Monday, December 19, 2005

Who Speaks For Canada?

Respecting Quebec's proper constitutional jurisdiction is one thing. Letting it take over federal jurisdiction is quite another. And few matters of federal jurisdiction should be as carefully guarded as that of foreign relations:

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is promising more funding and autonomy for Quebec, saying his government would allow the province to play a greater international role in culture and language.

"A Conservative government will offer a complete departure from the approaches of both the federal Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois," Harper said Monday on an election campaign visit to Quebec City.

Harper would allow Quebec to increase its presence on the world stage. He said the province would be able to represent itself at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

He pointed out that Quebec already participates in the Francophonie Summit of French-speaking nations.

"I don't think that's proven to be a difficulty. I think it's had quite the opposite effect. I think it's proven that Quebec can express that side of its nature, that distinctiveness without having any necessary recourse to sovereignty."

Participation in UNESCO and La Francophonie meetings might be irrelevant to the day-to-day lives of Quebecois and Canadians. But they matter very much to their member governments, for they are organizations of equal, sovereign states.

Allowing Quebec to participate in a UN body as an independent member, equal to Canada and to any other member nation, is an admission that Quebec should be treated as a sovereign state, and can act entirely without reference to Canadian interests in advancing its own.

If Quebec is allowed this privilege in matters relating to Francophone culture, why shouldn't other provinces be extended the same privilege in matters uniquely suited to them?

For example, Alberta could have its own seat in the International Energy Agency , while Newfoundland and Nova Scotia could have their own membership in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization , while Ontario could use its dominance in the Canadian financial sector to qualify itself for the International Monetary Fund.

Very quickly, other nations would start bypassing the federal government and dealing directly with the provinces on matters within the proper sphere of sovereign states at international law.

Canada would become a shell government very quickly, and the provinces de facto independent states, if not quite de jure .

Before we can speak as one voice on the world stage, we have to leave our internal sqaubbling at home. No sovereign state, even a decentralized federation, can have its constituent provinces or states running off in all directions.

Only one voice can stand up for Canada, or none will.

Source: CBC


Myrddin Wyllt said...

If Ottawa is not the voice of the provincial will, then the Provinces should seek a greater voice.
Everything belongs to the people of the respective provinces, Not Ottawa, they own squat.
Do you allow someone else to make your decisions?
Read the Constitution, Ottawa has for years weakened Canada through the usurption of Provincial powers.
Ask yourself, are we a more or less fractured country today than we were before 1968 when the constitution was still respected by Ottawa.

Loyalist said...

Usurpation of provincial powers won't be relieved by usurping federal powers.

If the provinces want to be independent actors in foreign policy, they should secede from Canada first.

The feds encroach on the provinces far too much, but allowing the provinces to set their own foreign policy would make an even bigger farce of the constitutional division of powers and the legitimacy of Canada as a sovereign state into question.

Brian Lemon said...

Only thing I would add, is that the Provinces couldn't possible bollocks up our foreign policy as badly as Martin, Graham and Pettigrew have.

Oh, and one other thing:
Their only, and I repeat only, purpose for a foreign policy is to win domestic votes - ie immigration policy to win over new Canadians, spitting at the USA to win over USA haters, Middle East policy to win over Islamic voters.