Whose sovereignist is on first?

by Aaron Wherry

While the Prime Minister’s Office tries to explain the difference between Denis Lebel and Nycole Turmel, Pat Martin invokes the red-baiting days of yore.

“In my first life, ‘Are you or have you ever been a member of the communists?’” Mr. Martin said to The Hill Times. “That’s what this ridiculous thing is starting to remind me of…

“I came from B.C. where my union had a lot of communists in it, and I moved to Manitoba and I become the head of the Carpenters Union there right away and it was ‘Aw, he’s a communist that was parachuted in from B.C.,’ which was completely untrue and unfair because I went as far as forming the NDP caucus of the Carpenter’s Union in B.C. because I didn’t want to be associated with the reds,” he said. “This does smack of that, that Red-baiting thing that puts you in such an uncomfortable position,” Mr. Martin said.




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Whose sovereignist is on first?

  1. I just had a quick look on the Communist Party of Canada – they’re celebrating their 90th years as Canada’s socialist party BTW – and nowhere did I find that their mission is the promotion and realization of Quebec’s sovereigny – or of  any other province for that matter.  You can certainly be a communist and your work can be guided by the desire to maintain the unity of Canada as it now exists, while making it a socialist state.  But you can’t be a sovereignist on the one hand and work to maintain the unity of Canada as it now exists.

    You can certainly change your mind about this issue.  You can be an ‘étapiste’ like Harper  and Lévesque and Morin proposed, and work to ensure that your province be at the ready in case a decision taken by the federal government is deemed to disadvantage your province at which point secession done in accordance with democratic principle is feasible (firewall letter).

    All this brings to light how different politics in Canada is these days.  For the first time in my living memory we have a prime minister whose opinion is that it would make no difference to our citizens if there were one, two or ten national governments.  With this kind of leadership, small wonder people get confused. 

    • As a Canadian living in a democracy, I rather enjoy the fact that I am entitled to hold whichever opinion suits me best, and vote for the representative whose views espouse mine closest. I’m fairly attached to that specific set of democratic rights. If enough of my compatriots agree with me on any number of issues, who knows? We may be able to form a movement — perhaps even a political party — to try and implement our worldview through legitimate institutions governed by majority rule. That is, if enough people agree with us after they have been exposed to vigorous, free and unfettered debate with our opponents – whose arguments deserve to be voiced and heard just as much as ours — then maybe we can count on their support at the ballot box, win elected office legitimately, and proceed accordingly with the legislative and executive measures deemed fit to pursue our proposed course of action.

      So far that’s worked fine for me. I’m neither a communist nor a separatist. Guess that means I’ve been on the winning side… Should I ever find myself on the losing side, what should I do? Take up arms to try and reduce support for the winning side, hoping no one votes from the grave?

      Yet “winning” when ad hominem arguments are the only basis on which ideas are discussed – that is, attacking the character of the persons holding different ideas rather than the ideas themselves — is barely worthy of poor-neighbourhood schoolyard bullies, at best. Nary a debate has ever been truly and durably “won” with such rhetorical tactics, and those who resort to such tactics are often prone to extending the voting franchise to cemetaries’ residents as well.

      I hope Canada lasts and endures as a beacon to the world of how democracy and the rule of law can bring together people of such varied horizons as it endeavours to do, into a stable, peaceful, just and prosperous society. However, if in order to preserve the word “Canada” I have to become another jingoisitic fool poxing the houses of those who disagree with me, then I wonder: what exactly is it I’m fighting for?

      • In order to be a Canadian living in a democracy who votes for the representative whose views espouse yours closest means that the candidate will present positions that are coherent.  Asking clarifications from a leader who at once presents two opposite positions on one specific, core policy is not giving in to jingoism or a witchunt.  It is asking for what a politician is suppose to offer : a clear position.

        The word “Canada” may not be a word fighting for but the word Canadian is a different thing.  When it comes to secession from Canada, a politician is proposing that your rights as a citizen of Canada be negotiated and changed because of the will of a majority of your compatriots.  People fight for their rights, in court, in the street, at war, and when it comes to the political discourse citizens need, and should always demand, a clear understanding of what the elected representative intends to do that will affect their rights. We are not strictly governed by majority rule.  The minority (of opinion, or otherwise) has rights.

        • Who in this case “at once presents two opposite positions”? Mrs Turmel was a member of the Bloc until she changed her mind and adhered to the NDP. Her views have been coherent from the start. The NDP was non-existent in Quebec before Mulcair became the second MP ever to be elected by the party in that province. Federally, if her beliefs were left-leaning, the Bloc was the only realistic game in town for most of the past two decades. Likewise, she is being coherent with herself by supporting Québec Solidaire: provincially, it’s the only left-leaning party, unlike the brush many commentators in English Canada are trying to tar it with, QS is separatist only as an afterthought; they became disenchanted with the PQ mostly because they didn’t see it as zealous enough in promoting social justice. Heck, its leader Amir Khadir is on the record saying he voted NDP federally instead of supporting his local Bloc candidate, a fellow by the name of Gilles Duceppe… Indeed, Mrs Turmel’s only crime of coherence is that now that the NDP have become a viable party in Québec, she can find a home more coherent with all of her views, as a federalist and a socialist, within a party that espouses her views even closer than what was on offer before.

          Pray tell: which one of your “rights” would you lose if — heaven forbid – Québec ever did separate following a winning referendum? Would Canada be taken over by a junta of Canadian Forces generals who would impose the war measures act for fear that Toronto might get ideas of its own? Are you afraid a post-separation Canada would curtail your right of free speech to prevent you from spewing venom on the evil separatists traitors for fear of angering the new sovereign country next door? If you fear that the only thing guaranteeing your human rights in Canada is the presence within its borders of a province named Québec, then might I suggest you have bigger issues with Canada than with separatists…  

          • Firstly, you are wrong:  Madame Turmel did not cease to be a Bloc member to adhere to the NDP.  She has been a member of the NDP for nearly two decades, and while a member of the NDP she took up membership in the Bloc, and was a member of both parties, in violation of the membership rules of the NDP, for five years.

            The first right that a Quebec citizen would lose in the event of Quebec secession would be the right to vote in a Canadian election; then mobillity rights, as I enjoyed and which has permitted my husband and I to find employment elsewhere in Canada without interference from governments.  I would not longer in Canada be treated as a citizen in courts of law. In the very least, these rights would be renegotiated by politicians.

            You are way out of line:  I have never spewed hatred about separatists. My mother was a separatist, as was my father and are my brothers and all my nephews and nieces.  I love them and  respect their opinions and choices.  I demand coherent positions because I do respect them: why do you think they don’t deserve clear positions from the politicians who lead them?  You certainly don’t respect my opinion that it’s incoherent to work for the promotion of a Quebec libre dans un Canada uni.  Many years ago this was a famous joke; for you it is a coherent position.  Maybe it is generational.

          • I will take your word on Mrs Turmel, whom you seem to know much more intimately than I, and the internal rules and regulations of the National Democratic Party, and suggest you make your case for expelling her from the party on these grounds at their next convention, which I unfortunately won’t be attending…

            I will try best I can to make sense of the rest of this all: so… you moved OUT of Québec, and fear that, should it separate, the RCMP and/or CSIS would hound you down to take away your passport and strip you of your Canadian citizenship because… Yes, why would they do that? Because you once lived in Québec, have many separatist relatives, and are therefore suspicious for your seditious acquaintances and circumstances? Following the separation of Québec, Canada’s courts would hold that against you as aggravating circumstance? Says who, and upon which basis in law?

            That seems to reinforce my point that your worries have less to do with the separatist movement than about our federation’s commitment to upholding Charter rights as they are enshrined in our Constitution, and that you appear suspicious that the Canadian government is only waiting to pounce to take away your rights and freedoms, does it not? I do not share those fears, and am fairly confident in the Canadian government’s commitment to guarantee and honour the rights I have as an individual…

            Indeed, Quebecers would likely “lose” the right to vote in Canadian elections if they chose to become an independent, sovereign country; to me that only seems fair, but if you would like to extend the voting franchise in Canada to citizens of another country, I suppose the question I would pose to you is: what basis in taxation would their representation have? One presumes, however, that they would gain the right to vote in Quebec elections. It only seems fair that, should Quebecers choose to form an independent country, they should no longer be part of the political process of neighbouring countries, much like Canadians today are not extended a right to vote in U.S. elections, does it not?

  2. Always delightful to read socialists making snarky comments about communists when there is little or no difference for those of us who aren’t left wing. Interesting that Martin has no problem joining socialists but has problems with communists. 

    What does Martin like best about NDP that disturbs him about communists? 

    Freud ~ I once discussed the phenomenon that is precisely communities with adjoining territories, and related to each other in other ways as well, who are engaged in constant feuds and in ridiculing each other …. I gave this phenomenon the name of “the narcissism of minor differences”…..

    http://www.historyguide.org/europe/freud_discontents.html

    NatPost, May 2011:

    “Thomas Mulcair, drew gasps when he said he does not believe the United States government has photographs of terrorist Osama bin Laden. He also hinted there may be “more going on,” behind the scenes of his assassination than the U.S. is making known.”

    TorStar, June 2010:

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper has joined a chorus of voices calling for MP Libby Davies to resign as NDP deputy leader for casting doubt on Israel’s right to exist at a recent Vancouver protest against the Jewish state.

    The Sun, Apr 2011:

    Jack Layton was found laying naked on a bed by Toronto Police at a suspected Chinatown bawdy house in 1996, a retired Toronto police officer told the Toronto Sun.

    George Orwell ~  In addition to this there is the horrible–the really disquieting–prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets theimpression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.

    • Did you shuffle your quote cards or what?

  3. Martin is not equating sovereignists with communists.

    The question, “Are you now, or have you ever been, a communist?” is referring to the climate of fear deliberately propagated by Joe McCarthy’s witch-hunts during hearings of the House Committee on un-American Activities in the ’50s. McCarthy smeared many of his critics with accusations of communist sympathies, without proof, and completely ignoring the fact that, in the so-called Land o’ the Free, people had every right to choose communism.

    Given the glee with which politicians on all sides are now outing their adversaries with allegations of sovereignist sympathies, I think his analogy has some validity.

  4. They should call up Toronto City Council and talk to Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti.  He can identify communists because he knows how they smell.  (I swear to God, he actually said that… go read the article, it’s HILARIOUS).

    Maybe Mammoliti knows what sovereignists smell like too.

    • I’m just gonna go ahead and say that sovereigntists smell like poutine (with real cheese curds, of course) and St. Ambroise Blond.  Mammoliti smells like his own drool, of course.

      • I don’t think so.  I’m federalist to the bone, but I often smelled like poutine and/or St. Ambroise Blond when I lived in Montreal.

  5. Pat Martin?  Is he the same Pat Martin who questioned if Dion could be loyal to Canada and refrain from supporting and arming terrorists because he held dual citizenship?  As far as I know the other country Dion holds citizenship in does not want Canada to cease existing. 

    Well, at least Pat Martin does know a thing or two about witch hunting.  

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