Tell your Leader for me!

  Niagara Falls, Ontario,
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
by: Joe Hueglin
  “Symmetrical asymmetry” and “autonomy-association” are unfamiliar terms brought into usage since the side deal with Quebec on health care loosed a spate of speculation concerning Federal Provincial relationships.
  Quebec Premier Jean Charest has called the agreement "an important precedent". (1)
  Federal Heritage Minister Liza Frulla "seized upon the recent federal-provincial health deal's endorsement of " asymmetrical federalism" to suggest that Quebec Culture Minister Line Beauchamp could now speak on Canada's behalf at UNESCO." (2)
  Mario Dumont, leader of the Action démocratique has enunciated his party's policy of making Quebec "autonomous" within Canada, with its own, separate, constitution and his preparedness to act unilaterally. (3)
  The Liberal Government, though opposing Dumont’s autonomy association, is implementing power sharing where none has existed and considers side deals with the provinces as the new federalism.
That "we can't count on the opposition parties to stand up for a strong central government. The Bloc Quebecois is committed to breaking up the country altogether. The Conservatives campaigned in the last election for greater provincial powers. The New Democrats think they have gains to make in Quebec." (4) is a valid statement.
Stephen Harper and Jack Layton are both mute. Either oblivious to the shifting currents or, for whatever reasons, choosing to ignore them.
Those holding the opinion Canada is better served being viewed as a nation from sea to sea rather than as a collection of provinces are admonished to look up their MP's 'phone number and begin by saying "Tell your Leader for me!"
Why do this? Because in minority government situations Members of Parliament pay close attention to the views of those they'll soon be asking to re-elect them. And Leaders just may be swayed for the same reason.

Joe Hueglin

1. Gwyn, Richard, Martin is endangering unity, (pdf) September 26, 2004, The Toronto Star
2. National Post, From Quebec, two bad ideas, (pdf) September 25, 2004, the National Post
3. Gwyn, Richard, Martin is endangering unity, (pdf) September 26, 2004, The Toronto Star
4. Times Colonist. Provinces flex their muscles (pdf) September 25, 2004, The Victoria Times Colonist
Photo credit:    
Prime Minister Paul Martin and Quebec Premier Jean Charest September 16, 2004 from an image taken by REUTERS/Jim Young


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