It is really an unfortunate sight to see the national unity of our country being played like a card in the hand of the eternal poker match of partisan bickering. Liberals and New Democrats are trying to gain street cred in Quebec and elsewhere for their views on federalism, forgetting the all-important fact that they are both federalists and their true opponents – well – are the separatists.
This article is in response to Megan Leslie’s article on the National Post touting the New Democrats position, stating that they were above the divisiveness that has dogged the national unity question in the past. Liberal Senators from Nova Scotia have responded promptly, decrying the New Democrats’ position on the issue as self-interested.
Sadly, both parties have illustrated divisiveness and self-interest with regards to these articles in specific, and with regards to their policies on the matter in general.
Indeed as the parties bicker back and forth, Quebec separatists at home are gleeful at the division among parties of the opposition at the federal level. They are holding their own conventions and conferences to unite the three provincial separatist parties in a campaign to convince Quebecers that sovereignty is the answer. As a matter of fact, the Congrès de la convergence nationale is taking place this weekend at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Together, the provincial parties are building a marketing machine to convince Quebecers that “the Rest of Canada does not have Quebec’s values,” and that “Federalism costs Quebecers.” Case in point, the PQ is set to table a secular ‘Charter of Quebec Values’ this fall. Furthermore, Pauline Marois has released advertisements in which she highlights Canada and Quebec’s differing core values by stating that the rest of Canada believes in the “Queen and the Military”.
Although the PQ, the Option Nationale, and Québec Solidaire have major policy differences, and even diverge on how to go about seceding from Canada, they understand the value and use of the saying ‘United we stand, divided we fall’ (which is ironic, when one thinks that this is also what federalists say when encouraging Quebec not to separate from Canada).
Will federalist parties only unite when a referendum is called? Will they only start working together to remind Quebecers of the benefits of federalism and the joys of being Canadian after it is too late?
This is a recipe for disaster.
Albeit there are very strong policy differences between the Liberals and the NDP as well. The parties need not cooperate electorally, or even, gasp – merge; but when it comes to the national unity question, for the good of the country, both parties can find benefit in bringing to the public eye issues that unite rather than divide the country.
Instead of speaking in hypotheticals about a referendum vote, or about ‘vieilles chicanes’ and battles in London, why don’t both parties launch a campaign celebrating shared Canadian values, culture and historical achievements? It will help restore a sense of Canadian pride in Quebecers that might have been lost along the way.
So do this for your country, New Democrats and Liberals: set aside the quick shots and petty politics that will only serve minimal good in the next election and fight for a more united Canada – together.
– Toufic Adlouni