Thursday, December 08, 2005

Who Speaks For Us?

Today's National Post raises a point that no one else has asked the Liberals about their claims that only they can defend national unity:

Canadians might worry about the possibility of electing a Conservative government with no MPs -- and perhaps no Cabinet representation -- from Quebec. And second, they may fear the possibility of a Conservative-Bloc Quebecois alliance manipulated by the separatist party to suit its goals.

Neither of these concerns holds up to scrutiny. On the first count, there is no reason the Conservatives could not draw Quebec Cabinet ministers from their Senate caucus if needed. And even if they did not, consider that there is a very real possibility that after the election the Liberals themselves will lack any MPs from the province of Alberta. Has anyone advanced the argument that this is a reason for the rest of the country to vote against them?

This has already happened with Liberal governments from 1972-1979 and 1980-1984. They managed to govern from 1997-2000 with no Nova Scotia MPs either, and at no time did the media speculate about Alberta's or Nova Scotia's alienation from the country.

But then, national unity has always been code for appeasing Quebec. Quebec will never be appeased, and people in Canada have lost patience with this neverending issue. The Conservatives could turn their weakness in Quebec into a strength, if it positioned itself as the voice of English-speaking Canada and its legitimate aspirations.

Who speaks for Quebec? We already know.
Who speaks for English Canada? No one right now.

The Tories can be, and need to be, that voice.

Somebody should.


Ian in NS said...

The 1980-1984 government was a particularly bad one: there were no Liberal MPs from British Columbia, Alberta, or Saskatchewan, and just two from Manitoba. What'd we get from it? The NEP, a constitution Quebec wouldn't sign, and a Charter of Rights that has turned us into a country effectively run by judicial fiat.

I think I'll take a government with no Quebec MPs over that, thanks.

No Fixed Address said...

The sharp contrast between regional representation was apparent after the 1997 election when the Globe and Mail opined that it was better for the Liberals to have lost seats in Atlantic Canada than in B.C. because B.C. mattered more. In other words, there are regions of the country where representation in the Commons is of prime importance and other regions that can go pound sand. For a governing party to lack representation in Quebec is dangerous and unthinkable, but for there to be no MPs from Alberta or NS -- no big deal. The threat of alienation or separatism is deeply worrying to the Ontario media when it comes from Quebec, but when murmurs of discontent or separatism are heard from the west the attitude switches to disdain. Can we say two-faced? (And I speak as a Nova Scotian, not an Albertan.)