would also include Acadians, the Franco-Ontarions and the Franco-Manitobans. You are not a member of the Quebecquois Nation Antonio. You are Italian. Neither would any of the African, or Asian immigrants to Quebec be included in this nation. The Jews of Canada are a nation. Should they be recognized in the constitution? So are the Metis, the Ukranian immigrants, particularly on the prairies. All of the first nations are nations. etc. etc.

You see, if being a nation is not about a country, then it can not be about a province either. The logic in this arguement is flawed and unapplyable. It CAN NOT work!. Quebec is not a nation. The historically French Quebequois, Acadian and Franco-Ontarian Franco-Manitoban peoples are. Even according to Mr. Ignatieff`s definition.

9/14/2006 3:59 p.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

These are not my words

but those of Michel C. Auger, a leading columnist here in Quebec, the same calibre as Andre Pratte.

Shoshana you should try READING the articles, it may help you formulate a proper attack against me

9/14/2006 5:17 p.m.  
Blogger cat mutant a dit...

Shoshema

Your comments show a complete lack of understanding the issue about the Quebec Nation.

You can say there is a Native Nation, because this is their land. There is the Canadian Nation, which encompasses all of Canada (to a greater-degree in English-Canada). Finally there is a Quebec Nation. If you can't see that for yourself, then maybe you should cut back on studying French and just take a walk around Montreal.

Let's look at it historically. Quebec was called Nouvelle-France (New-France) and was founded by the French. The vast majority of the rest of North America was colonized by the British (Dutch were assimilated, and I'm not talking about the Spanish more south). Hence, from the get-go you have separate histories, separate peoples, and separate cultures.

We all know how Canada came to be, with France giving Quebec to Britain.

In the UK, is there not a Welsh Nation? Is there not a Scottish Nation? In Spain, is there not a Basque Nation, or a Catalonian Nation?

You don't make sense when you speak. Get your facts straight before you try to 'enlighten' people with your comments.

9/14/2006 10:34 p.m.  
Blogger Skip a dit...

The following is an analysis of Mr. Auger's article by Paper Dynamite Online. It was so good, I thought I would post it here.

All Provinces Are Equal But ...

Some Should Be More Equal Than Others: "Fisking" Quebec Columnist Michel C. Auger


Earlier today people that enjoy forums such as this one, were fortunate to have an opportunity to see Quebec's myth-making machinery in action. It came to us as a column from le Journal de Montreal by Quebec political analyst Michel C. Auger. So I thought: What better opportunity to demonstrate to Liberals across the country, and others, one small example of the deliberate distortions the people of this province are subjected to on a regular basis. Let the "Fisking" begin .... (Auger in bold type.)

Towards the beginning of his column, Auger offers a diagnosis of Bob Rae's reluctance to risk opening up the constitutional file:

"At the heart of this notion , there is a fear that another constitutional miss would only benefit the sovereigntists. This is typical of the post traumatic stress disorder, constitutional strain."

Now, I know that separatists and their sympathizers in the Quebec media have little use for balanced history but rather than try to portray experienced English Canadian leaders as timid and shell-shocked, might it not be more accurate to argue that they have taken the words of George Santayana to heart: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

A little later:

"Because an unkept promise of constitutional change is a tool for the sovereigntists."

What unkept promise is he talking about? The unkept promise to entrench a charter of rights? The unkept promise to entrench "equalization payments" in the constitution? The unkept promise to give the provinces greater control over their natural resources? Because if I'm not mistaken, all those promises were kept by the Great Evil Centralizer, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who in that dastardly deal signed in 1982, gave more power to the provinces and the people than any person before or since!

He continues:

"It is even the heart of their argument that Canada is genetically incapable to recognize Quebec's difference."

First I haven't heard anybody say that, but that doesn't matter because Auger wants his readers to believe that it's the case. People across Canada didn't like Meech Lake and Charlottetown because (1) they believed it would neuter the federal government, and/or (2) it didn't address their concerns for democratic reform, and/or (3) they thought it would weaken the Charter of Rights.

His use of the word "genetically" is particularly interesting. It's root is the Greek word for "origin" and if we go back and look at the "origin" of the constitution and move forward, we find numerous ways "Quebec's difference" is recognized: Quebec's civil code, it's guarantee of three Supreme Court justices, it's unique place in the Elections Act, it's unique powers on immigration, there was a slew of parliamentary resolutions in the 90's recognizing Quebec's difference (HELP) and most recently the recognition of Quebec's unique role on the international stage. But again, despite those facts, Auger insists on telling his readers that leaders like Rae believe Engish Canada is "genetically" (from the beginning and forever) incapable of doing something they've be doing for 139 years.

This next piece of self-delusion really illustrates the myth manufacturer's complete disregard for the facts:

"Since the unilateral repatriation of the constitution in 1981, the Liberal Party never again received a majority of seats in a what used to be considered a one-party province."

What?! "unilateral repatriation"?! The only way anybody can argue that the constitution was repatriated unilaterally is by adopting a "two nations theory" which views, nine provinces and the federal government as a single entity representing English Canada and the Province of Quebec as another entity representing French Canada. What is the basis in reality for that?

And what about the 60% of the people who voted for the federalist option in the 1980 Referendum? Or the 60-70% of the people from Quebec who in poll after poll, at the time, expressed their agreement with, and support for the 1981-82 constitutional package? Those people don't count either, it's only the real guardians of virtue in Quebec City who matter.

But there's still more:

"Quebecers have not forgotten that it was Pierre Trudeau who wanted and planned the repatriation, despite the almost unanimous opposition of the National Assembly of Quebec."

The people of Quebec didn't want repatriation? They wanted to run off to London and ask "Si vous plait ...." . They didn't want a Charter that protected their civil rights, including their language rights and the language rights of French Canadians outside Quebec? Well, even if they did want it, Auger's going to make sure they forget that they did.

And what about the unanimous support (-1) of Quebec's federal representatives? Oh wait, they don't count either, because even though they were voted into office by the exact same people who send representives to Quebec City, they didn't wholeheartedly subscribe to the dogma of Quebec's provincial elites, therefore they were not good Quebecois towing the party line -- they don't count.

And it is not the fault of Pierre Trudeau that Brian Mulroney -- who also supported the 1982 repatriation package, by the way -- decided to adopt the mythmakers narrative of "exclusion" for political gain and restock Quebec's dwindling supply of resentment.

And do you know why they won't forget these complete misrepresentation of history? Because ink stained scribes like Auger won't let them.

Here's a quicky:

"They also have not forgotten Jean Chretien's opposition to the Meech Lake Accord."

Well, what's wrong with that? The Parti Quebecois opposed it also. Oh right, Chretien's reasons weren't the right reasons. Well, what about the fact that the people ended up opposing it? Oh right, they're just ... the people. It's Auger's job to remind Quebecers why they have to hate Jean Chretien if they want to consider themselves truly Quebecois.

You see this is what the politicians and the pundit class in Quebec will never admit: Quebecers, for various reasons, it's true, opposed Meech and Charlottetown, but ask Quebecers what part of the Constitution Act they'd like repealed and do you know the answer you'd get? Rien, nothing, nada, zilch ... anyways you get the point.

Close to the end, Auger subtley reveals the true motivation for this column -- he's itching for a fight:

"If the Liberal party seeks to be re-born from the ashes in Quebec, they need to clearly reach out to Quebecers. That means that the party has to somehow accept to re-open constitutional negotiations, even with the risks that it entails."

"EVEN WITH THE RISK THAT IT ENTAILS". You mean, like the destruction of Canada?! Fostering more resentment?! That's what Liberals should do, pander for votes, and leave the future of the country hanging in the balance? Yeah, well maybe, if we're a bunch of moral defectives like the Tories, the NDP and the Bloc constantly say we are, then, and only then, should we do that.

Then Michel Auger offers his sage advice to Liberals in Quebec:

Between the post-traumatic stress disorder ( read:" the wisdom of experience") of Bob Rae and the boldness (read: "so-called boldness") of Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal Party should choose the latter."

There you have it folks: Just a taste of what Quebecers are confronted with everyday: Lies, distortions and self-serving advice, based on myths that ignore history, the facts and the real interests of ... THE PEOPLE -- all designed to bring the separatist project to a successful conclusion. And this has been going on for roughly 22 years without a consistent and, dare I say, "bold" rebuke.

----------

- I know Antonio of Fuddle Duddle and I have vastly different views on this subject, but I'd like to give him a very sincere tip of the hat for his excellent translation of Auger's column.

9/15/2006 9:25 a.m.  
Blogger Ed King a dit...

cat mutant,


Andre Pratte, in the article quoted by Antonio earlier this week, defined nation thus: "a people sharing common language, history and institutions, without necessarily having its own independent state". Quebec is not a "people sharing...", and neither is Scotland. It is a place, a legal and political division which is home to several peoples or nations.

As s.b. correctly points out, one of those nations is the French Canadians, or canadiens as they were called for a few hundred years. They are descendants of the French who were the first Europeans to settle the shores of the St-Lawrence and adjacent rivers. Their descendants can be found in important concentrations as far west as Manitoba, and many were dispersed much further, even in the United States (if I'm not mistaken, "French Canadian" is a listed ethnic group in U.S. censuses, with tens of thousands of Americans identifying themselves as such).

Like many other people, I have trouble understanding why some Quebeckers insist that Quebec is a nation. The definitions provided by them, like Pratte's above, clearly do not apply to Quebec. If you have a definition for the word nation which does apply to Quebec, please share it with us.

9/15/2006 11:09 a.m.  
Blogger cat mutant a dit...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/15/2006 12:14 p.m.  
Blogger cat mutant a dit...

Ed King

If I understand you correctly, then Canada is not a nation either, because many different languages are spoken, many Canadians are from non-British and non-French heritage, many Canadians don't speak either of the official languages at home... but we do share many insitutions.

Hence, according to you, if I understand you correctly, Canada is, and I quote you, "... just a place, a legal and political division which is home to several peoples or nations."

I find that idea very interesting.

Hence, if I understand you correctly, the UK is not a nation, because there are English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Indian, Italian, Chinese, etc, communities.

Also, I'd like to point out that not 'some' Quebecers, but a vast majority of Quebecers (no matter their ethnic background and language) think of Quebec as a Nation.

As for the French Canadian Nation, you can't lump it all together, because they have different histories and cultures. The Acadian culture is quite diverse from the Quebec culture, and neither would like being designated as the same, as you would. Quebec and Acadia have different accents and different histories... just because a common language is shared, doesn't make them one in the same. I'm sure Scots and Welsh would not be keen on being labeled as the same nation since they both speak English (majority). They have different histories, different languages (not widely spoken, but there is a revival), and IMPORTANTLY, different geographical homelands. Neither would Catalans or Basques be keen on being labeled soley Spanish, when Catalan and Basque homelands exist.

Your definition of 'nation' has some merits, but is a close-minded view of the term. Nation is undoubtedly also tied with an ancestrial homeland... Acadia for Acadians, Quebec for Quebecers, etc.

9/15/2006 12:15 p.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

Cat mutant, I was referrnig to Mr. Ignatieff's definition of Nation. I also believe your logic is flawed. Quebec is a province, period. If a country is not a nation than a province isn't either. New France included the Acadians and the Franco-Ontarion, Franco-Manitoban peoples. You have proven my point, merci. The province of Quebec includes many peoples who were not a part of new france and therefore Quebec is not a nation.

9/15/2006 1:19 p.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

I do not have even close enough to the amount of time to respond to Paper Dynamite Online`s critique...if I did I would respond.

I am trying to promote debate because I believe the coverage of the issue in the English Press is VERY one sided

and vice versa with the French Press.

I do not blindly agree with the articles I reprinted...but I do agree with enough of them to post them

9/15/2006 1:27 p.m.  
Blogger Ed King a dit...

Your definition of 'nation' has some merits, but is a close-minded view of the term.

I did not define "nation"; I was using the definition provided by Mr. Pratte and used by others. You should direct your questions to them and ask them to provide a definition of "nation" which applies to Quebec, as I have asked you.

Also, I'd like to point out that not 'some' Quebecers, but a vast majority of Quebecers (no matter their ethnic background and language) think of Quebec as a Nation.

Quebeckers can call themselves anything they want but if they want others to recognize them as a nation, they must define the word in a way which applies to the province.

The Acadian culture is quite diverse from the Quebec culture, and neither would like being designated as the same, as you would.

I did not say or imply that Acadians are canadiens. I defined French Canadians as follows: "descendants of the French who were the first Europeans to settle the shores of the St-Lawrence and adjacent rivers." Anyone familiar with Canadian history knows that this definition does not apply to Acadians, but it does apply to many Manitobans, Ontarians, and New Englanders. Besides, you can hardly accuse me of mislabelling nations when you speak of a "native nation" which does not exist.

If Quebec is to be recognized as a nation, the word must be clearly defined. As I understand it, there are two common definitions of "nation": a sovereign, independent country and 2) Pratte's definition: "a people sharing common language, history and institutions, without necessarily having its own independent state". Neither of these definitions applies to Quebec. If you remain convinced that Quebec is a nation, you must clearly explain what "nation" means before we start talking about the possibility of including it in the constitution.

9/15/2006 2:19 p.m.  
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3/30/2009 7:08 a.m.  

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