Monday, December 1, 2008

My Canada includes Quebec, s'il vous plait!

Today's news conference with the new coalition triumvirate illustrated that social democrats can work together on specific principle-based issues. The presence of Gilles Duceppe was critical.

In each of the last elections, M. Duceppe has invariably impressed me in the debates. I dispute him on the separatism issue but I have respect for his ability to represent the voters in Quebec. The BQ MPs work hard to represent their constituents and these MPs have agreed to support this coalition until June 2010 with possible renewal beyond that time.

In my opinion, the most profound indication of M. Duceppe's capacity as a respectful political servant of the people was during the last election campaign. On the day that ConTV aired those exceptionally unethical re-runs of the tapes from M. Dion's Halifax interview, it was M. Duceppe who denounced this treatment of a fellow politician. Despite their vast differences on the issue of federalism, I believe it is entirely possible for M. Dion and M. Duceppe to regard and to treat each other with respect while they both serve Canada and Quebec. These two are men with an emotional maturity and capacity that Steven Harper has been incapable of illustrating tp Canadians in all his years as a politician.

I believe that Canada must include Quebec and we should heartily encourage the involvement of the BQ in the Liberal/NDP coalition to the extent that each party can still hold true to its principles. The BQ are very much on the left of the political spectrum on many social and financial issues. Quebeckers, are generally, more socially left than the rest of Canada. This coalition will benefit from their involvement. Canada will be better served by this coalition than by the current government. This means we need to get beyond the unfamiliarity of this situation.

This is a new way of politics for Canadians but many democracies have been working this way for a long time. Stephane Dion showed a capacity for bringing disparate forces together in the Montreal Climate Change conference in 2006 and in the way he handled the Elizabeth May situation. Different, but diplomatic and mature. If we had a different voting system, such as a form of proportional representation, we would likely have to develop many new ways of working together while still being able to compete on principle-based platforms during elections. Prime Minister Dion may be the best person to show us the way.

Yes, this is different but isn't this also the best opportunity that we've ever had to show Quebec and Quebeckers that we respect them and their ideas as part of Canada. Isn't it long past time we stopped fearing the BQ and tried to understand their point of view on the many shared principles that we have?

As Duceppe said today in reply to the question about Harper pulling a rabbit out of a hat to hang on to government, "Canada doesn't need a magician, it needs leaders."

If we stick with Steven Harper, each Canadian family will shiver in the dark all alone through this storm worrying if their pension will be there or if EI benefits will help them through a period of lay-off. Today, Stephane Dion, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe together offered forward thinking leadership for all Canadians, including Quebeckers. With this team, Canadians will have direction for facing the economic storm together. It won't be easy but the leadership is now available to show the way.

It's the We versus Me situation. When the storm clouds are gathering, I prefer to know that we'll all be helping or watching out for each other through the storm. Let's include Quebec and the BQ in Canada to work through this storm together. They need us and we need them. Let's pick the "We" team!

7 comments:

Janet said...

Speaking of Elizabeth May, it's really too bad she didn't get into the House in October's election, as we'd then have the benefit of her brain in this coalition gov't.

Deb Prothero said...

Ah, Janet, how right you are! Wouldn't she be a treat to listen to in Question Period?

Galen said...

I'm sorry, but you honestly have no idea what this coalition will do to the economy. We will be farther in debt then ever due to funding provided to Quebec to keep the Bloq on side and funding provided to the auto (and other) industries in order to protect over paid union jobs.

The big three auto makers have proven that their business model is not viable through poor decisions and losses even during good economic times. This is mostly due to the union jobs that people are wanting to protect. I can almost guarantee you that if the auto industry is provided funding they will still continue to reduce their workforces in Canada in order to reduce costs over the long run.

This coalition government does not have the answer, they see a chance to make a grab for power and buy votes.

Deb Prothero said...

Galen;

You are entitled to your opinion.

I disagree with you entirely on the issue of union wages. The fault of the auto industry has been its inability to provide a vehicle that North Americans want to buy.

The wages for the assembly of one car amount to about $325 compared with hundreds spent on marketing per vehicle.

As for buying off the BQ, I don't believe that is in the cards. The BQ is interested in money for forestry and manufacturing as is Ontario. Steven Harper spent billions in Quebec, more than any other government trying to buy his majority.

With this signed agreement, I believe that we will have a stable arrangement until June 30 of 2010, at least. It won't be easy for this coalition to work but it will be better than wasting another $300 million on another election and I believe the leaders and parties are committed to the process.

Galen said...

First off thank you for approving my post, I appreciate it.

There is still a fairly significant gap between the big three and other auto makers. In 2006 the average hourly wage for the big three was $70 plus an hour and Toyota, Honda, Nissan in North America was $48 per hour. This translated into about $2.3k per card incurred by the big three (strictly building the car).

I do agree that the big three have made poor business decisions and how do we know that they will not continue too. It was asked of the CEO of GM, whether he would give up his bonus and part of his wage if the funding goes through and he said "no". This means funding will be provided to continue bonuses for individuals that have created a defunk business model.

As for the lumber industry in Quebec, this exists across Canada, not just Quebec. The main issue is soft wood tariffs by the US and competition by low cost producers. The issues are not going to be resolved by throwing money into the industry. Any money used to help the industry needs to make their business model more viable. It will be difficult to fix the soft wood tariffs issue due to a more protectionist movement by the US.

I know the Conservatives spent Billions in Quebec in order to try to obtain a majority, but they also spent Billions in other parts of Canada to try to obtain their majority. They also ran a balanced budget and would have continued to do so, although with spending cuts in the current year due to the economy.

It will be interesting to see what the provinces' responses are to this coalition government. Especially provincial governments in the West.

Deb Prothero said...

Galen;

Not sure where you get your $ figures for the hourly wages of auto assembly workers. At the Ford Assembly Plant here in St. Thomas, the average wage is $28 per hour. I believe that this is similar to the Cami plant at Ingersoll and the Toyota plant at Cambridge.

Is it possible that other costs are thrown into these figures that you are quoting? Are the comparisons apples to apples?

I don't believe that this coalition government will make foolish investments and just throw money around.

Across Canada, the forestry industry can be assisted to modernize their facilities and by assisting them to find new markets other than the US.

There is little evidence that Jim Flaherty could produce real numbers that would prove he balanced a budget. I would never trust his numbers and the FU package he presented last week was predicated on false assumptions that gave a rosier picture than is realistic. To say that Canada will not be in deficit next year is just plain foolish, in my opinion and to cut spending at this time is even more heartily foolish and laughable.

I will bet that the provinces on the have-not side of the ledger will be very displeased by the reductions in transfers while the have provinces will no doubt be pleased.

Divide and conquer is a common tactic by right-wing politicians which was prevalently displayed in the FU. Beat up on civil servants, deny women pay equity, decimate the opposition parties. None of this does Canadians any good and all it did was stroke Steven Harper's mean streak to the detriment of his party, his own reputation and the country. The only good achieved was the uniting of the left in this country to get rid of him once and for all.

penlan said...

Hi Deb!

You wrote:
" The BQ MPs work hard to represent their constituents and these MPs have agreed to support this coalition until June 2010 with possible renewal beyond that time."

Exactly! The BQ is concerned for their different industries in Quebec that are losing jobs, etc. They are looking out for the welfare of their constituents - as it should be. Separation is not even a talking point at this time & hasn't been for a long time now.

And Duceppe has had excellent ideas that would help ALL of Canada not only Quebec, & he knows it. And he wants it! He doesn't want to see any person in this country go through hardship. He's human too as well as the rest of the MP's in the Bloc, unlike Harper & the Cons. Yes, there is the sovereigntist ideology but
they are able to rise above that ideology for the real needs of the people, especially at this dire economic time.

I was raised, for the most part, in Quebec & love Quebeckers & the province as well. And I do understand where the Bloc is coming from. I don't have to agree with separation but I do know that Quebeckers need to be heard & understood better, something which has been sorely lacking in the rest of the country.

I also hope that if we get our coalition that May will be appointed to the Senate. She has much to offer.