Stephane? Is that you? -

Stephane? Is that you?


David Cameron, Britain’s official leader of the opposition, expounds on his vision for British society.

The size, scope and role of the state is of course the scene of a vigorous political debate. But I believe it is pointless to draw dividing lines where none exist – so I want to start my contribution with where we all agree. Ask anyone of any political colour the kind of country they want to see and they’ll say a Britain that is richer, that is safer, that is greener but perhaps most important to us all, a country that is fairer and where opportunity is more equal.

Agree or disagree with what follows, you are, of course, free to contemplate when it last was that a Canadian political leader spoke about this society as Cameron does here about his own.


Stephane? Is that you?

  1. Off base again.

    This is standard, boilerplate stuff. I'm amazed you're finding it to be noteworthy.

    Dion didn't lose because he spouted off these bromides, he lost because he wanted a carbon tax at a time when the economy was starting to weaken.

    • Yes- because we all know that when there is an economic downturn, the atmosphere? It just up and disappears! How convenient!

    • What weakening? Harper said everything was hunky-dory.

  2. I think the more relevant question is when we last witnessed significant numbers of Canadians speaking about their country in that manner.

  3. So, Cameron is saying that he's going to go along with Brown's raising of the top marginal income tax bracket to 50% then, if he's going to draw no lines about the ambit of the state?

  4. I agree with Jesse. This is classic political boilerplate. I bet you can find Iggy or Harper spouting similar crap somewhere along the line.

    Nobody disagrees with these statements because they contain very little, if any, meaning that is not imposed by the listener. Less commitment to any action of a specific sort.

    I’ll confess I’m frustrated by Wherry’s frequent posting, analysis being strangely shallow and off about 2/3rds of the time.

    • But it sure brings out the cranks, doesn't it?

      • Well, if you like the boilerplate, then happy times are here for you. Count me out.

  5. Its kind of mom and apple pie.

    Cameron is trying not to "scare the horses" by fighting off any hint that there is a "hidden agenda". He leads by a significant amount, massively in fact. He has to bridge the gap till next summer when he may or may not face Gordon Brown, who may or may not resign before the next election.

    However, if you read the rest of the speech, did you read it Mr Wherry, it talks of reducng the role of the state in peoples lives, devolving powers from the centre and expecting responsibility… is an old style tory speech.

    Stephane, yeah right, its more Stephen but actually more Stanfield.

  6. Oh Wherry
    On a slow news day why do journalists insist on denigrating M. Dion in headlines? This is a cheap shot. Cameron is pandering – M. Dion gave his vision to the country – it failed because of a systematic attack on his character and his command of English.

    Move on…

  7. Cameron can talk all he likes about what kind of Britain he would like to see but it's no longer up to Prime Minister/Parliament to decide. More than seventy percent of new laws in UK come from un-elected bureaucrats in Brussels. Britain, and all the other EU countries, are no longer sovereign nations making their own laws.

    • Good point Jolyon, ….and I wonder why Quebec separatists look longlingly at nation states in Europe where each individual "nation" has signifciantly less sovereignty than Quebec does now in the federal state we call Canada. It may be one of the reasons why the separatist movement is having so much difficultly gaining traction.

      • Hey, TwoYen. You might appreciate being made aware that another separatist was just elected in Quebec in the last 48 hours and that another one lost by a measly 4%. How do you define "traction" exactly?

        • If all the supporters of the Bloc were separatists, the Bloc would be taking a much harder position on separation than it does. Many of those who vote for the Bloc do not support the separatist option. That's why they try to emphasize the word sovereignty.

        • Pour Gilles Duceppe, qui s'est rendu trois fois prêter main-forte à sa candidate Nancy Gagnon, cette défaite est toute une gifle. D'autant plus que les partielles servent généralement à passer un message au gouvernement, pas aux partis de l'opposition.

          Pour les souverainistes, c'est une deuxième défaite en quelques mois dans le Bas-Saint-Laurent, là où les libéraux de Jean Charest ont gagné une partielle en juin après la démission de Mario Dumont.

          • Bah. A small loss here; a small loss there–cancelled out by a gain here, a gain there.

            What is the Bloc polling in Québec these days, CR? 35%? 38%? That's plenty of traction.

          • You have the Bloc, and you have the passion for Québec independence. You really do not understand Québec if you attempt to equate the two.

          • I was born and raised in Point-Claire, on the West Island of Montreal.

            What I understand is that Québec separatism has been institutionalised by provincial and federal party mechanisms that perpetually draw healthy support. The notion that separatism can be said, at any time, to "have no traction" is disingenuous, and dangerously so. The early René Lévesque was laughed out of court…until 1976.

          • West Island, eh? So I was right, you really don't understand Québec… Joking! I said I was joking!

            But really, you should know better. For one, even the têtes-carrées put an "e" after "Point" in Pointe-Claire. For most of the recent campaigns, both the PQ and the BQ have done their darnedest to ask the electorate to pay no attention to "Article 1" behind their curtain. Neither party has been in any particular hurry to "achieve" the "dream" since your buddy Lévesque and maybe monsieur By-Jove Parizeau. If you think whatever % support for the Bloc means that souveraineté is gaining traction, then you well and truly don't understand Québec.

          • No. If you're actually ready to declare separatism dead based on a superficial reading of the current situation, you really don't understand Québec. Separatism has been given Last Rites by cleverer lads than you many times over the years, and it has always reared its head again. I take it you're old enough to remember 1995, when we almost lost the farm?

            If Québec were really politically stable, anglos in exile like me would return. It isn't, and we won't.

          • Care to point where I administer the last rites? Dude, I am calling you out for equating Bloc support with separatism support. Nowhere do I say separatism is dead in Québec. But I will continue to smirk in your general direction if you think whatever % for BQ means separatism is gaining traction. And I will laugh in your face so hard I will have to offer you a towel if you insist on inventing words that aren't there in order to set up your rebuttals.

          • And I will laugh in your face so hard…

            Laugh all you want, but try to think a bit at the same time. A definition might help.

            "To gain traction" means literally "to acquire the ability to move or be effective". To say what you're saying–that Québec separatism has not gained the ability to move or be effective–is to deny the entrenched position and widespread support its federal vehicle currently enjoys and will continue to enjoy indefinitely. Quibbling about the current coyness of the BQ's separatist intentions is feeble. May I take it that, if a federal Islamist party sprung up in Ontario that highlighted its fiscal programme and soft-sold its Islamism, you would interpret its core support as evidence that its constituency was attracted by its tax-reform proposals rather than its Islamism? Please.

          • Some history. Lévesque's early PQ contested a few elections on a separatist platform. Got nowhere. It contested the 1976 election on a good-government platform. Got elected. In 1980, we had a referendum, and Lévesque almost pulled it off. How much "traction" did separatism appear to have in 1976, pal?

            In 1990, the PQ is a demoralised mess. Many influential former separatists and nationalistes are now Mulroney allies, working towards renewing the constitution. In 1995, those erstwhile federalist allies almost win a referendum. How much "traction" did separatism appear to have in 1990?

            You're not laughing; you're whistling in the dark. As we learned in 1995, that's an excellent way to lose a country.

          • Shall I take it, then, that you were indeed inventing words out of thin air, since you have failed to point out where I am administering last rites?

            Separatism is NOT dead. Never said it was. I shall try again with the simple message: the fluctuating number in the opinion polls next to the "BQ" in no way tells us what Quebecers feel about sovereignty. Although now I worry that sentence may not have been simple enough.

          • …the fluctuating number in the opinion polls next to the "BQ" in no way tells us what Quebecers feel about sovereignty.

            Right. Because support for a manifestly separatist party in no way implies support for separatism. Just like support for the Taliban in no way implies support for Islamism (as their transportation policy is pretty cool, too). Got it.

            Separatism is NOT dead. Never said it was.

            No. You merely agreed with someone who argue that separatism has "not gained traction" in Québec–that it has not been able to mobilise and establish itself as an effective entity. That's totally not saying that it's dead.

            I suppose the bottom line here is that you really don't know what "gaining traction" means, do you?

      • I have long believed that separatists don't really want to separate from Canada because they know they have it pretty good here. Separatists do keep up the din though because they know squeaky wheel/grease and all that.

        I keep thinking EU is going to blow up any day but it never happens. Now that EU has formal president and foreign minister maybe people will react to the behemoth that's making the laws for them regardless of sovereignty.

        • That's highly optimistic.

  8. Anyone else notice that "fairer" is not a word?

    How can something be "fairer"? Something's either fair, or it's not. It's black and white, no middle ground.

    • What if something is unfair, but more fair than it was before. Example: You steal my car. Unfair. You pay me $100 for it. Still unfair, but more fair than before. You pay me $200 for it. Totally fair.

      • Your car is worth $200? No fair!

        • "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in the land is fairest of all?"
          "Queen, you are full fair, 'tis true, but Snow White is fairer than you."

          • Jacob and Wilhelm would have recognised apples and oranges, i.e. two separate definitions of the word. Snow White was not fairer than the mirror because she paid Gaunilon $200 for his car.

        • Well ok, I'm being optimistic here.

    • "Fairer" is definitely a word. It's commonly used, too. You could look it up.

      • Fairer was often used by J.R.R. Tolkien…. or was that fairy…?

        • I don't know. Why don't you ask a member of the fairer sex.

          • I think that's "the fair sex". In that context it really is black and white.

  9. David Cameron. Not a Leader.

    • Well, most conservatives who like Margaret Thatcher would probably agree with that assessment…

      • Yeah and he's probably secretly French.

        • Nah, but his thinking is definitely Continental…

  10. I realize this was about Cameron, but I see him as copying the rhetoric of Obama.
    Was Obama's speech at Fort Hood simply boilerplate? I thought it was one of his best speeches describing America's aspirations. America fails to live up to the perfect ideal but it constantly strives. I would like to hear a Canadian politician make a speech like Obama did. I'll wait.