October 5, 2006

Gerard Kennedy’s Quebec Problem: a View FROM Quebec....UPDATED!

Gerard Kennedy has implied that his poor Quebec showing is the fault of the Quebec establishment. Organizers have one thing in mind, and that is winning. When they had to choose their horse at the beginning, they wanted a guy who could win.

I was a big critic of Gerard’s French at first. His people marketed him as bilingual, and that was their biggest mistake. If they would have said that he had some work to do but was a quick study, the Kennedy people might have gained more traction.

When he came to Drummondville and first spoke to the Liberal Party in Quebec, most of us did not know who this guy was except that he was bilingual, young, and inspiring. His bad French prevented some of Gerard’s charisma from coming through. Right away, most of us knew Kennedy was already sunk.

Gerard needs to spend more time in the province. His ideas are very much in line with many Quebecers as well. His compassion and his experience in the social economy are very deeply appreciated here. I told Calgary Grit this in an email. Gerard's ideas in Quebec would have broad appeal. However, for Quebecers to take him seriously, he must earn their respect, and working on his French will go a long way in accomplishing that.

Quebec did write off Gerard Kennedy. However, there is nothing he has done since which would tell me that the organizers would not make the same decision again. A vacation will not impress the Quebec people or the ‘establishment’ that Gerard seeks to appeal to. Gerard has potential to gain massive support in Quebec. However, more time spent in Quebec would help Gerard understand why Quebecers fight so hard for recognition, and listen to them plead their case.

Then there is the constitutional position, where polls say that a vast majority agree with Michael Ignatieff that Quebec should be recognized as a nation. I know Gerard’s position because Braeden Caley won’t let me forget it. However, the Quebec position of Kennedy shows a deep lack of understanding of the province of Quebec. Quebecers do not seek to be treated better than everybody else, they have been egalitarians since Confederation. Quebecers want someone who recognizes their historical place within Canada.

I spoke to one my friends who follows politics closely. He told me he never saw Gerard in Quebec once. When I told him Gerard spent three weeks this summer in Quebec, he was shocked. I'll be honest, it came off as a stunt. Gerard is back, and I hope to get a chance to sit down with him. The campaign has already shown interest. This man needs to see Quebec and more importantly, Quebec needs to see him.

From what GK supporters tell me, because I have never heard Gerard on the subject and I do plan on asking him, Gerard does not see Quebec as a nation like Michael, Bob or Stephane do, they tell me Gerard is against the Meech Lake Accord and does not even believe Quebecers to be distinct. If this is the case, it is no wonder he gets 2% in Quebec, as that position is no longer tenable in Quebec, even for the wimps who recognize Quebec is a nation but deny them official recognition like Bob Rae, Stephane Dion and Stephen Harper. Taking Trudeau's position is still honourable, and I commend Gerard for it. I hope to discuss it with Gerard soon.

So yes, Gerard, maybe the organizers did decide early, but based on what we have seen since, there is no way you have convinced anyone you can actually win here in Quebec, and THAT, is what will get you the support you need. Come on down, let Quebecers see you. You represent a generational renewal in the party and you are an asset this party cannot afford to underuse. Your French is good enough now, time to let Quebecers see the Gerard Kennedy they were first promised.

Note: The version has changed, a draft was put up by accident.

Update: As I had put earlier in the comments, Gerard's position has changed since I first heard him opine regarding the Quebec "nation". He also says that calling Quebec a nation is not a concession towards Quebec. Interesting point, as there is a simple segue to "you-know-who's" position...DISCUSS

50 Commentaires:

Blogger Manitoba Liberal a dit...

Kennedy position on Meech and Quebec is the same as tradiional Liberal views held by Trudeau and Chretien.

It's the Mulrony/Ignatieff supporters that are off base.

10/04/2006 1:55 p.m.  
Blogger calgarygrit a dit...

I think that's a pretty fair analysis Antonio. I think you might be off on the constitutional position because Rae and Dion both did well there, but your analysis isn't too far off base.

Kennedy will certainly focus a lot on getting his name out in Quebec where he isn't known in the coming weeks.

10/04/2006 3:31 p.m.  
Blogger Cerberus a dit...

Nice try Manitoba Liberal. Rae and Dion hold the same view of Quebec as Ignatieff and the rest of the Quebec caucus.

Take the view that Trudeau's vision is the only viable option for Canada all you want. But don't put your head in the sand about what Quebecers think or about what will continue to happen to the Liberal Party in Quebec if we all thought that way.

In fact, the "Trudeau/Chretien" understanding of Quebec is not how Quebecers understand Quebec. That old guard view thinks of Quebecers as polarized between either federalist or separatist. Since Mulroney some try to finesse that by saying there is a middle point along that spectrum of "soft nationalists" and "hard nationalists".

Quebecers don't think or talk this way. For them there is no conflict in being both strongly federalist and nationalist at the same time. The old Trudeau approach to a "one canada" is actually neither right nor wrong... it is simply irrelevant. Talking form that old polarized viewpoint just makes Liberals increasingly irrelevant too.

Maybe the answer isn't to accept that Quebec is a nation within a country the way Rae, Dion and Ignatieff do (you know, the ones who actually got some votes in Quebec last weekend). Maybe there is another vision. But speaking in terms of the old "Trudeau" vision just doesn't make sense and his federalism by ramming the federal government into every nook and cranny of provincial jurisdiction just pushes Quebecers even more to the Bloc or Conservatives.

It's like debating whether candidates agree or disagree about whether Trudeau was right or wrong to bring in wage and price controls.

10/04/2006 3:36 p.m.  
Blogger Altavistagoogle a dit...

Can you please changed the font to something bigger. Thanks.

10/04/2006 3:53 p.m.  
Blogger A BCer in Toronto a dit...

Ted said: Nice try Manitoba Liberal. Rae and Dion hold the same view of Quebec as Ignatieff and the rest of the Quebec caucus.

Except Iggy wants to reopen the constitution, Stephane doesn't and Bob decided to say he doesn't either.

10/04/2006 3:57 p.m.  
Blogger Kyle Carruthers a dit...

I agree with CG Antonio--this is a fair analysis. You are basically just adding a little more perspective to what I wrote the other day on my own blog.

But I really dont see the point in getting into a debate over the semantics of words like "nation" and "distinct society". I really don't see anything positive that emerges from these debates. Words like "nation" defy definition. Usually when two people disagree over whether something is a "nation; their disagreement has more to do with the definition of that word than the facts on the ground. What Liberals should really be focusing on is what federalist arrangement is best for governing this country and recognizing its differences--and in that I think we have a lot more common ground. Debates over words like "nation" accomplish nothing and leave everyone with a bitter taste in their mouth.

10/04/2006 3:58 p.m.  
Blogger Cerberus a dit...

"Decided to say he doesn't"

I like that. Mind if I use it?

I agree about Dion, BCer. I wasn't trying to mask that. He has a very different solution about what to do about formally recognizing Quebec that way. But the old "Trudeau vision" doesn't even connect with the realities of what Quebecers are saying.

Trudeau says Quebec is not distinct so why recognize it in any way, that just fuels the separatists.

Dion, Rae and Ignatieff say whether you like it or not, that it is a fact that Quebec is quite distinct and in fact meets all definitions of a nation. Let's admit reality so we have some credibility with Quebecers (and Dion proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that, despite the naysayers, he has loads of credibility in Quebec) and then talk about what we are or are not going to do.

Big difference.

10/04/2006 4:07 p.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

A bit of clarification

85% of Quebecers think Quebec is a nation

as for distinct society, there are no numbers but I suspect it is higher.

As for the constitutional position, Rae and Dion`s position is RIDICULOUS because they say Quebec is a nation but do not want to recognize it, which is a copout, and frankly, quite insulting to Quebecers.

10/04/2006 4:11 p.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

Let's not forget, that this weekend's vote was from Liberal supporters and not the general electorate, who will be much more hostile to the Rae and Dion position of all talk and no action.

10/04/2006 4:13 p.m.  
Blogger Cerberus a dit...

Don't be so hard on Rae, Antonio. Who knows, he could change his position on this fundamental issue yet again.

10/04/2006 4:32 p.m.  
Blogger DivaRachel a dit...

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10/04/2006 5:54 p.m.  
Blogger DivaRachel a dit...

Je comprends ta position, mais je ne suis pas 100% d'accord. J'espère que la présence de Gérard augmentera. Même il boite en français, si les québécois sont capables de voir plus loin que ca, ils vont voir en GK un grand homme.

D'ailleurs, Harper a appris le français -- mais il ne fait que vous mentir dans votre langue maternelle.

10/04/2006 5:55 p.m.  
Blogger WestmountLiberal a dit...

"Let sleeping dogs lie".
Why in God's name does the Liberal Party wants to restart an old conflict? To elect Andre Boisclair as Premier of Quebec?
Most Canadians, including Quebecois recongize that Quebec is a nation within the Canadian state. Adding to a legal document is no longer relevant.
Let's move on to more important issues facing Canadians.

10/04/2006 6:08 p.m.  
Blogger anna yanuk a dit...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/04/2006 6:39 p.m.  
Blogger anna yanuk a dit...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/04/2006 6:41 p.m.  
Blogger anna yanuk a dit...

Savoir la langue est quelque chose importante, mais aussi les ideés... on a vu ce fin-de-semaine que Kennedy n'est pas le candidat favori pour devenir chef du PLC. Oui, je sais qu'il est à la troisième position comme Dion, mais sa puissance n'existe pas au Québec. On a vu la même chose avec Rae à l'Ontario. On a besoin to quelqu'un avec d'appui national, pas régional... c'est la seule manière de régler les problèmes qui existent encore dans le parti.

C'est mieux penser bien à travailler ensemble au lieu de fracturer le parti encore plus... les blessures causés par Chretien et Martin sont encore la.

10/04/2006 6:43 p.m.  
Blogger anna yanuk a dit...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/04/2006 6:46 p.m.  
Blogger jnpliberal a dit...

I have never seen so much discussion about a candidate's position when the candidate hasn't officially stated a position. Of course, no partisan motives, I'm sure!

Kennedy is quoted in the Toronto Star as having no problem with Quebec being recognized as a nation.

10/04/2006 7:14 p.m.  
Blogger Sinestra a dit...

Antonio, are you denying that the machines had nothing to do with this. I'd suggest combining the impact of the machines and the perceived lack of French of GK, KD and SB and you might get somewhere. The nation argument is a non-starter. Nice job trying to court GK, btw.

10/04/2006 7:24 p.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...


didnt you read what I wrote, the organizers didnt choose him because he didnt speak French, thus no machine.

Organizers want someone who can win. Having positions in line with Quebecers makes things easier for organizers to sell.

As for the Toronto Star, I saw it and GK's position has changed, but is different than rae and Dion's in that Gerard does not think it is a major concession.

He also does not say it is too hard. I will ask him myself.

10/04/2006 7:49 p.m.  
Blogger Sinestra a dit...

The organisers didn't choose him because they chose their candidates a long, long time ago. I think certain campaigns have been slagging off the non-fluently bilingual candidates much more than necessary. To listen to some people, you'd think none of them speak a word of French. Learning French may take time, but it's doable. What's not doable is offloading political and polarising baggage in order to win the country.

10/04/2006 8:07 p.m.  
Blogger grit heart a dit...

New Font is very good. Much easier to read your blog.

10/04/2006 9:12 p.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...


did we figure you out?

10/04/2006 10:06 p.m.  
Blogger James Bowie a dit...

DSM's are over. The time for knocking other candidates is over.

10/04/2006 11:03 p.m.  
Blogger Sholdice a dit...

Quebec is not a nation. Quebec is a province within Canada. It doesn't matter what 85% think.

Unless you recognize that, you'll never know the reason why Ignatieff will lose.

10/04/2006 11:17 p.m.  
Blogger Double Infidel a dit...

Does anyone remember why Trudeau shot down distinct status? Anyone? Not because it 'fuels the separatists'. Because it would enshrine a principle in the constitution that has to be interpreted by the judiciary every single time they go to court demanding erosion of federal powers.

Sure '95 scared us all shitless and made Meech look like a godsend in retrospect -- that doesn't make its 'reforms' any less dangerous to consider today. How many separatists, for instance, would be sitting in the senate right now had no one stood up and pointed out it's always been the PM's job to say no to the provinces, even if it meant walking away from the table?

Ask a hundred Québecois if they're distinct or special, and we're lucky to still have fifteen of them see through the question. Once upon a time there was a leader here who put principles before pandering, got pilloried and disowned by the pure laine establishment, and still increased his Québec vote over five consecutive elections, because he led and knew where the hell he was taking us.

It's popular today to forget how lousy our other alternatives were. If we're officially throwing up our hands and giving in on distinctness/nationhood because we irretrievably lost leadership on the issue to the separatists, fine. If we're turning around and saying the status quo is riskier than a constitutional knife to the throat, fine. But can we quit talking like it's some kind of bone we can throw Québec and then forget about?

10/04/2006 11:26 p.m.  
Blogger cat mutant a dit...


Yea, let me use my astute powers of obersvation on you... I believe you don't support Iggy and I believe you don't care what 85% of Quebecers think... now who are you supporting?

I just want to have an idea, since it would be interesting to know what candidate you support who shares the same opinion as yours that doesn't care what 85% of Quebecers think.

10/05/2006 9:01 a.m.  
Blogger cat mutant a dit...


Also, I'm intrigued that you know the reason why Iggy will loose...

WOW, Fuddle-Duddle has it's very own psychic!

Please enlighten us with your vision of Iggy loosing at the Montreal convention. I think we're all interesting in learning who will win, how the weather will be like that weekend, and if there will be enough snow in Mont Tremblant for me to go skiing. Please tell!

10/05/2006 9:04 a.m.  
Blogger Hammering Jow a dit...

But, Ignatieff supports the Iraq war!

Surely that will be more harmful in Quebec come election time.

Iraq! Seriously guys, give your heads a shake.

10/05/2006 10:27 a.m.  
Blogger jnpliberal a dit...


I don't think Kennedy is blaming anyone for his Quebec results. Show the man some respect. Explaining why you didn't have a high result is different than blaming.
Same with his supporters. Some of the explanations are just factual, they are not blaming anyone.

Probably, the bigger question is if Kennedy was more well known in Quebec, would the DSM result be different? Obviously, those from The Kennedy Campaign would argue yes and I think it probably is a legitimate point.

10/05/2006 10:36 a.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

Kennedy is as thin as a wet paper towel. Why are you kissing his ass Antonio? To try to get second ballot support from his supporters. Many of them were manufactured and won't show in Montreal anyways. Not at three grand a head they won't. Only one of his delegates out of four in my riding are "real" and likely to show up. The other three are bullshit delegates that they are probably hoping to replace with people who will actually show up. I don't think they will be able to do it. Trust me I'd be surprise if half or his delegates showed. This is the only convention of any political party ever in Canada where people have had to pay this kind of money to attend. Even Rae paying natives to vote for him, which was known about a long time ago, btw. Will hae pay 3000 a head for them to come?? $20 for gas is one thing. The other money is questionable. Maybe the bands will pay for these delegates? We'll see who shows. Kennedy's percentage will be low, I assure you.

10/05/2006 11:21 a.m.  
Blogger jnpliberal a dit...


Since your latest hobby is bashing Kennedy you are hardly credible as a source of his policy statements.

He already made a statement to the Toronto Star on the "nation" question.

I am still waiting for your explanation as to why Dion bombed in Ontario at 10%. The Liberal Party has to dominate Ontario in an election in order to win. Dion doesn't seem to have the support.

10/05/2006 11:28 a.m.  
Blogger cat mutant a dit...


Kennedy's numbers might be low, but surely not as low as Dryden's... don't get me wrong, Dryden is a cool guy with good ideas, but his chances of becoming leader are pretty low.

On a side note, it's nice to hear from you, considering you've blocked all comments on your blog to avoid criticism over your latest unfounded accusation. How is that going? Any progress on that front, or was the complaint just thrown out in the trash, considering there is zero proof... oh but wait, you have the proof... yes ONLY YOU have the proof. That sure is credible evidence you got there. Good luck with that.

10/05/2006 11:32 a.m.  
Blogger Peter a dit...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/05/2006 11:38 a.m.  
Blogger Peter a dit...

Antonio, well written and I am in agreement with most of the content. Your assessment warrants a 1-on-1 with Gerard.

Plese note the 4 definitions of "nation" on dictionary.com:

1. a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own: The president spoke to the nation about the new tax.

2. the territory or country itself: the nations of Central America.

3. a member tribe of an American Indian confederation.

4. an aggregation of persons of the same ethnic family, often speaking the same language or cognate languages.

I am sure Gerard is in agreement with at least one of the above 4 definitions (in reference to Quebec). That may be the reason he is hesitant to use the word. It has too many definitions and thus his use of the word could be misinterpreted.

10/05/2006 11:39 a.m.  
Blogger The New Liberal Movement a dit...


Have you actually read any of my posts?!? Can you please identify one single line where I bash Kennedy? Criticism of the way his campaign was run in Quebec and his lack of visibility here is fair, and is what I did.

I never 'bashed' Kennedy as a person, or as a politician. His record speaks of itself, and a cursory glimpse of my posts will reveal the words I used to describe Kennedy as being "exceptional", "future Prime Minister", and "worthy of the support of the many I know who are currently supporting him".

Please, JNPLiberal, instead of just reading the title of a post and generalizing about its content, take the time to read through the post carefully, because your accusation is not fair.

I only have praise for Kennedy in my posts, both for his positions (except for his position on Quebec), and his personality.

So please take the time to actually READ the posts. Furthermore, I invite all here to do the same and tell me what you think.

10/05/2006 11:43 a.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

This convention is all about who will show. Dryden's support is real. His delegates will show. Granted its probably not enough, but people with "manufactured" support will see their numbers go down at convention. My MP couldn't even be bothered to vote for Kennedy, even though she declared her support for him. I would place a $100 bet that MP is a no show in Montreal, far less his other delegates.

It will be very interesting to see who shows up.

10/05/2006 11:49 a.m.  
Blogger Aristo a dit...

I still have problems witht eh idea of Quebec as a nation, but I will defer to your knowledge of Quebec politics.
I still wonder though how you feel about the fact that recognizing Quebec as a nation means we NEVER win a seat in Alberta.
Alberta conception of Canada as a country does not allow for Quebec to be a nation.
Albertans will never agree that Quebec is a nation. To a lesser extent it is true in Sask and BC.
In English a nation is a particular thing, and that is something Quebec is not.
What can we do about this dilemma?

10/05/2006 11:50 a.m.  
Blogger Steve V a dit...

Interesting and civil discussion, until a bitter Dryden support showed up and started spewing venom around. Man, that gets old fast.

10/05/2006 2:29 p.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

Hey Steve Valeriote, add a real comment. Venon? what are you talking about. My Mp didn't vote, publicly supported Kennedy and probably won't show in Montreal. His support in my riding was completely manufactured and three members of the same family were elected as his delegates because someone from Toronto came and told them what to do. Do you really thinkk they are showing up in Montreal? No they aren't. We will see who shows up.

10/05/2006 3:09 p.m.  
Blogger cat mutant a dit...

Shoshana, you've got a point, but I'd like to ask you who has "manufactured" support?

I'm pretty sure the answer is Iggy, right?

Care to expand on what "manufactured" support means? I hope you won't claim that it's all the young people who are "paid" to support Rae of Iggy, as you have previously stated, because that is an insult to many people.

Of course, Dryden's support isn't "manufactured", especially in the Winnipeg area.

10/05/2006 3:40 p.m.  
Blogger cat mutant a dit...

And why have you restricted all comments on your blog? Just curious.

10/05/2006 3:46 p.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

Well cat mutant, a lot of the candidates have "manufactured" support. I would say that Antonio's story about the italian ladies coming down to vote with lists in their hands of who they were told to vote for is manufactured. Paying native bands to support you en masse is "manufactured" support. Having people vote when they don't know anything about who is running or even what political Party they are voting for because someone came from Toronto and told their whole "cultural" community how to vote and they were doing what their husband told them to do, is manufactured. What isn't manufactured is calling members to ask if they have any questions about when and where the poll is, whether or not they need a ride. Selling general memberships as part of a membership drive regardless of whom they support.

Manufactured support manipulates the vote, non-manufactured support is real political organizing that benefits the entire Party, not just one candidate.

Does Ignatieff have manufactured support? Yes to a certain extent. Is it as blatent as Rae's, Volpe's or Kennedy's, no. He had a very large organization that worked the longest, well before the race was even declared, to gain him support.

Soft support is not the same as manufactured support. I think some of Ignatieff's support is soft and certainly made up of a lot of instant Liberals. Instant Liberals aren't necessarily what I mean by manufactured, but I think they are less likely to show up in December. however, Ignatieff's strenght in Montreal and within driving distance, gives him an advantage in that area.

Manufactured support is what I call bullshit support. Suport that someone else has manufactured through a cultural community or through fraud, not the actual person voting.

10/05/2006 4:09 p.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

cat mutant, you can e-mail me and I will post your comments.

After my last post about deposits for delegates a young man e-mailed me and said that 8 "manufactured" candidates in his riding were elected who had no intention of going to Mtl. and displaced real volunteering dedicated Liberals.

He didn't want his comments posted but he completely agreed with me. Manufactured support and delegates is harmful to the party. it prevents real dedicated Liberals from participating. It loses us elections, where as a genuine membership drive should gain us support. This sort of behaviour actually turns people off, makes us look corrupt and losses us volunteers and elections.

10/05/2006 4:25 p.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

I'm not sure his riding is typical, but if two thirds of the delegates don't show, a) this is anybody's game still and b) it will hurt the Party a lot both financially and PR wise.

Just a thought.

10/05/2006 4:30 p.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

And oh yeah, I voted for two Ignattieff delegates two Dion delegates and one Rae delegate because they actually showed up and put in the time and were from the riding.

10/05/2006 5:04 p.m.  
Blogger Dan McKenzie a dit...

Ummm pretty much any one who is trying to win will hand out mock ballots to their supporters to tell them how to vote with the most effectiveness for a given candidate.

And I haven't actually heard many cases of sitting MPs showing up to vote at DSMs.

10/05/2006 5:22 p.m.  
Blogger Manitoba Liberal a dit...

Dryden's Manitoba support is mostly from a few ethnic groups as well.

I doubt they will bother to pay to go to the convention now.

10/05/2006 5:58 p.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

It depends on how those cultural communities were organized Manitoba Liberal. And voting sheets should be banned and aren't used by all candidates. And yeah Mp's vote in their DSM's unless they don't care. Our MPP showed up.

10/05/2006 6:17 p.m.  
Blogger cat mutant a dit...

Sorry to say, but this manufacturing is seen everywhere... no democracy is immune.

In a perfect world it wouldn't exist, but we're all human (except for me... the cat part) so expect human falabilities to show up in the democratic process.

I'm not excusing it, just stating that it is here to stay for as long as people act like people.

10/05/2006 10:26 p.m.  

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