How can a Bloc MP take this oath? - Macleans.ca
 

How can a Bloc MP take this oath?

COYNE: MPs have to “bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people” in order to see Afghan detainee docs


 

Okay, so in order to see the Afghan detainee documents, members of the ad hoc committee set up by agreement between the government and opposition parties (minus the NDP) have to subject themselves to a long list of security measures. They have to sign a confidentality undertaking. They have to get security clearance. They can only view the documents in a “secure location.” They can’t bring staff with them, or any recording device, can’t remove any material or make copies. They can make notes on what they’re reading, provided they leave them on site, and destroy them in six months.

And they have to swear an oath. It’s described as an “oath of confidentiality.” But it’s not only that. Here’s the text:

I, [name], swear (or solemnly affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and freedoms I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey. I further swear (or solemnly affirm) that I will not communicate or use without due authority any information obtained in confidence during the review of documentation.

The second sentence is the oath of confidentiality. The first is something quite different: an oath of loyalty. Nothing remarkable in that. These are Members of the Parliament of Canada, after all. And the information they are being permitted to see, as the tight security rules imply, is of the most delicate nature. Nothing less than the national security of the country is at stake. Of course you’d only extend that right to people who were loyal to Canada, and had Canada’s best interests at heart.

Except … the Bloc Québécois signed this agreement. As such, it is entitled to nominate a member (plus an alternate) to sit on the committee. If you’re like me, you have a problem with people who are openly dedicated to the destruction of Canada being privy to our most sensitive national secrets. Still, I realize in this benighted country there are those who disagree. There are even people who think the Bloc should be allowed to participate in the executive government (as opposed to the legislature) of Canada.

Fine: except the terms of the agreement says no committee member can see the documents unless they swear to “be faithful and bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people.” Regardless of whether you think there should be such a loyalty test, there it is. Regardless of whether you think it is fair to subject the Bloc to such an obligation, they agreed to it. I’ll put aside my objection in principle to the Bloc seeing any of these documents if the Bloc can explain how they can possibly swear that oath.

“That I will be faithful and bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people”? Is this not an explicit repudiation of their party’s central purpose? If they swear such an oath, then, they can’t possibly mean it. And if they don’t mean it, what good is the oath? If they are taking one part of the oath, as it were, with their fingers crossed, who’s to say they are not doing the same with the other?

How, in good conscience, could the Bloc agree to swear an oath to one thing when it believes the exact opposite? Or never mind conscience: are there no legal consequences for swearing oaths in bad faith? Oaths aren’t just words on paper. They are legal documents. They are intended to ensure people make honest statements, where honesty is a vital necessity, as it surely is in matters of national security. And yet any Bloc MP who takes this oath must, by definition, be lying.

I realize the separatist movement has confronted this question before. It is a constitutional requirement, not only for Members of Parliament but for members of the National Assembly in Quebec, to swear an oath of loyalty to the Queen, and somehow they have managed to work themselves around to doing that. I recall Gilles Duceppe pointing out that there are members of the British Labour Party who don’t believe in the monarchy, and yet are permitted to swear a similar oath before entering their own Parliament. But this is something else again. There is no possible way to square “loyalty to Canada and its people” with membership in a party whose stated objective is to tear that same country, and its people, apart.

In which case, if we permit any Bloc MP to take this oath, it is not only the Blocquiste who would be committing a fraud, but us. And yet the oath speaks of upholding the laws!

ADDENDUM: Here’s the oath Members of Parliament (and of the provincial legislatures) are obliged to swear before taking office, as prescribed by Section 128 of the Constitution Act 1867 and set out in the Fifth Schedule:

I, [name], do swear, that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

In French:

Je, [nom], jure que je serai fidèle et porterai une vraie allégeance à Sa Majesté la Reine Élisabeth II.

But what do solemn and binding oaths mean in this country? What does anything? We are so used to looking the other way at the Bloc’s sincere and determined enmity that I suppose we will do the same with their mocking professions of loyalty.


 

How can a Bloc MP take this oath?

  1. Quick, someone cue the Bloc apologists on the Macleans comment board!

    • Quick, someone cue the jackasses!

    • I don't agree with the Bloc's position, but I do agree with the democratic principle of allowing anyone to form a political party for any cause. In the decades since independence was voted down, the Bloc has represented the interests of Quebec strongly. If any other party were willing to do this, then the electorate would support them in return.

      Why do you think the NDP does well in the Maritimes? The Liberals in metropolitan areas? The Conservatives in rural and the West? Because these parties respresent the interests and mindsets of the people that vote for them. Just because their opinions and mindsets are not yours, doesn't make them less Canadian. Just like you are not less Canadian if you disagree with me.

      • I suspect the Bloc may view themselves as "less Canadian" when their "raisone d'etre" is one of becoming a separate and distinct country.

  2. How does this differ from the oath they take when they are sworn in?

    It sounds pretty similar to me, but I don't have the text at hand right now.

    • And here you go: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/procedure-book-livre/Docum

      The wording of the oath is as follows: “I, (Member's name), do swear, that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second”.[221] As an alternative to swearing the oath, Members may make a solemn affirmation, by simply stating:[222] “I, (Member's name), do solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second”.

      (watches Andrew's head explode)

      • So are they committing an independent Quebec to being a Commonwealth Realm under the leadership of the Queen? Because that actually would satisfy the oath, but somehow I have my doubts. 

  3. Cutting the Bloc's federal election subsidy will correct the problem.

    Only last time that was talked about the Liberal and the NDP manned the ramparts in outrage – and in their outrage they then signed a deal with the Bloc to take over the executive government.

    If the Bloc can play the role of kingmakers in Parliament, signing an oath of loyalty to Canada despite their raison d'etre of destroying Canada as we know it is a mere irregularity in the grand scheme of things.

    In December 2008, the fox was on the verge of calling the shots in the henhouse. Lest we forget.

    • jarrid……..exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      We need to cut the subsidy to all parties with the most important result being that we Canadians living outside of Canada do not have to support with our taxes the Bloc. The next thing is to pass a law which does not permit a party to sit in the federal House of Commons unless they run candidates in at least 75% of the ridings ( pick your prercentage).

      If we do not address this issue given the way the country has become regionalized we will end up with a number of protest parties i.e. Reform sitting in the House of Commons and nothing will get done which will benefit the country as a whole.

      • The election subsidy is directly correlated on votes counted. If you are not voting for the Bloc, you are not subsidizing them.

    • Sorry, I thought parliment was about finding the middle ground that's acceptable to the majority of Canadians, not about disabling those with an opinion contrary to your own.

      The Bloc still play kingmakers whenever the Liberals or NDP appear to be slacking. We have had 6 years of kingmaker ability in all the parties. The real question is who is willing to work for the advancement of Canada regardless of political affiliations.

  4. I will be faithful and bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and freedoms I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey.

    The Bloc Québécois participates in the democratic process of Canada, as such, I would say it is safe to assume members of the BQ share those democratic beliefs, rights and freedoms that the rest of Canadians (including people in Québec) enjoy.

    As for the laws they will uphold and obey… Again, the Clarity Act is an official law in this land. Referendums are legal, provided the question and the majority is clear. The Bloc has never advocated any illegal manifestation of any kind.

    I see no contradiction.

    • No contradiction? By what contortion can you make the Bloc bear "true loyalty to Canada and to its people"? I notice you don't even try.

      As for the Bloc never advocating any illegal manifestation of any kind, you're quite wrong. It is an article of faith among separatists — and some federalists — that Quebec is entitled to declare independence unilaterally. They might choose to negotiate the terms, so long as that proved advantageous (although Parizeau never believed in it), but they have always asserted the right to go to UDI if need be.

      That belief has never been recanted, even in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling that such a rupture would be wholly unconstitutional. Nor have they ever accepted to be bound by the Clarity Act (though of course the Act itself binds only the government of Canada — it's the Supreme Court ruling that's binding on Quebec).

      • Wait, are we now talking about separatists in toto or only Bloc MPs?

        • It doesn't matter.

          Separatists are bad.

        • This is true of any and all separatists who have taken oaths of allegiance to Canada. I can’t think of any such group besides the Bloc MP in question, but if you expand it to include oaths of loyalty to the Queen, it’s a much larger group, including all BQ MPs and PQ MNAs past and present. 

      • I'm with you Andrew – and I fail to see how anyone who signed their name to a firewall letter in Alberta can be trusted to take this oath, either.

        • Mark, perhaps you should actually read the contents of that letter before you embarrass yourself.
          (http://www.cbc.ca/canadavotes2004/leadersparties/leaders/pdf/firewall.pdf)

          The firewall referred to Fed-Prov jurisdictions, as noted in our constitution. In fact, some of the proposals, are already in effect in other parts of the country, such as provincially controlled pension plan, police force, tax collection.

          • It appears that the only thing you people fear more than separatism is sarcasm.

        • Mark……of course lets make the discussion about Stephen Harper. You have to believe the man is some politician and an effective leader when all the discussion can never be about anything else but him. He truly has captured the imagination of the country for good or bad.

          You should read the firewall letter again. Hypocrit.

      • Separatists believe that their solution i in the best interests of both Quebec and the ROC, as they see it, and their respective people. I completely disagree, but that's what they think. THey are "loyal" in their eyes in that they treat the institutions with respect, and honestly believe their plan is best for all. Again, that's a load of bull imho, but their is no inconsistency in taking the oath.

        • It's an interesting and not entirely implausible view, imho.

          If a Bloc MP truly believes that the separation of Quebec from the ROC would be best both for Quebec AND for the ROC, then, presumably, he or she would be being disloyal to Canada in NOT attempting to bring about the separation of Quebec. It's a twister, but looked at that way, I'm not sure it's logically inconsistent.

          • Indeed, these things are never as simple as they appear at first. A lot of people like to throw the word "treason" around when talking about separatists…until they actually meet one and realize that's not at all what's going on. They don't hate Canada – it's more that nationalism they feel for Quebec is much stronger then the nationalism they feel for Canada, which leads them to conclude that out model of federalism needs to be altered.

            Others Quebecers feel a stronger nationalism towards Canada than Quebec, and still others fee it more for Quebec then Canada but not to such a degree that it would require changing our federal model in any way (except maybe more consistent respect for the constitutional division of powers). Far from a black/white (yes/no) issue, there is a spectrum of opinion on the matter and a host of different views.

            For each individual Quebecer, the question is "does the nationalism I feel closely enough match the federalism under which I am governed?" The answer to that question might lead one to be a separatist, but it doesn't make him a traitor.

          • Except that there is only one Canada, and it includes Quebec. There is no Quebec and ROC in Canada. There is only Canada. Canada's a confederation of provinces, by advocating for the separation of one, you're effectively advocating the separation of them all. Which would be the end of Canada.

      • A person can be loyal to their spouse, and loyal to their boss, even if the two hate each other.

        Or are you arguing that anybody with dual citizenship can't be loyal to both countries? I don't see how somebody could not be both loyal to Canada and to an idea of a separate Quebec. Reconciliation between the two ideas simply means feeling that the separation of Quebec would be better for both Canada and Quebec.

        Whether you think such a belief is correct or not is irrelevant to the person swearing the oath.

        • The analogy isn't great. Quebec can be loyal to the province and to the country (wife/boss) but not to a separate Quebec and to Canada (wife/2nd wife). As for dual citizenship….I've often thought that doing away with it would enhance loyalty to Canada. One wife.

  5. Without having any sympathy for the separatists, I suppose one could argue that they can swear loyalty to Canada so long as that remains their nation of citizenship (despite their long term goal of establishing a separate nation). They swear loyalty to Canada until Quebec is no longer a part of Canada. Congative dissonance, sure. But it's not exactly lying. I don't see it as qualitatively different from swearing to the Queen.

    I suppose one downside of the Clarity Act is that it gives a certain credibility and acknowledgement to separtist aims. Since we have laws on the books governing the terms of separation, it makes it a bit harder to say separatist platforms are completely irreconcilable with ad hoc loyalty to the current federation.

    I don't like the separatists one bit. I frigging hate Quebers for clogging the House with BQ members. But unless we want to make separatist parties illegal, I guess we have to live with the representatives Quebecers send to Ottawa.

    • And I'd be open to making separatist parties illegal in Canada. It'd be more honest than the 'residual sin' approach the country takes currently.

      • I'm not following this 'residual sin' line of thought…please expand a bit.

        • You're right, it's not all that self-evident an analogy.

          I was referencing the older Christian belief that individuals – no matter how virtuous in their lifetimes – still possessed some degree of sin (by way of being human, if nothing else). (Pergatory was where the residual sin would be expunged, so even the virtuous could expect to spend a little time there).

          In terms of how Canadians treat the BQ – or at least how the Ottawa political culture treats them – they tend to enjoy a fairly positive reputation, are legally allowed to have a separatist party, and so forth. But their separatist platform is always something that can be held against them when folks get peeved, or if it suits political strategy. In that sense, their separatist aims are treated as a form of residual sin.

          There's probably a much better way to express the same idea.

          • "I was referencing the older Christian belief that individuals – no matter how virtuous in their lifetimes – still possessed some degree of sin (by way of being human, if nothing else). (Pergatory was where the residual sin would be expunged, so even the virtuous could expect to spend a little time there)."

            I realize this was just intended as an analogy, but it's pretty confused nonetheless. "Older Christianity" (i.e. Catholicism) has never held that all men have "residual sin" to atone for at death by virtue of being human. There is "original sin" that we inherit from Adam, and "actual sins" that we commit ourselves, both of which can be easily expunged in this life, and many people have always been believed to die in a state of grace (i.e., without sin left unatoned) rather than being in need of purgation afterwards.

            Anyway, I think your analogy works if you use "original sin". Bloc MPs may do many good things and be effective in many ways, but they always have that inherent problem inherited from their party: they're fundamentally separatists. They can only truly be redeemed if they let this go…. I suppose the analogy to baptism would be "crossing the floor".

          • I was hoping someone more educated on the subject would jump in! Thanks. And my apologies to all for throwing such a confusing wrench into the works.

          • Thanks!

            My bottom line wrt the BQ is that I really can't get very motivated to worry about them. I say this on the basis of their actual behaviour rather than their stated aims. If I thought that their actions in Ottawa were actually being destructive, then I would be willing to expend more effort to "counter" them. Ie there is absolutely nothing that the BQ could accomplish (destructive or otherwise) without the willng participation of at least one truly federal party.

            The fact that the BQ regularly takes 40 to 50 seats out of play for both the CPC and the LPC, which then means that either of those two parties needs to win 60% of the remaining seats so as to reach a clear majority isn't destructive, it's just annoying (for some), and that is an annoyance that isn't that difficult for the other parties to work around if they really felt the need.

    • … or we could cut their federal subsidies which is insane.

      The Bloc used to have major problems getting their own members to vote in federal elections because most of them had a "why should I vote in a federal election" mentality. Now the Bloc can use their federal subsidy very efficiently by flooding the Quebec market with adds while the other parties have to use their resource across the whole country.

      • I've got no problem with cutting federal subsidies. But it's ultimately a rather roundabout (and timid) means of addressing the problem. At some point, we have to stop treating the BQ like some force of nature that comes from nowhere, and start pinning responsiblity on the voters of Quebec. While it may currently be their right to elect separatists, the rest of the country should exercise their right to call them on it – vehemently and relentlessly. And we should seriously consider expanding our understanding and legal treatment of treason to include parties like the BQ.

        • I agree with your sentiments but not your tactics on this. Turning down the temperature on the volatile "nationalist question" is almost always a good idea. Outlawing the BQ would play in the separatist's hands. On the other hand, cutting their election subsidy would make them squawk in outrage but once their outburst would be over the withdrawn subsidy would take its course and the BQ would be back to the old get the vote out the hard way approach. It would be all to the good.

          • It's true that I'm probably too antagonistic in this case. And were separatist parties to be outlawed, there would be nothing to stop Quebecers from simply electing some other rump party (sans separatiste) and clog Parliament in the same way.

            The benefit of cutting per-vote subsidies is that it would discourage parties that are too concentrated (BQ) or too thin (Greens) in their support, and favour more grounded, grassroots relationships between parties and voters.

          • The benefit of cutting per-vote subsidies is that it would discourage parties that are too concentrated… or too thin…

            Huh? It favours the status quo? I'm surprised to read that you are "against change". Please tell me I've misinterpreted your thoughts!

          • I'm not against change, and in fact I want to see change in the form of moving away from a perpetually fragmented parliament. Per vote subsidies make it easier for both the Greens and BQ (for different reasons) to survive (and help ensure minority parliaments). The subsidy provides less incentive for the BQ to expand its appeal beyond Quebec (I know, just pretend they're a regional, but non-separatist party for a moment). And it provides less incentive for the Greens to actually hunker down and focus on winning a seat or two (May's bizarre choice of ridings seems proof enough of that).

            I'm not saying it's the sole cause of these strategies or the fragmented parliament, just that it represents a well meaning idea that has spawned unintended consequences.

          • Prpetually fragmented? It might seem that way, but it hasn't really been that long, and it is unlikely to last. At basically any time the ROC can "decide" to coalesce behind either the CPC or the LPC (or the NDP or the Greens for that matter) and elect a majority. For now the voters seem to be unwilling to hand any federal party a majority, and that's what Parliament needs to work with.

            Your desire to move away from a perpetually(?) fragmented parliament seems like you are in favour of finding an expedient solution rather than buckling down to do the hard work that might be required to get things done in a parliament that is basically representative of what the various parts of our country want.

      • The BQs election results have been fairly consistent……where is this correlation between subsidies and electoral results?

        The BQ gets roughly $2.5 million per year, ostensibly to pander to about 7.5 million people (~33c/person).
        The CPC gets roughly $10.0 million per year, ostensibly to pander to about 30.0 million people (~33c/person).

        Do you have access to different numbers?

        • Dollars per person may be similar, but dollars per riding is much higher. Within Quebec ridings the Bloc therefore has more money to spend than any other party. Without the per-vote subsidy they would lose this advantage and would likely win fewer ridings.

          • Are you sure?

            The BQ gets roughly $2.5 million per year, ostensibly to pander to 75 ridings ($33K / riding).
            The CPC gets roughly $10.0 million per year, ostensibly to pander 308 ridings ($33K / riding).

            Just to compare, the LPC, NDP and Green numbers are $23K, $16K and $6K respectively.

          • You're right, I stand corrected.
            I still think the Bloc would be crippled without that money to spend (it would have essentially none, as I understand it, without the per-vote subsidy). But your point is a good one: why are the other parties unable to compete effectively with the Bloc when they have the same per-vote money to devote to its ridings?

          • I'm not even 100% convinced that removing the per vote subsidy would cripple the BQ.

            I say that on the basis that the BQ has existed (ie been elected to the HoC) since 1993, and have netted between 38 to 54 seats in the 6 elections including that one in 1993. I don't recall the exact timing of the per vote subsidy, but I thought that it was near the end of Chretien's 3 terms, which means that the BQ was arguably just as successful in the 3 elections prior as compared to the 3 elections since the change.

          • why are the other parties unable to compete effectively with the Bloc when they have the same per-vote money to devote to its ridings?

            Because the people of Quebec prefer the ideas and policies that Bloc candidates are putting forward?

    • "I frigging hate Quebers (sic)"

      Ooooh, we're openly expressing and inciting hatred against ethnic groups now, contrary to sec. 318 of the Criminal Code of Canada? Iiiiiiiiiinteresting, tell us more about your racial hatred. And they are a race, and were referred to as one up until very recently, every PM from Laurier to Pearson spoke of "two founding races" and never "two founding nations", but that was back in the days when we were Darwinists here in Canada…

      This – the supression of free expression – would be one of Canada's "rights", a positive one, that I oppose; I guess that would disqualify me from taking this oath too.

      • " I frigging hate Quebecers for clogging the House with BQ members. [typo fixed]" was what I wrote, you moron.

        Be angry, or be stupid. The combination is intolerable.

        • He was multitasking.

    • Sean….you say you hate Separatists but you have no problem defending their "rights" in your post.

      That's like Liberals who say they were Conservative supporters but because of the actions of the Conservative party no longer support them.

      We do need to pass legislation forcing any party who wants to sit in the federal party to run candidates in a majority of ridings accross the country..

      • I simply recognize that the BQ has the legal right to exist as a federal party, and that we've pragmatically allowed them to do so for some time. We should avoid selectively using their separatist aims as a potential reason to exclude them from participation available to other MPs.

        As I said, I'm open to the idea of outlawing separatist parties outright, but in the absence of that we should question the coy game of only occasionally calling them out on it. It's part of a larger 'walking on eggshells' habit we have with Quebec, and one that I increasingly think has outlived its utility and justification.

        I'm not fully comfortable with mandating a certain level of candidacy for federal parties – such a law could prevent the future creation of parties from humble roots.

  6. "How can a Bloc MP take this oath?"

    Easy: they lie. It's not exactly a party of high-minded moral principle.

    • On the contrary, if you desired to separate from Canada, then the moral way to do it would be the democratic way, by electing members to represent your desires.

      I'm not a BQ fan, but I don't think they're lacking morality, that's taking it a step too far. I just don't like their policies or principles. On the other hand, I consider some of the language laws they support to be lacking respect for human rights.

      • It's not their approach to separation that strikes me as immoral, but rather the social policies they espouse. Compared to those, I expect that lying under oath is small beans.

        Actually, scratch that. I think that gumming up the works of our nation's Parliament with the attitude that their province comes first strikes me as unethical as well. Like it or not, they are currently Canadian members of Parliament, and therefore they owe it to Canada to look out for the country's best interests first and Quebec's second.

        • OK, I agree that their social policies are immoral.

          therefore they owe it to Canada to look out for the country's best interests first and Quebec's second

          Not sure that's how the system works. MPs are intended to represent the interests of the citizens that elected them. They're not supposed to substitute the interests of others for the interests of their constituents (in theory, at least).

        • "…gumming up the works of our nation's Parliament with the attitude that their province comes first strikes me as unethical."

          Others might argue that Ontario's MPs would similarly fit that bill.

    • I can't see a party with seats that is, really.

  7. "Easy: they lie. It's not exactly a party of high-minded moral principle."

    That's a pretty harsh assessment but it's hard to disagree. To the Bloc, everything is a means to an end. The end being political independance. They are completely single-minded in this endeavour, that single-mindedness should never, ever be underestimated.

    Holding seats in Parliament and gaining credibility for their cause amongst Quebecers is their short and medium term goal. To do that they have to lie about the oath. They'd wipe their behinds with that oath "dans une seconde". They reject Canada. Canadians should never forget who we're dealing with here. As the Liberals forgot in 2008 to their discredit. The Bloc are the enemy within. They'll behave only as long as it suits their utlimate goal: political separation and independance for Quebec.

    • I, [name], swear (or solemnly affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and freedoms I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey. I further swear (or solemnly affirm) that I will not communicate or use without due authority any information obtained in confidence during the review of documentation.

      I frankly believe some Conservatives of the old Reform fringe would truly have trouble with this Oath namely "faithful and bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people, whose democratic I share, whose rights and freedoms I respect" Namely they don't need to respect democracy cuz they are always right. Others would have had time with the rights and freedoms I respect bit. I suspect they would not respect my right and freedom to sing the National Anthem in the original lyrics oh well I guess they share that with the Blockers. Bonne nuit les amies et vive le Canada libre!

    • jarrid….I agree….I think because the Bloc has been sitting in the House for more than 20 years and has participated fully in our democratic institutions MPs and some Canadians tend to forgot that they have no interest in seeing Canada and the federation succeed. Their objectiive and only objective is to break the country apart.

      We cannot forget they are not some benign political party who has the best interests of the country at heart. Their job is to support the PQ in their attempts to gain power in Quebec and force another referendum.

  8. Loyalty is as loyalty does. If this writer wanted to fully explore the practicality of a loyalty oath he might focus less on The Bloc (who are Canadian, who ‘DO’ “canadian”) and more on Harper whose actions these last few days betray his greater loyalty to Israel than to Canada.

    • I cannot agree that criticizing an anti-Semite statement is considered betraying one's loyalty to Canada.

      • There were anti-semitic statements by an MP? I'm horrified!

        Oh wait, you were talking about Libby Davies. Yawn.

    • Karen, Deary, you're OTT.

    • Karen…..are you out of your cotton picking mind? This board is about the Bloc not about Stephen Harper. It goes to show that Harper, for good or bad, has captured the imagination of the country. He is one great politician.

      Not one discussion can take place where his name is not raised negatively. Your really need to get a grip. Canadians do not see Harper the same way you Libs/NDP ers do. They see a strong leader. They see opposition parties and their supporters who focus on process, strategies and tactics. To many Canadians this is all white noise and is ignored.

      That explains why the polls do not show any traction for any party. The country has been polarized but the fact remains that when an election comes there will only be two choices; a man who has led the economic recovery of Canada through a great recession and a man who has the political instincts of a knat and who has not shown any leadership. Guess who Canadians will pick. It won't be the feckless leader of the opposition.

    • Calling someone to task for musing about Israel's right to exist means he has a greater loyalty to Israel than to Canada? So loyal Canadians should also be musing about Israel's right to exist?

  9. I believe the first part is the oath sworn by federal public servants when they join the civil service. Or very similar anyway.

  10. For god's sake, Mr. Coyne, can you focus on real issues, instead of trying to find twisted ways to discredit Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Québécois – which we all know you love to do.

    I personally think that your interpretation of "loyalty" is skewed, at best.

    To this date, Québec is part of Canada. Quebecers are Canadians, that they want it or not. In a way – they are loyal to Canada, and even more, they are loyal to democracy in Canada, and they are loyal to their electorate.

    Federalists have this allergy to debate, it's almost unhealthy, and this is why Meech has failed, and it is also why separatism is regaining popularity – because federalists don't want to have the debate about the position of Quebec within Canada. If separatists wanted to be unloyal and commit treachery to Canada, we would have been in a civil war between Québec and Canada by now. The great rebellion.

    There is "loyalty" as in "I bend before thee and submit myself to my masters", there's loyalty in the sense in which our MPs, regardless their affiliation, are loyal to democracy and to the Parliament of Canada, and there's also loyal as a partner, as a brother. When Quebec separates – a matter of time – they will not turn around and burn the bridges down. They will stay loyal, as a partner. If somebody burns the bridges, it will some Canadians, especially those from Alberta, who will only rejoice and say "Good riddance!".

    • Sigh. It's a perfectly simple concept. If you are loyal to something, you want to be a part of it. You are perfectly entitled to believe that Quebec should separate from Canada, helping itself along the way to one-sixth of the territory and leaving the pieces that remained to sort things out as best they could. But you cannot assert at the same time that you are being loyal to Canada. Your confusion on this point speaks volumes, or rather libraries.

      • Mr. Coyne,

        It does not follow that if one is loyal, one necessarily wants to be a part of it. I can be loyal to my friend, but it doesn't mean that I will put that loyalty above any and all priorities. And one can be loyal to Canada while still wishing to leave it. Those concepts are not inconsistent; one can be perfectly loyal to an institution that has served you well (read: National Post) while leaving that institution because to form another for whatever reason (read: Macleans). Additionally, separatists do not seek the "destruction of Canada", they simply seek to separate it. I'm no separatist apologist, but you do yourself no favours by indulging in that intellectual shorthand.

        Further, to take your implied argument to its logical conclusion, if a person advocating separatism had to necessarily agree with your interpretation of the Parliamentary oath, then either a) a separatist could never serve in Parliament, or b) there's something wrong with this oath. I prefer the latter interpretation, particularly if the separatist were legitimately democratically elected.

        Finally, the purpose of this oath is to protect, in essence, the rule of law. It is asking those who swear it to respect the rule of law. Say what you will about the separatists, but they have proven themselves time and time again to respect democratic institutions and to operate within them (see: BQ, PQ, language laws and the Charter) and you ought to respect them as duly elected participants in the democratic process.

        I, like you, would prefer it if Ottawa were free from separatists. But it's not. Why? Because voters keep putting them there. And that basic democratic principle is more important, to me, than an archaic oath. Because voters are in control.

      • My apologies for the second post. I realized something else I forgot to include in my prior, less than elegant comment.

        MPs have occasionally inconsistent mandates. They are frequently torn between what is "good for Canada" and what is "good for the constituency." Applying your argument, even if leaving Canada were in the interests of a constituency, or if a change to or even disobeying the laws of Canada were in the interests of a constituency, an MP would be conscience-bound to disregard the interests of her constituency because this oath demands loyalty.

        Surely it can't be that the oath requires an MP to disregard the interests of his constituency, can it? So why can it require an MP to disregard the interests of the voters who elected him, if those voters happen to be separatists?

        • Is being a separatist in Parliament consistent with bearing "true Allegience" to HM QEII?

          If not, well, the MPs are in violation of the oath.

          It's happened before — Louis Riel was elected twice to Parliament but never took his seat. Sinn Fein keeps on winning seats in the mother Parliament, but their members don't take their seats b/c they won't take the oath.

          Pretty simple language, and a pretty easy concept here.

          • Louis Riel was elected twice or was it three times? He did not take his seat because he was prevented from doing so! Orange dominated Ontario put a price on his head because they wanted revenge for Thomas Scott who was not very loyal to the duly elected provisional government of the Red River Settlement. He was more loyal to the Orange Lodges and his temper than anything else. I think Louis Riel actually signed the register for Members of Parliament but was prevented from proceeding to do anything else when he was recognized and fled before he could be arrested.

      • Coyne's getting negative votes for this simple statement of fact?

        Huh.

        +1.

      • I notice that when somebody does not agree with you, they are confused, or simply don't get the issue.

        First off, I'm not pro-separation, or anything that involves Quebec separating.

        But the way I see it, Bloc MPs are in Ottawa to represent the interest of their constituents, like any MP on the hill – and you know what, they do their job pretty damn well. Whether they are separatists or not is not the question. RIght now, they serve the Parliament of Canada and the people, and, like I said, if they didn't want to work with Canada, they would of unilaterally separated by now. You will remark that, on some issues, the Bloc is able to speak with the other parties and with the Parliament, because they are issues where the interests of Canadians AND the interests of Quebec line up – such as in the afghan detainee issue. Your definition of loyalty and your attitude towards the Bloc speaks volumes, or rather libraries, on why Québec's place in Canada is an issue that has been dragging for so long.

    • "Federalists have this allergy to debate,…" As much as the separatist project is an unfortunate waste of energy on Canada as a whole, it's much worse for Quebec in particular.

      Instead of focusing energy on the many problems which plague Quebec society, such as an abysmal birthrate, a depressingly high drop-out rate in public schools which schools have lost the public's confidence resulting in the lowest education levels in Canada, chronically high public debt – et j'en passe – too much time and energy gets sucked into this nirvanic dream of separation where everything will be made right. Only it won't. The problems will still be there. And they will loom all the larger because of all the years they were festering while Quebecers indulged themselves in "debate". When action needs to be taken to adress real problems, talk and debate isn't the right thing to do. There is no real leadership going on in Quebec these days, only people who like to talk about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

    • Federalists have this allergy to debate, it's almost unhealthy, and this is why Meech has failed, and it is also why separatism is regaining popularity – because federalists don't want to have the debate about the position of Quebec within Canada.

      So federalists are responsible for the seperation movement in Quebec. Got it.

    • "In a way – they are loyal to Canada."

      Oh, well, as long as they're loyal "in a way" I guess it's fine then. Sorry, in this context, I'd say loyalty is like pregnancy. You're either loyal, or you're not. There's no way to be pregnant "in a way".

  11. Richard Nadeau is one of the two Bloc MPs who will swear the oath of loyalty to Canada. Here he is a few months ago, giving a rousing speech to hard-core sovereigntists. In this speech, he makes it explicitly clear that his only loyalty is to Quebec and the Quebec independence project.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdkZwvZhbAE&fe…!

    • Good catch. More people have to be reminded where the Bloc's true loyalty lies. It's obvious but for some reason many english Canadians don't realize that political separation consumes the separatists quite literally day and night.

      We who live outside of Quebec have to help the majority of Quebecers who resist this waste of time and energy that is the separatist project. We do so not by not making life easy for the Bloc.

    • As long as the Bloc is what is keeping the Conservatives from a majoirty, and as long as the Bloc inhabits the left end of the political spectrum, we can expect progressives to defend them.

      • And yet I wouldnt say that all the MP's and certainly not all of the areas the Bloc represent would be "left wing" when released from the shackles of ethnic nationalism. Would a large chunk of Bloc seats go to the Liberals or the NDP if the Bloc ceased to be….yes….but a signifcant number would be conservative, probably more than enough to give the cons a majority if nothing else changed in other provinces.

        The Libs and NDP actually need the Bloc to keep the 20 to 25 Quebec seats from going conservative.

  12. If Bloc MPs are traitors, why have they not yet been summarily executed?

    • Do we execute for treason these days?

    • Do you have any idea how hard it is to stickhandle and execution warrant through the courts these days??

      • Harper hasn't got is Majority yet

  13. I don't see as much of a problem with their oath of allegiance; it's to the Queen and it doesn't say "Queen of Canada." Legally, right now, HMERII is Quebec's head of "state," and all executive power in the province flows from her. She is, effectively, Quebec, and there's no problem professing loyalty to her with the understanding that it's in function an oath to Quebec.

    The new oath to Canada is another matter entirely. For the apologists, I could see their swearing it being okay if it were couched in "until such time as Quebec is released from its terrible bonds of servitude," but that's not the language. It's not conditional.

    One would wish that Parliament would say "sorry, you can't take this oath and be committed to the obliteration of the country you're swearing loyalty to," but that would be like hoping for the Libs to get a spine or something.

  14. What concept of Canada are you loyal to when it is secondary in your opinion whether Canada ends up as one national government or two national governments or several national governments?

  15. Quebecers democratically elected should have fewer rights than Canadians democratically elected? This kind of argument explains why the independence thing will not die anytime soon.

    • I like consistent logic. So if Canada is divisible so is Quebec.

      • Fair enough Vince, but remember how Parizeau was pilloried after the '95 referendum for even mildly musing that non-francophone were less relevant and that old stock francophones had their dreams stolen.

        I don't see this as any different. The Bloc have been responsible when it comes to dealing with national security issues and Quebecers would not tolerate it any other way. Remember that quite a few Quebecers serve in our armed forces. The Bloc, therefore, has a role to play in viewing the documents.

        • I think this statement is consistent with them having the same rights AND responsibilities as other Canadians. But this argument usually falls apart on the sovereigntist side when you say that there "country" is equally divisible as Canada was.

          How that relates to them on the oath. Well, my comment below addresses that. You have to take them at their word, but that doesnt mean the institutions that are charged with ensuring these promises are kept dont do their job. Trust but verify. So whether it is CSIS or the RCMp or an intelligence arm of the Forces who are the proper authorities but they would be wise to monitor ALL of those MP's for a couple of years on this very matter. To do otherwise would be irresponsible of them. Trust but verify. If the Bloc Mp's, or any of the MP's, are willing to submit to the scrutiny of having Secret clearance and all that implies before and after then fine. They are MP's, they claim to be making the oath honestly…..just make sure they are and they continue to fulfill their obligations. If they get a little extra scrutiny, I think you can say it is justified.

    • Are you the same Mr. Fortin who is the new Bloc candidate in Haute-Gaspésie-La Mitis-Matane-Matapédia, by any chance?

      • No. And before you asked it: I'm not the hockey player who played with the Washington Capitals in 2001-2004. But it's a nice try.

  16. One apparently unforeseen consequence of the December 2008 Coalition is how it has legitimized the Bloc Quebecois's image with the political center-left and left in Canada.

    The Bloc's "alliance" with the Liberal Party and the NDP was of course never going to be for long – it was only going to be an 18- month marriage. It was a purely tactical alliance by all three parties. The Bloc has clearly benefitted the most from this arrangement as it has given them a political legitimacy that it never had in the rest of Canada.

    The most stunning development to me in the whole 2008 December Coalition was the backing it got from the staunch federalist Jean Chrétien. He encouraged making a poltiical pact with peolple whose raison d'etre is the destruction of Canada as we know it. And that was the one thing I respected him for.

    • To be clear, I respected Jean Chrétien's staunch federalism, not that he encouraged the Coalition deal with Duceppe. Maybe I shouldn't be that surprised: this is the man after all who all but lost the 1995 referendum because of how the federalist side got mauled by the separatists during the referendum campaign. A federalist campaign which he himself directed.

      Canada came within a whisker of being destroyed under Jean Chétien watch and direction. He also, unwittingly no doubt, helped the separatist's cause with his contribution to the 2008 Coalition.

      Jean Chétien should stick to golf.

      • To be fair – Chretien didn't have a hand in the referendum campaign until its dying days. That was a mistake, and a regret that he himself has expressed. The idiots in the PLQ insisted that "Ottawa" stay home.

        But jarrid, if you think the federalist side might have performed a little better under the leadership of Preston Manning, you are entitled to your own view.

        • Your point about Chretien being sidelined by the provincial Liberals until the 11th hour is quite valid. I'd forgotten about that.

    • Um, recall that Harper legitimized the idea of coalition with the bloc long before the Liberals did. And the Dec 08 coalition was only NDP-Liberal, with Bloc support.

      • "… the Dec 08 coalition was only NDP-Liberal, with Bloc support."

        The Bloc were the kingmakers in the December 1st Coalition agreement, without their support, signed on the dotted line, the coalition could not have gotten off the ground. Those 49 Bloc MPs were crucial to the success of the coalition.

  17. Er, like them or not, Bloc MPs are democratically elected by their constituents. Having watched them in parliament, I've found them to be honourable, respectful of our system and our rules, and willing to work with other parliamentarians. I have no problem with them taking the oath. In fact, indications are that they are more likely to live up to it's spirit than either the Liberals or Conservatives.

    Now if only they'd quit trying to break up the country…

  18. Coyne, Can't one respect and be loyal to a couple and still recognize that they would be better off separated? Indeed, if one believes they would each be better off on their own, how could one remain loyal and not support their separation?

    On numerous occasions, Bloc leaders have made the case that not only would Quebec be better off as a separate country but that the ROC would benefit too. Indeed, many of the same group that will support you strongly in this will have written other posts under the general meme "why don't they just go already". In addition to the jughead argument, there have recently been several serious commentators arguing that the economic contortions that Canada goes through to appease Quebec may not be worth it.

    I don't personally buy any of the above. The Bloc leadership may or may not believe that the ROC will be better off as an intellectual argument, but I don't for a minute believe they actually care. Nevertheless, their signing of the oath is consistent with their previous arguments because always a true loyalist means being true to both the people and the institutions of a country. If those two interests come in conflict, (which the Bloc would argue they are) then the interest of the people must take priority.

  19. An athiest has to swear on the Bible if he/she goes to court. Does that mean he/she can lie because they don't believe in the Bible?

    • "An athiest has to swear on the Bible if he/she goes to court."

      What planet do you live on OT, seriously?

    • They don't have to swear on a bible anymore. They just have to raise their right hand and swear an oath to tell the truth to the court.

      • I wasn't aware of that – thank you for letting me know. The issue is on my mind actually (I'm not insane) because someone I know will be called as a witness in a court case. This person is a devout athiest and some friends have been teasing him about swearing on the Bible.

        Just timing.

        • Your point is a good one. I agree, swearing on a bible despite atheistic beliefs does not make one dishonest or unprincipled in my opinion. It's just something they're expected to do because the system requires it (or used to require it as the case may be). As I stated below, Sinn Fein candidates who have been elected to the UK Parliament have always refuesed to take their seats specifically beacuse they woulnd't swear an oath to the Queen. Yet I do not believe this more "principled" stance is in any way favourable to the Bloc's.

          • Have you guys event been to court? A Canadian court? You do not raise your right hand and place your left on the Bible, that is an American thing. The Bible (If you so wish it) is place in front of you and you solemnly swear or affirm that you with tell the thruth etc.. etc..

  20. It essentially means as much as oath all those wonderful soon to be Bloc MP's took after the 1988 election. Of more concern is how much the security clearance investigation means. Probabaly about as much as the one conducted on Marcel Masse when he became Minister of national Defence in 1991….remember he became the chair of one of the committees that went around Que leading into the referendum…not studying but propogandizing independence.

    Anyway, we dont have a brain scan to see if any of these MP's are committed to other struggles that would take precedence over their stated committments.

    The only answer with the Bloc members is the old Reagan statement, trust but verify. It would be irresponsible of CSIS or whoever the appropriate agency is not to be looking for leaks from anyone on that committee.

  21. I'm no Bloc apologist, but I think your premise is wrong. The Bloc don't seek to destroy Canada, they only seek to take Quebec out of it. While this would certainly be disruptive, to state that Quebec separation automatically leads to the destruction of the rest of Canada as an entity reveals little faith in durability of our our society and institutions, and far too much weight to the importance of Quebec to the national fabric. Quebec leaves, and we all go boohoo, fold up tent, put away the flag and join the U.S.? Hardly.

    Anyway, you could probably argue that Bloc MPs are capable of being loyal to Canada right up until the moment they are no longer a part of Canada, if they achieve their aims legitimately and democratically.

    • If the Bloc want to "destroy" Canada, then by that logic all the "Please, we've had enough of your whining Quebec, just leave" Canadians are equally treasonous?

    • "The Bloc don't seek to destroy Canada, they only seek to take Quebec out of it."

      Thats tantamount to my doctor saying he doesn't want to kill me, he just wants me to exist with a few less vital organs. The fact is that Canada includes Quebec. Without Quebec, Canada becomes something different. There is no "rest of Canada" in Canada, there is only Canada.

      • So if Quebec does leave sourstud, will you be the first to throw yourself off a bridge? Life will probably just go on for me

        • Hehe, nope – not throwing myself off of anything any time soon (except maybe a good looking blond lady) . I wouldn't shed a tear for Quebec leaving Canada. Legally however, Canada still includes Quebec. Till that's changed, by whatever means, I still consider Quebec to be Canadian.

  22. I think it's a little immature to say that the Bloc want to "destroy" Canada. But I have a crazy idea: Why doesn't someone ASK the Bloc MPs what they think of the oath? If only there were poeple who got paid to ask politicians questions rather than idly speculating…

  23. What about anti-monarchists, should John Manley have been allowed to serve in Cabinet?

  24. Merits of the author's argument aside, it seems like the alternative would be to prevent certain elected members of parliament from taking seats or participating in certain government activities based upon an interpretation of a very general statement. Given these two choices, I think we go with the right one.

  25. I had the same reaction as Coyne when I read the oath. I thought how could any Bloc member of the committee sign that oath? Obviously it is a farce and really doesn't mean anything.

    The Bloc will tie themselves into pretzels trying to explain how they can sign such an oath but we all know as Coyne says it is a lie.

    It really doesn't matter because the results of reviewing 40,000 pages of documents will take years and by that time Harper will have his majority, the Libs will have a new leader, Gilles will be still trying to break up the country and Jack will be on the outside looking in.

    • It sill matters in that seeing people perjure themselves so casually is destructive.

      Time was when traitors won seats in parliament, they would refuse to take them (or they'd be expelled) because they couldn't in good conscience take the oath.

      • Actually, I'm far more comfortable with those who just "go along with the oath because we have to" than with the more principled types who would refuse to take such an oath. I've provided an example of what I mean below.

      • Like Sinn Fein MP's….they wont swear the loyalty to the Queen oath. They are allowed to speak, they can ask questions but they arent allowed to vote. Perfectly reasonable.

        Now the SNP takes the oath and gets their vote, like the Bloc.

    • "Gilles will be still trying to break up the country"

      No, he won't. Gilles will be quietly collecting his massive pension from the taxpayers of the country he loathes so much.

  26. You can't contract away legal rights, and you can't oath away UN recognized human rights, such as the right to self determination.

    Yes, the oath clearly contradicts the Bloc's raison d'etre. It also would be problematic for myself and a few million other Canadians who do not support Canadian positive "rights", which are arbitrary to begin with and arbitrarily enforced, and aren't rights but rather serious incursions of liberty which make us less free.

    • Great, so Quebec is divisible after all…..glad there is broad agreement on that…..well except from the sovereigntists

  27. Hate to disagree with Andrew Coyne, who is probably one of the few sensible conservatives I know, but to "…be faithful and bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people…" is in regards to this particular situation, and is not intended to preclude future considerations of a political nature.

    Being faithful to the process and its results is all that is intended here obviously, the point being that they agree not to abuse the information and abide by the terms.

    If democracy is to mean anything one cannot start out by assuming that a political position that is legal and supported by the populace is somehow treasonous or infers a lack of basic respect for others or the rule of law.

    You're seriously reaching here Andrew.

  28. There is nothing in Canadian law that forbids one from pursuing changes to the constitution of Canada. There is even a law that explains how secession is to be negotiated. There is nothing undemocratic or un-canadian about pursuing these goals, within the framework of Canadian law.

    Actually, Gomery in his report stated that the Prime Minister has an obligation to protect Canadian unity, or something to that effect. I've been wondering where he got that from – if anyone knows, please pass on. I would tend to agree with Mr. Harper's view that it doesn't matter whether we have one, two or several national governments.

  29. Coyne, here's a question.

    I agree with you that all the Bloc MPs have been perjuring themselves since that by-election win in 1990. (Previous members of parliament could claim to have taken the oath in good faith as Progressive Conservatives or Liberals in 1988.)

    That being said, what should be done?

    The old remedy was to expel members for that sort of act — as has happened a few times in Canadian history.

    I'm guessing the reason why it wasn't done in 1993 is that expelling 60 Quebecois members of Parliament — the Official Opposition — would have tossed gasoline on the national unity file that was then on fire.

    Do you suggest that we should expel the entire Bloc caucus?

    If not, what would you have us do?

  30. From a Bloc point of view they are not "dedicated to the destruction of Canada". They view their political project as emancipating Quebec, which, as another commenter noted, they think would be positive for both Quebecers and Canadians. I know this is hard for people like Andrew Coyne to understand but for your average sovereigntist the movement is not nearly as much anti-Canada as it is pro-Quebec and they have no interest in unduly harming Canada.

    Also since René Lévesque the movement has been highly democratic. Coyne cites the possibility of declaring a UDI as evidence against this, and he has a point, but that would only follow after a "winning" referendum vote, at which point we would all be improvising, Clarity Act notwithstanding.

    It is not in anybody's interests to treat Blocistes as "traitors". Treating them like that may end up producing the very effect you are trying to prevent.

    • Further to my earlier post, here's an analogy that might help. Imagine that you, as a Canadian, were somehow elected to the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate. Now you might not feel the same sense of loyalty to the U.S. as Americans do but at the same time you're not DISLOYAL to them, you have no interest in harming the U.S. and you understand that your role is to serve your constituents, all your constituents, and, in a certain sense, the larger polity as well.

      Now you might be called upon to pledge a loyalty oath to the U.S. constitution at some point. As a Canadian you don't have "loyalty" to the U.S. per se but you kind of like this job and it's just one of the things you have to do to keep it so you mouth the words without taking the sentiments too seriously.

      The only time you might have a real problem on your hand is in situations where their is a direct conflict between your Canadian loyalties and your role as a U.S. legislator (perhaps some kind of bilateral trade dispute) but I don't think the Afghan detainee case is one where there is likely to be this kind of conflict.

    • emacipating French Quebecois to be exact. They arent interested nor would they claim to represent anyone who isnt French speaking…..and they struggle with the "pure laine" thing, but I actually think they are mostly over that and are focussed on language….well thats because the old stock can dominate for the moment. See the accomodation debate for how close to the surface that is.

      • Hi Vince,

        Certainly there is still an "ethnic" element to Québécois nationalism but I don't think there's ever been a nationalist movement that didn't have this aspect to it. But what does that have to do with Coyne's post?

        • In response to your Bloc point of view argument, that they really arent destroying anything. They are destroying something and it is for not particularly noble reasons.

          The link to Coynes article would be support for the notion that the Bloc's goals and core are at odds with the oath.

          • I'M not saying that they're not destroying anything. I'm a federalist and believe a Canada which includes Quebec is worth fighting for. But I'm saying from a BQ point of view they wouldn't see what they were doing as destructive.

            The challenge of living in a bi-national (or multi-national if you count First Nations and Newfoundland and the Acadians, etc.) country is to place yourselves in the shoes of others. That takes imagination and empathy. And it's not only the sovereigntist side that is lacking in those virtues.

          • Wonderful realtivsim on display. sovereigntists are just Canadians with another point of view. But I think it is imperative to know and understand their agenda and who and what they are at their core. Last week, as if on cue Duceppe sent a letter out to other governments saying a referendum was coming soon and Quebec would be independent. And the point of that was to build up a unified Canada? Oh yeah, its just another Canadian viewpoint and I am lacking sufficient imagination to walk in his shoes….if defending this is what passes for Federalist Liberals these days then they should fold tents and leave the field.

            I dont think you really have walked in their shoes, because I dont think you get their objectives. Thats not a failure of imagination, thats just plain denial.

          • Ah so now empathy and imagination is "relativistic"? Ha! Perhaps you should join the Republican Party south of the border.

            First of all, just because I sign off as "Anon Liberal" does not make me a spokesperson for the LPC. There are a variety of views towards the QC sovereignty movement within the LIberal Party and mine is only one of those. It happens to be informed by the fact that I am bilingual and bicultural and therefore it is relatively easy for me to see things from both points of view.

            Secondly I am completely aware of Duceppe's objectives. EVERYONE is aware of Duceppe's objectives. They are hardly a state secret. It's the entire raison d'être of his political party. And sending letters to other governments promoting QC sovereignty is entirely consistent and predictable with those objectives. You and I might not like those objectives or letters but so what? He has a right to do it. Just like the Government of Canada would have a right to respond to those letters. Would you deny him that right?

            Canada has been very smart not to over-react to the sovereigntist movement and to practice tolerance. I think that's the main reason Quebec is still part of the country and why the sovereigntist movement has never became extremist or violent like so many secessionist movements have in other parts of the world. But I get the feeling if guys like you or Andrew Coyne were in charge of Canada Vince that tolerance would have been on much shorter supply. That might be emotionally satisfying for you but it would not be in Canada's interests.

          • Empathy isnt relativistic, holding all things as equivalent and never critically evaluating is. What this leads to, or possibly comes from, is a constant sense of accomodation in the mistaken sense that appeasement is tolerance. That isnt empathy and imagination, it is a feather in the wind.

            Tolerance isnt at issue here. What I have said is that the nature of sovereigntists and their agenda be recognized and dealt with on that level. I am saying one would be a fool to blindly trust a group whose open and stated ends are counter to the oath they are taking. You might be forced to "trust", take them at their word, but that doesnt mean you dont verify or protect yourself. By your argument then the Bloc should be allowed into the executive branch and you would have no trouble with them serving as intergovernmental affiars, or in the defence portfolio….I mean they swore an oath, what could possibly go wrong.

          • Appeasement really? That's the word you want to use? Whatever dude.

            Keep trying to force people to pick sides and I'll keep trying to keep the temperature down.

          • None of this makes them any less legitimate as representatives of their ridings. It just severely limits what you believe from them, and what aspects you rely on them for and where their interests lay. You claim to have your eyes wide open about the Bloc, yet you insist on turning it into group therapy where if only we understood them more they would share our interests. They dont at a fundamental level, any alliance is temporary and transactional.

            How you turn this into being about a lack of empathy is beyond me, its wooly headed emotionalism.

          • I never said "if only we understood them more they would share our interests". What I was trying to say is that if we only understood them more we wouldn't think of them as "traitors".

  31. Interstingly, whenever Sinn Fein candidates (i'm probably spelling that wrong) have been elected into the UK Parliament, they've always refused to take their seats, because doing so would require an oath of loyalty to the Queen. But I'll take Gilles Duceppe and his far less principled stance any day of the week. Our seperatists only seem problematic until we start looking at other countries.

    • I comented above, they take their seats but cant vote. They can speak but no voting, the SNP take the oath and get to vote.

  32. So, I most certainly don't want to come off as a Bloc apologist, but I do think a few commenters above have made an interesting point.

    If (and perhaps it's a big if, but go with me for the sake of argument) a Bloc MP honestly and truly believes in his or her heart of hearts that the political separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada is in the interests of BOTH the people of Quebec AND the people of Canada, would not the "loyal" thing to do be to advocate for that result?

    Again, that may take a leap of belief on the part of non-separatists, but it would, at least on the surface, seem consistent with the oath.

    Arguments against that hypothetical?

    • If you can tell me how that allows him to "be faithful and bear true Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II" — well, you're a smarter man than I.

      Separatism = loyalty, up = down, left = right.

      • Good point. That would indeed be a trickier oath to square with this understanding, perhaps impossible.

        I was only really looking at the oath at hand for the sake of this argument.

        • By the by, the 1995 referendum proposed that Quebec maintained its link with the Commonwealth.

          • Surprisingly, Parizeau is quite the anglophile. I doubt it was sincere or high priority, just something else to get upset about when they were inevitably booted out.

          • I wouldn't be shocked if Parizeau actually wanted to keep the Queen — which would have squared him, at least, with the oath to the Queen, had he ever decided to become an MP.

            But he'd've been overruled by the rest of the movement, I'm sure.

          • Maybe, maybe not.

            There's definitely an antipathy towards the monarchy I think (and not limited to separatists), but I think there's also a feeling that the monarchy is arguably a big reason that French culture in Quebec didn't go the way of French culture in Louisiana.

          • Support for the monarchy is somewhere south of 25% in Quebec, and has been for decades.

            So, sure, there are more Quebecois monarchists than just Jean Chretien, say, but it's pretty clear that an independent Quebec would be a republic.

    • See, but you're separating the people of Quebec and the people of Canada. They're not separate groups of people, the latter includes the former. By advocating the separation of one province from Canada, you're advocating the separation of all provinces from Canada, which means Canada ceases to exist.

      • By advocating the separation of one province from Canada, you're advocating the separation of all provinces from Canada

        Well, first, by "advocating the separation of one province from Canada, ONE would be …" Keep in mind thatI am certainly in no way whatsoever advocating any such thing. That aside, I'd also argue that your first premise is not necessarily followed by the other.

        Also, the people of Canada does include the people of Quebec, no doubt, but if you then simply re-word the argument to argue that "the political separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada is in the interests of BOTH the people of Quebec AND the people of rest of Canada", I'm not certain that your objection, on that ground, doesn't go "poof!".

    • The crux of this argument would seem to be that the belief that the political separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada would be of benefit to both Quebec and the ROC. Of course, I think that's hogwash, however, I'm not sure I'd go so far as to claim that it's somehow metaphysically impossible for that to be the case. I certainly leave open the possibility that a person could honestly believe such a thing, even if I think it's idiotic.

      If one honestly believes that the separation of Quebec from Canada would be the best possible outcome for all concerned and (now, this one's tougher to accept as realistic) one was equally concerned with the well-being of both the people of Quebec, AND the people in the rest of Canada, do you suppose one could take the oath above AND be a separatist, and not have the two be in conflict?

  33. The real question should be why does the Conservative Party feel that an Oath of Loyalty would do anything to prevent leak from occuring? If you are going to break the Confidence of the House, don't you think that individual believe they are acting the the best of the democratic beliefs and processes of Canda, whose rights and freedoms I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey?

    Might as well ask them to swear not to eat babies for breakfast. How any MP take that oath?

    • Swearing to tell the truth doesnt make you tell the truth either. But there are consequences if you are caught lying after you swear. Same here, you get booted off the committee.

      But as I said the more important element, and I hope much more rigorously enforced element, is the Security clearance to Secret. There is a background check done and I believe you sign similar kids of things. I can only hope that the appropriate agencies will be proactive in holding all MP's on that committee to their responsibilities including for the 6 months or more following its conclusion.

      Isn't the better question, how can a Bloc MP obtain Secret clearance after all checks are done….including checks into their political background yada yada.

  34. Andrew give it a break. You are starting to sound like Norman Spector, who can't stand the Bloc because he helped Mulroney create the conditions for the Bloc to be created.

    You say " If you're like me, you have a problem with people who are openly dedicated to the destruction of Canada being privy to our most sensitive national secrets." Doesn't that rule out Stephen Harper as well?

    The Bloc Quebecios and particularly Gilles Duceppe have consistently accomplished their goals by garnering the support of their consituencies and adhering to the democratic rules at play in Canada. That is far more than you can say for Stephen Harper. Altough I disagree heartily with the Bloc position, I don't think they deserve the bashing you have written here.

    • yeah its all Norman and Brians fault. Lucy Bouchard just woke up one morning after he felt betrayed and formed the Bloc and all those MP;s decided it was a good idea to follow.

      There was more betrayal than Canadians really know and has been reported.

  35. Don't all the Bloc MPs already have to swear the 'Oath of Allegiance'

    "I, [name], do Solemnly swear (affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors according to law, forever. So help me God"

    What is the difference?

  36. Perhaps we are getting over-reactive and the idea of destroying Canada is hysterical? I mean even if they did leave would not Canada exist in some form or another?

    As long as they are part of Canada they can take the oath as Quebec is part of Canada as of right now.

    Don't see a big conflict really. I'm sure a lawyer would see it my way, not that that is going to endear me to anyone here :D

  37. Don't worry about it Andrew, as soon as Harper gets his majority, MPs will all be saying the 'Oath of Allegiance to Stephen'

  38. FINALLY, someone who takes that oath seriously. But we are in a post modern Canada where there are no absolute standards and nothing means what it says. In short, the oath is considered an anachronism. What are we going to do with them? Try them for treason?

  39. Stephen Harper is more dedicated to the destruction of Canada than Gilles Duceppe. Sometimes Andrew you are just way too Torontonian.

  40. My MP is Bloc Quebecois. I did not vote for him, but he is my representative and represents my riding's voice in the Federal legislature. That is how a representative democracy works. How dare Mr. Coyne suggest my democratic rights are somehow less worthy and that I should be disenfranchised just because of the political party affiliation of my MP!

    How undemocratic.

  41. In Quebec, we have voted like every canadiens for our MPs. Why would the Bloc MP have differents privileges than the others? Why the MP from place X would have rights that the MP from place Y doesn't have, Bloc MPs are not terrorist, they defend an ideal for Quebecois and they have full right to look at those national security documents… unless we are not living in the same country… I am sorry Mr. Coyne but I am sorry that ROC still uses Quebec bashing.

  42. The Bloc should have nothing to do with the Government of Canada. They should be a Provinical Party only. I thought we had clever people in Governement….obviously not or the Bloc would be ousted from parliament. It is clear to me that the Bloc is interested in one thing and one thing only…… to separate! How can they in good faith make any decision about what's best for the whole country when they only think about themselves and what's good for Quebec?

  43. I, [name], swear (or solemnly affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and freedoms I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey. I further swear (or solemnly affirm) that I will not communicate or use without due authority any information obtained in confidence during the review of documentation.

    Sure does seem proper however i expect it is just not the Bloc.

    What about former PM Brian Mulroney, who not only sold out for himself but for his country also.

    The Bloc is not the only ones who betray Canada`s interests!

  44. I can remember our loyal, patriotic and righteous Peter MacKay signing an agreement with fellow Conservatives vowing to never make a deal with the Reform Party. Shortly thereafter, he did. The point is that Gilles Duceppe (I strongly disagree with his separatist orientation) has probably more personal integrity than MacKay or indeed Stephen Harper. Both have demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice national interest for personal political gain. At the least, Duceppe will try to keep them honest, something that appears to be more and more difficult to do. I suspect Duceppe will not be selling state secrets to Iran or North Korea. I also suspect that his intention is not to "tear our country apart", but rather to promote a different political structure. I disagree with this, but it is a position that seems to have some resonance in Quebec, judging by the number of BQ members elected. Using the same logic of exclusion, perhaps the Conservatives should also be barred from the committee based on the numerous unpatriotic examples of contempt of parliament. Being a democracy, we will just have to hold our noses and let them both participate.

  45. People of Canada who believe in Canada believe in its laws including the the clarity act.A BLOC member swears loyalty to Canadians if he/she recognises that the will of Canadians is to maintain or adjust the size of the present federation is to be done by adhering to rules prescribed by the clarity act.
    It is Andrew Coyne who could not swear loyalty to Canada because he is not able to swear to uphold the clarity act.
    It is Andrew Coyne that does not recognise the laws and rights all Canadians enjoy.
    If Ontario wishes to leave Canada and is committed to adhering to the clarity act would Andrew have a problem with a MP from Toronto?
    If you are not willing to trust our democratic institutions how can you say that you believe that you have Canada’s best interest at heart.
    In my view Andrew is not qualified because he is undemocratic and therefore could never have Canada’s best interest at heart.
    If someone is committed to the elimination of the monarchy and follows the democratic procedures to attain their goals are they allowed to be members of parliament even though they wish to remove the monarchy?
    In Coyne’s world they are not worthy Canadians in my world they are true Canadians because they believe in the rule of Canadian law.

    I detest the goals of the BLOC. however if the rules created to protect the will of the people are followed then I’ll support their right to utilise their freedom. Having only anti democratic people in parliament is not good Canada or Canadians.

  46. I'm perplexed by your sudden awakening, Mr.Coyne. Have you not covered Canadian politics for some time now? Seriously, how can you be so dumbfounded by these recent developments if the BQ has been participating within federal elections for over 20 years??!!

    Yes, the BQ: a provincial/seperatist party fully participating within Canadian federal elections (who knew?) and you, Mr.Coyne, like so many other Canadians, think nothing of it untill now!

    Just a simple question, but when you, Mr.Coyne, attended your post secondary education, were you unable to grasp logic or was it simply not taught any longer. Either way: too bad!

    we permit any Bloc MP to take this oath, it is not only the Blocquiste who would be committing a fraud, but us.

  47. The Part of the OAth in Question

    bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and freedoms I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey

    I know the point you are trying to make in regards to the Bloc trying to split up Canada. But you can very well be a speratist and recite this post. Lets look at the laws of Canada. Nowhere in the Consitution of Canada does it say Canada is indivisible. Actually in Re Sucession of Quebec, the Supreme Court of Canada held that Quebec could legally and constituionally seperate, if it was done under the proper procedures and negiotiations.

    Now while I am no seperatist, the Bloc can very well advocate for sucession, but still swear to uphold the laws, the consitution and the princples of Canada The Oath and succesion are not mutually exclusive after the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Re Sucession of Quebec.