Saturday, December 06, 2008

Forgotten Lessons

The Liberals and the NDP are far out of touch with most Canadians. Don't they remember the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown Accord disasters? 

Meech Lake, 1987, was designed to "bring Quebec into the constitution." 

Background: Canada was formed by way of the BNA Act, 1867, but it left the power to amend the Canadian constitution to the British Parliament. Trudeau changed this with the Constitution Act of 1982. The Canadian Constitution was patriated. The problem was that the Province of Quebec did not sign it. Since then Canada has a constitution defining our country to which one of the ten provinces did not sign on. Ever since then ways have been sought to bring Quebec in.

The first effort was the Meech Lake accord. To take effect, this accord needed unanimous ratification by all the Provincial legislatures. It received that except from Manitoba and Newfoundland. If there was one person responsible from bringing down Meech Lake, it was Elijah Harper (no relative of Stephen Harper), the Aboriginal Cree MLA in the Manitoba Legislature who refused to give his consent. He refused because, in his mind, Meech Lake gave away too much to Quebec and not enough to the Natives. The window of time for ratification by all the legislatures passed and so the Accord died.

Notwithstanding the filibuster of Elijah Harper, Meech Lake was despised by many Canadians. The clause defining Quebec as a "distinct society" was seen by most Canadians as putting Canada on a trajectory that would make Canada a confederation of unequals: Quebec would have more power, clout, rights, etc., than the other nine provinces. Put to a referendum, Meech Lake would likely have died.

Five years later the Charlottetown Accord, 1992, was hammered out by the federal and provincial ministers. This Accord devolved many federal powers to the provinces. As well it declared Quebec as a distinct society and made many concessions to Quebec. It also pledged the right to self-government for the Natives. 

It was agreed upon by all the federal parties, all the premiers of the provinces and the territories, and almost all of the Canadian media (this was pre-National Post). In other words, the "elite" of Canada said we needed this.

Canadians were of another mind. The difficulties Canadians had with Meech Lake giving Quebec special status were confirmed with the Charlottetown Accord. Added to that, Canadian were very nervous about pledging self-governance to the Natives without any proper definition of what that meant. Canadians saw this as putting Canada on a trajectory towards dissolution. It was not often that I agreed with Pierre Elliot Trudeau, but I did when he said that with the Charlottetown Accord, Canada would die with a whimper.

The Charlottetown Accord was put to a national referendum, and, to the shock and surprise of the politicoes and the intelligentsia, it was soundly defeated. 

Canadians want Canada to function as a confederation of ten equal provinces. They do not want to give special status to one province. This is why Canadians are, at present, so roundly supporting Stephen Harper and the Tories. Check the polls. 

The Liberal Party and the NDP have forgotten the lessons of history. These two parties have formed a coalition with the support of the Bloc Quebecois (BQ). The BQ raison d'etre is to pull Quebec out of confederation and so to dismantle the country. The BQ is only content to have Quebec stay in if the money keeps flowing from the federal coffers to Quebec. They are willing to support the coalition so long as it helps their cause. 

Meech Lake, Charlottetown Accord, Liberal-NDP Coalition supported by the BQ: Most Canadians have always and will always reject such accords fearing they will lead to the dissolution of our country. Stephen Harper is standing firm for Canada. Canadians are standing behind Mr. Harper.

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