The Liberal Party's would-be next great philosopher king has finally unveiled his policy platform. And he's just lost Quebec and the isolationalist left in his party with it, and added another level of confusion to the constitutional debate:
Quebec does not need any more powers and Ottawa should not damage its capacity to bind the nation together by handing over tax powers to the provinces, Liberal leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff said yesterday.
Although his new platform states that Quebec should be recognized as a "nation," as should aboriginal nations, in a Canada that is a "multinational state," Mr. Ignatieff made it clear that he believes Ottawa's power cannot be eroded.
"What you see is that Quebec has all the powers necessary to make its society flourish and grow," he said after a Toronto rally to mark the release of his platform, titled Agenda for Nation Building.
Mr. Ignatieff also defended his staunch support of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, an issue that has divided the party and leadership candidates. But he called for Canada to press for more reconstruction efforts and said the "tipping point" that would force Canada to withdraw is if its troops there lost the "hearts and minds" of Afghans.
"You have to get the security situation under control, so at any one given moment you may be investing more in the military than in reconstruction. But I've made it clear that this has to be a balanced mission.
"I think it is generally admitted that the international community has not invested enough in the reconstruction and humanitarian components. There's no question this is a weakness of the mission that has to be addressed. And Canada has to step up and say let's get this done."
Calling Canada a multinational state raises connotations of other failed multinational states, such as the Russian Empire (a reach back into the old family history, Mike?), the Soviet Union, Austria-Hungary, and Yugoslavia. As a definition of Canada, it's even more divisive than multicultural, because nation suggests a people with a right to self-determination and dismemberment of Confederation.
Yet at the same time, he intends to maintain a strong central government through continued meddling in provincial jurisdiction through the federal spending power. Effectively, his constitutional master plan would create the worst of both worlds.
And while he talks common sense about Afghanistan, he's trying to lead a party where a good many members are no less naive, and sometimes malicious, than the mainstream of the NDP.
Does Ignatieff have the chops to become the next Pierre Trudeau, God forbid?
The early betting says no.
Source: Globe and Mail