Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Harper's "nationalism"....

The whole "vendu" thing with the Tory ad from February attacking Dion as a "sellout" of Quebec's ambitions has got me thinking about Prime Minister Harper's "nationalism" and how he views this country. I think the bigger question about the characterization of Dion as a "vendu" is not whether or not it is dirty pool, but what it says about Tory plans for Quebec (and for Canada).

If Dion is not to be trusted because he "sold out" Quebec's nationalist ambitions with his strong federalist stances, then isn't the implication that Harper can be trusted to NOT sell out their nationalist ambitions? The implication of the ad, it seems to me, is that when Dion is asked "Canada or Quebec" he "sells out" by choosing Canada, whereas Harper will say "Quebec".

How will Harper, a supposed "federalist" acheive this? It would seem to me he'll do it by so de-centralizing the country that Quebeckers no longer feel the need to separate, because they'll already be quite separate enough, the federal government having been transformed into a revenue transfer agency for the provinces, with an army (and the Prime Minister into Tax-collector in Chief, and Minister of Defence). Dion is a federalist who believes in a strong, united Canada, with national goals, and national ambitions. Harper, I think, is a "federalist" who believes the provinces should be primary, and that the "nation" is just a means of keeping the autonomous province-states together for projects such as national defence.

I think Harper plans to destroy Quebec nationalism by giving Quebec nationalists so much of what they've always wanted that only the most die-hard rump of nationalist sentiment will remain. He'll make the federal government so meaningless to Quebecekers (and all of us really) and give all the provinces so much autonomy that "separation" would be truly meaningless, and nothing more than a symbolic gesture. Once all the provinces are essentially independent, there'll be no reason for Quebeckers to ask for independence. Canada will have effectiely become the "Canadian Union", an E.U. on a smaller scale, made up of smaller "nations" with a common defence force. Mario Dumont's going to get his "autonomy" without even having to work for it.

I think Harper's plan is to "stand up for Canada" by transforming the nation into a loosely connected confederation of autonomous self-governing states.

He's going to save the village by burning it down.

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