Denis Lebel and the sovereignists

by Aaron Wherry

Denis Lebel’s dalliance with the Bloc Quebecois is now being detailed.

In a statement to Radio Canada he said he took out the membership in part to ingratiate himself with Michel Gauthier, a former Bloc leader who served as the area’s MP. SRC reported that Mr. Lebel was a member of the Bloc from July 1993 to April 2001 and that he also donated hundreds of dollars to the party during the 1990s.

Less than a week ago, Stephen Harper described Nycole Turmel’s similar run with the Bloc as “very disappointing.”




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Denis Lebel and the sovereignists

  1. Goodness no, it’s a different situation entirely. As soon as the talking points arrive, we shall all know just HOW it’s different.

    • Anyone with a basic grasp of logic should be able to see how different these situations are.  It’s not rocket science.

      • Yes, two former members of the Bloc, one who is the interim leader of the opposition and the other who is the Minister in charge of handing out ‘candies’ in Quebec. 

    • One is leading their party. One is not. Smugness fail.

      • “Smugness fail”.  I like that. 

      • And also Lebel’s past associations are further in the past.  However, it’s still also true that one is in the federal cabinet and one is not.  That’s not nothing either.

        • Why shouldn’t people formerly associated with separatist parties be in the federal cabinet?  If they are now federalists who are committed to Canadian unity, why is that a problem in any way?

          • It’s not a problem for me, but by simply , if you can replace “federal cabinet’ with “interim leader of the opposition’. Why shouldn’t they, indeed?

          • Have you been following this story at all? Do you understand why Turmel is being criticized by Stephane Dion, etc.?

          • For me, this is probably just my emotional reaction to the fact that there can now be such a thing as a “federalist Quebecois nationalist cabinet minister”.

  2. We have had 40 years of Rest of Canada having to pay danegeld to Quebec. Que federalists and separatists are all Que nationalists and act out good cop/bad cop routine. Whenever there is discussion about Que, it is always about what Rest of C can do for Quebecois. 

    Majority of people in Rest of Canada don’t like separatists yet our elite continue to play footsies with them. Quebecers have right to vote for whoever they wish but it does not mean other Fed parties have to deal with the separatists. Parties are normalizing movement that wants to break up Canada for their own political interests and no Fed party seems to stand for Canada as is anymore.

     

    ” …. reveals that as a youth and young man in the 1930s and early 1940s, Trudeau was no champion of democracy and individual freedoms. He was instead an ardent Quebec nationalist who, during the worst of the war years, admired fascist dictators, regarded reports of Nazi atrocities as British propaganda …..” 
    http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/citizensweekly/story.html?id=e72eeda6-6d2f-4586-8f28-822719408b23

    “In a five-page resignation letter to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Lucien Bouchard formally breaks ranks. Bouchard, federal Minister of the Environment, was well-known as a trusted supporter of Mulroney. But the release of a government report has turned allies into adversaries.”
    http://archives.cbc.ca/politics/constitution/clips/6494/

    Ottawa Citizen, Aug 2006:”The Bloc Quebecois, whose main goal is to achieve Quebec sovereignty, is dependent on Canadian taxpayers for its national funding … Benefiting from the federal political financing law, which was brought in by former prime minister Jean Chretien …. The revelation that more than 95 per cent of the sovereigntist party’s finances come from federal coffers has even irked some separatists.” 

    “In a historic political move, the leaders of the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc Quebecois signed a formal agreement Monday to topple the Tories and co-operate as a coalition government for at least 18 months.”

    http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20081130/conservative_budget_081201/

    • Or shorter: Hey everybody! Look over there! Please?

      • FYI, TonyAdams isn’t a Conservative, Thwim.  

        • Maybe not with a capital C, but you can’t be suggesting that Tony leans to the left, can you?  ‘Cause I think that might give him an aneurysm.

          • From what I gather, TonyAdams doesn’t like Harper and he refuses to vote Conservative.  I think he voted Libertarian in the last election. 

            TonyAdams is definitely far to the right of Harper on a lot of issues, including social issues.

            Thwim doesn’t seem to realize this, given his misplaced snark.  That’s why I was gently reminding him.

          • Where did I imply he was a conservative?

            Beyond that however, my comment was on his rather obvious attempt to redirect attention away from the substance of this article. What’s funny is that this was then followed up by you trying to pull attention away from how he’d been called out on doing exactly that.

          • @Thwim:disqus
            It’s too bad that you seem more interested in trying to impute people’s motives, rather than the substance of what they say.

            It’s asinine to accuse people of “redirecting attention”, like you’re doing here.

  3. Goodness gracious.

    And Dear Robot, defender of Canada’s deeply-held values, didn’t know about this? But no, that’s contrary to anti-regulatory principles: don’t monitor, expel whistleblowers, don’t keep track, don’t ask questions. Waste of time, waste of resources.

    Cut, trim, slash, downsize, outsource. Just let nature and Saint Adam Smith’s ‘guiding hand of providence’ do its magic work.

    Time to recalibrate yourself, Terminator.

  4. From this article: “A senior Conservative source said Tuesday morning that as Mr. Lebel is not head of the party a different argument would be applied….  So the Tory defence that is emerging is this: if you were once a separatist but are a lesser member of the team, you have less influence over party policy“.

    The Tories aren’t seriously going to go with: “That’s different!  Lebel’s not interim leader of an opposition party, he’s only a cabinet minister” as their defence, are they?

    • Ha!ha!  what next?  Harper admitting his cabinet ministers are nothing but muzzled puppets?

      But really, a Bloc member in the 90′s – how many elections ago was that?  5?  Sounds like something for the historians.

      • Fair point on that second sentence!  Pretty much every party has members who were separatists 10 years ago.  Then again, given that pretty much every party has members who were once separatists, it does call in to question all the furor  over an MP who claims to have NEVER been a separatist, but who nonetheless once took out membership in a separatist party.

        Given the plethora of federalist MPs in Parliament who once openly advocated for separation (including some who sat in Quebec provincial governments that were seeking to separate) it seems a little odd to me that we’re spending so much time discussing a woman who, so far as I can tell, never openly advocated for separation.

        • “once took out membership in a separatist party.”

          I understand your point, and agree to an extent, but it should also be noted that Turmel was (and still is) a member of the sovereigntist Quebec Solidaire, a party which is far more left-leaning and pro-sovereignty than either the Bloc or the PQ. This cannot, IMO, easily be dismissed as you have done. She doesn’t even have the excuse that she was helping out a friend (which was her defense for supporting the Bloc).

    • LKO, now you’re just being silly.   Who cares if a cabinet minister was a separatist ten years ago?  He’s not a separatist anymore, and when he ran for the Tories he did so after he had converted to federalism, when his ties to the sovereignty movement were ancient history.

      Meanwhile, Turmel was a member in the BQ even as she was simultaneously a member of the NDP, violating both parties’ rules about such things. During the campaign, she improperly concealed her separatist affiliations, and Dion rightly called her out for this a few days ago.  She was even a member of a separatist provincial party until she was forced to give it up last week.

      We’re talking about someone will serve as leader of Canada’s Official Opposition, in a role that is traditionally considered the Alternative Head of Government.  The Turmel Turmoil has raised serious questions about Turmel’s judgment as well as the judgment of senior NDP leadership. They’re not ready for prime time.

      • CR, did you actually write, “Dion rightly called her out for this a few days ago.”

        Since when do you write complimentary things about M. Dion?

        • I’ve written dozens of complimentary things about Dion, going back to his days as Liberal leader and even before that.  I never saw him as leadership material, but I certainly appreciate his work on the Clarity Act and his judgment on matters pertaining to Quebec sovereignty.

          I think he’s an outstanding MP, and I’ll point out that he won more votes than any other Liberal candidate in the last election.

          • I am very well aware of M. Dion’s many positive attributes as well as his continuing electoral success.

            I do seem to recall you and various Darryls and AVRs etc. joining in with glee and heaping scorn on the man during the whole 2006-2008 period.

          • I only started commenting on Macleans in 2009.  Perhaps you’ve confused me with a different Muppet.

      • I take it we’re not giving any credence to Turmel’s insistence that she was never a separatist, but did belong to parties that avow separation for reasons other than their separatist aspirations?  (which, fair enough if so, just checking). 

        ‘Cause another difference is that in Turmel we have someone who claims to be a life-long federalist who nonetheless took out membership in a party that supports separatism for reasons other than supporting separation, whereas in Lebel’s case we have someone who was an avowed separatist member of a separatist party and then changed his mind.

        • The funny part is that in Turmel’s resignation letter from the Bloc, she states that she is doing so for personal reasons and not because she disagrees with their policies.

          You call Lebel an “avowed separatist member of a separatist party”, which is true, but it’s also worth noting that he wasn’t active in the Bloc and never campaigned for them.  So he was an avowed member, but not an involved member. However, you’re absolutely correct that he changed his mind.  I think it’s wonderful that he did so.  

          I thought this was interesting too:  “I have been a Conservative since Mr. Harper recognized the Québécois nation,” Lebel said in an interview with Montreal daily The Gazette at the time. “Recognition of the Québécois nation is very important. I am a nationalist and I will always be.”

          • I found that last quote REALLY interesting too.  Please see and/or respond to my comment below, as I’d be interested to know what you think, or to see any material you can link to that can clarify what Lebel meant when he said “I am a nationalist and always will be” immediately after emphasizing the importance of recognizing the QUEBECOIS nation. 

            Do you suppose he meant that he’ll always be a federalist, or did he mean that he’ll always be a Quebecois nationalist?

        • Just to be clear, I understand that she joined the Bloc to support a friend, but what was her excuse in joining Quebec Solidaire? If it was for reasons other than supporting sovereignty, what were they? This point is unclear to me.

          • Quebec Solidaire is ultra-left wing.  She joined for the radical socialism, not the radical separatism, but of course if she was a committed federalist all along she never should have joined in the first place.

      • “violating both parties’ rules” – is that a fact or your opinion?

        • I know for sure it was a violation of NDP rules, but I haven’t actually confirmed if it was a violation of Bloc rules.  I assume that it is, but who knows?

          • I’m sure I read at least one article somewhere that mentioned that at least one federal party does not (or did not) have a rule against being a member of a second party, but you’re definitely right about the NDP’s rules, and Turmel has acknowledged that she unknowingly violated that rule (i.e. she didn’t realize that it was a rule).

          • “She didn’t realize that it was a rule”  – I have difficulty believing  that someone with the experience of Ms. Turmel would not sense the obvious conflict of interest in adhering to two parties that compete in the same political arena.
             
            Anyway, as I’ve been told repeatedly, she is interim leader – but she could be interim leader for the next 2 years or more. She will need a lot of support from the experienced politicians in her caucus.  Her judgement is severely flawed.

      • Different day, same talking points.  Exactly the same as the Mike fron Canmore impersonator on yesterday’s thread. 

        • All my comments and arguments are 100% my own.

    • The old. are you kidding – he’s just a potted plant defence.  The truth will set them free!

  5. Sheesh! Those whacky Conservative! What will they think up next?

  6. Lebel stopped being a member of the Bloc ten years ago.

    Nycole Turmel was secretly a member of a separatist party ten days ago.

    Can anyone spot the difference?

    • Apparently no one in the CPC, since they didn’t think to point that out according to the G&M article.  

      • They had more faith than they ought to have in the logical reasoning skills of the media. Alas.

      • Adrian Morrow, who wrote the article, didn’t interview anyone in the CPC. There’s a brief mention of a phone call to Lebel’s office that was not returned.

        • Conservatives not returning media phone calls has been standard communications protocol for the past 5 years. no big surprise there.

    • The potted plant minister vs. the interim leader with no actual government power.  Which one will win the battle of ineffectuality?

  7. OTTAWA – The Liberal Party of Canada today proudly announced the election of their new party leader, Gilles Duceppe…

  8. I’m a bit confused by something in this article.

    Here’s the section: “‘I have been a Conservative since Mr. Harper recognized the Québécois nation,’ Lebel said in an interview with Montreal daily The Gazette at the time. “Recognition of the Québécois nation is very important. I am a nationalist and I will always be.’

    So, when Lebel said “Recognition of the Québécois nation is very important. I am a nationalist and I will always be” do you suppose he meant “I am a federalist and I always will be” or did he mean “I am a Quebecois nationalist and I always will be”???

    The language around these issues is often tricky, but declaring that you’ll always be a “nationalist” right after stressing the high importance of recognizing the Quebecois nation does seem to suggest that you’ll always be a Quebecois nationalist, doesn’t it?   Am I being too picky?

    • You’re not being too picky.  Lebel is a Quebecois nationalist who believes that the best place for the Quebecois nation is as a province within a strong and united Canada.

      • And I can wrap my head around that too, barely, but there’s a hardcore federalist part of me that’s REALLY ANNOYED that we’ve let it get to the point where a federal cabinet minister can apparently be described as a “federalist Quebecois nationalist”.  Intellectually I get it, but it still irks me.

        • I understand why it irks you, but don’t forget that the Quebecois nation motion was overwhelmingly supported by the HOC – it passed with 265 yeas to 14 nays.

          If Canada formally recognizes a Quebecois “nation”, then it’s not inconsistent to have “federalist Quebecois nationalists”.

          By the way, I didn’t like the nation motion back in 2006, but since then I’ve come to realize that it was another nail in the coffin of the sovereignty movement.

          • I understand why it irks you, but don’t forget that the Quebecois nation
            motion was overwhelmingly supported by the HOC – it passed with 265
            yeas to 14 nays
            .

            Oh, I haven’t forgotten.  That irks me too, LOL. 

            (Though I acknowledge that annoying as it is it may have had some tactical advantage, as you suggest).

          • All that being said, if Lebel is on record saying that he’ll always be a Quebecois nationalist, can we find an example of him on record saying that he’ll always be a federalist?  And if we can’t find such a quote, is it asking too much of a federal cabinet minister that he provide one (i.e. say the words “I am and always will be a federalist”)?

          • Will look for a Lebel quote, and by the same token will look for a Harper quote claiming that he is and will always be a federalist. Wish me luck!

          • Actually Lebel was quoted four days ago on this matter, on RadCan :

            “Le choix que j’ai fait, c’est de représenter le Québec dans un grand pays uni qui est le Canada”.

            (I have made the choice to represent Quebec in the great united country that is Canada. )

            http://www.radio-canada.ca/regions/saguenay-lac/2011/08/05/004-lebel-bloc-quebecois.shtml

            All this has given me the desire to hear a truly sincere  Vive Le Canada.  JC conveyed clearly conveyed that what made Canada great was the sum of its parts. Off to YouTube!

          • @LoraineLamontagne:disqus

            The difference being though, Harper was never a separatist, and he’s never said that he’ll always be a Quebecois nationalist.

          • @LoraineLamontagne:disqus

            “I have made the choice to represent Quebec in the great united country that is Canada” is an excellent start, and almost there, but I’d still like to see something just slightly more along the lines of a commitment to KEEPING the great united country that is Canada united.  Not that it’s not out there, I’d just like to see it.  One could after all believe “a united Canada is GREAT… but you know what would be even better…”.

            Again, Lebel may well now be as committed a federalist as I am, but when one says that they’re always going to be a Quebecois nationalist I raise the bar pretty high on my expectations for that person’s verbal commitment to federalism.

          • Harper may have never been a separatist, but he was (and may still be) a firewallist.

  9. The firewall proves that Harper is an ‘étapiste’, as were René Lévesque and Claude Morin.  Harper in that letter encourages Albertans to get ready to separate when the opportunity arises, that it would have to come from Ottawa.  This is also the PQ strategy for Quebec.

    I have read a number of Harper’s speeches since yesterday and could not find a firm commitment to federalism. Clearly a unilateral declaration of independence is unacceptable to him, he’s on the  side of clarity and the rule of law.  But I have yet to find anything to confirm that he has reversed his position :  it doesn’t matter to him whether Canada has one, two or more national governments.  This position is reiterated in many ways in all the speeches I have read.  Unlike previous prime minister Harper sees no benefit to Canada remaining as is.  Harper is the first prime minister willing to move Canada towards defederalizing. Others always promoted that Canada as it stands is great – Harper doesn’t think that. 

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