Monday, November 27, 2006

Kennedy shows true leadership

The following statement was released by Gerard Kennedy today:

I cannot support the Harper-Duceppe motion currently before the House.

The Prime Minister's responsibility is to protect the constitution and the unity of the country. This motion does neither. It is wrong for Canada.

The motion creates an unmistakable expectation by giving official legitimacy to the "idea" of nation, without defining it. This is an irresponsible step, as there has never been greater need for honest dialogue between Quebecers and the rest of Canadians. Rather than improving national unity, the motion will exacerbate divisions and generate misunderstanding in Quebec and across Canada. It is for this reason that throughout this campaign I have consistently opposed the "officialization" of the notion of Quebec as a nation.

Canada is a united country that must be constantly defined by our common values and a shared purpose. The introduction of this resolution contradicts this need and instead sows division over uncertain symbols.

I respect the sense of identity shared by many Quebecers, reflecting a common culture, language, history and accomplishment and I will continue to promote that identity, rather than playing divisive political games with it. Further, this motion does nothing to recognize, and potentially takes away from, aboriginals, Acadians and other official minority groups with a distinct culture and heritage within Canada.

I deplore that anyone would use this as a wedge issue for political gain. As Liberals, we have to understand that there is no easy way to rebuild the party in Quebec but we must stay resolute in our vision for the entire country. I want Quebecers to know that as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada I will forge a common understanding of the best way for Quebecers and all Canadians to work together on our real challenges: globalization benefiting all families not just a few; an aging population and the growing divide between rural and urban regions.

Out of respect for the interim leader Bill Graham, I am not requesting that any caucus member supporting my candidacy change their vote to reflect my position.

Canadians will know that I do not feel bound by this vote or this process.

Before people say this is reflective of a candidate without a lot of support in Quebec who does not understand Quebec. This motion is opposed by both Justin Trudeau and Alexandre Trudeau and by Senator Serge Joyal, a Quebec minister in Trudeau's government and constitutional expert who has said it is a "dangerous, big mistake" which will create "more stress, more tension, more blackmail and less trust" and "open the door for additional claims for any other province to get something from the federal government".

Also, Maclean's has a perpetually updating thread on this that is worth checking out.

I hope you agree that Kennedy has done the right thing here and think that Liberals will view the same. If so, please go to CTV's site and vote on their question "How will Kennedy's opposition to the Quebec motion impact his chances at the Liberal convention?".

UPDATE: Apparently Michael Chong has resigned from the cabinet over the nation motion? He was one of my favourite ministers and also the guy in charge of provincial relations. If this is true, it is a very significant blow to those supporting the motion. Perhaps he'll cross the floor if Kennedy wins the leadership?

UPDATE 2: Ken Dryden has also come out against the motion... will he now endorse Gerard after the second ballot?


Anonymous said...

It takes guts and I think Kennedy has it. I hope Canadians take notice of it and so do the delegates at the convention. All the power to Kennedy.

nuna d. above said...

It's nice of Kennedy to stab Jean Charest in the back witht the PQ leading in the polls in Quebec. But what's the future of the country compared to one political hacks ego?

nbpolitico said...

nuna - not sure if I follow where you are going? Who is the political hack in your comment?

Anonymous said...

nuna d. above, If it is true that Jean Charest is behind it then who is he knifing? Whole of Canada.

nuna d. above said...

This could have been a one-day wonder, like Chretien passing the distinct society motion after the last Quebec referendum.

Instead, Kennedy gives the PQ ammo by trying to make it be about his leadership bid. Can you picture a Quebec election with the PQ running ads showing Chretien hugging Clyde Wells and Sharon Carstairs the day Meech died, saying nothing has changed?

Kennedy has insured that choosing him as leader would be a disaster for Canadian unity. Haven't Liberals noticed they haven't won the majority of Quebec ridings in 25 years?

nbpolitico said...

The Liberals have indeed not won a majority of ridings in Quebec since 1980 and I don't think that that is going to change any time soon.

However, it was Pierre Trudeau, a man who strongly opposed the designation of Quebec as a nation who last won a majority of seats there.

Quebeckers are not stupid and they will not fall for the parlour tricks that the BQ would try to use in the next election.

Gerard Kennedy is a principled man and Gerard Kennedy presents a progressive platform which is very much in sync with the majority of Quebeckers.

I watch the growing number of people coming out to support Kennedy's position on this - Michael Chong, minister responsible for provincial relations, Michael Bliss, Tom Axworthy, Sasha Trudeau, Warren Kinsella, etc, etc

scott said...

Coming out??? With all due respect, nbpolitico, Micheal Chong never said he made his final decision on the basis of Mr. Kennedy's decision to oppose the motion. Much like myself, he has taken a principled stance against this motion. A motion which his party [the conservatives] has stood firmly behind.

And unlike Kennedy, it has left him [Chong] in an unfavourable position where he now finds himself on the outside of cabinet looking in. As for Kennedy, it could mean the exact opposite in which he may find himself on the podium addressing delegates as the next Liberal leader of Canada. So trying to compare the two situations is impossible considering the end result could have such a different outcome for both individuals.

However, in regards to Chong, he still remains loyal to the leader of the party and its core principles.

Btw, I just don't see how that has anything to do with Chong supporting Kennedy? That is about as clear a statement as saying you oppose this motion which I'm not sure you do? Is that a fair statement?

nuna d. above said...

Trudeau won the majority of seats based on promising Quebec a new kind of federalism, then left Quebec feeling betrayed over the constituion, resulting in the current Liberal fortunes in Quebec.

Kennedy is practising the same kind of wedge politics Harper's critics accuse Harper of doing. Kennedy won't support his party or current leader, he only wants to pick off the delegates he needs. Mr One Percent then wants to go to Quebec and say "I've denied you what you want most, but I support same-sex marriage, don't you think I'm charming?"

nbpolitico said...

Coming out??? With all due respect, nbpolitico, Micheal Chong never said he made his final decision on the basis of Mr. Kennedy's decision to oppose the motion

I was merely trying to say that Kennedy was the first prominent politician to come out and take this stand and Chong followed. I don't think it is unfair to say that Chong supports Kennedy's position, much like it would be fair to say that Kennedy supports Chongs. They both have the same position: this motion is wrong for Canada.

for Kennedy, it could mean the exact opposite in which he may find himself on the podium addressing delegates as the next Liberal leader of Canada.

Maybe. I am not sure that this will work out for Kennedy or not. He has taken the right stand, but it is a risky stand. I have been confident for sometime that Kennedy would win the leadership and I even spelled out how that would happen. Right now I am not so sure. These are volatile times. Though Kennedy has the position that is most popular, the other three campaigns have 5 days to spin delegates one-on-one that Kennedy is out of touch with Quebec, can never win an election as a result, that the election of Kennedy as leader would result in the break up of the country, etc. I do not believe this spin, but others may. I believe Kennedy had it in the bag, now he may still win, but he may also have thrown it away. He did what was right, not neccessarily what would be best for his political success.

That is about as clear a statement as saying you oppose this motion which I'm not sure you do? Is that a fair statement?

Yes, I strongly oppose this motion.