Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Liberal Party Is Not A Federalist Party

National unity is a result of principles, not a principle unto itself. Federalism is not an end, but a means, a means for every Canadian to have a government that represents the country's many diverse regions. Though the Liberal Party is within a federal system, it does not exist for a federal system. The Liberal Party exists for a democratic belief, a belief that every individual is equal and has a right to determine, to participate, and to act to change policies, programs, and government. The Liberal Party is not a federalist party, it's about time Liberals realized they knew this.

At this beginning, a New Liberal Party must recognize that its foundational principles give voice to every Canadian, in every province, to act to change government, not with first priority to federalism, but to democracy. For the people in all provinces, including Quebec, this means their right to secede is not only implied from our Party's own principles, but their democratic abilities are given no greater protection and mobilization than from our own resources and organization.

If a clear majority of Quebeckers vote to separate, the party of Laurier, Pearson, and Trudeau, would allow Quebec to separate. This Liberal Party, this Party of Principle would allow Quebec to separate because like our nation, it is not federalism that forms the Liberal Party's foundation, it is democracy.

For a New Liberal Party, if democratic principles are to be finally held as highly as Liberals know they should have been, relations with Quebec will change. Quebec, like all provinces, deserves the freedom to pursue any and all policies; the Liberal Party must be the party that gives Quebec, and all provinces, that freedom.

One imperative action a New Liberal Party must champion is a change to the Clarity Act. The Clarity Act had the correct intention, but as it is written undermines the rule of law. Law must be clear, stable, and not arbitrary, the Clarity Act in its vagueness, in its failure to establish what a clear majority exactly is, is not fair to Quebec or to its people. The rule of law is foundational to democracy, it must be respected, and the Clarity Act itself deserves clarity and revision for a New Liberal Party to be true to itself and its principles.

In the past, driven by an overwhelming sense of fear, not spurned by ill intention but instead noble patriotism, the Liberal Party took on the mantle of the federalist party. With fear of Canada disintegrating, national unity was made the focus of this red organization. Its own principles that place primacy on individual democratic freedoms were subordinated to ensure the collective of our provinces was maintained. Liberals were divided and many in Quebec were lost, because the Party was no longer a vehicle for individuals to change government, it was a vehicle to maintain government.

This inclination to cling to a federalist label has caused a contradiction that to this day has not been resolved, for if the Liberal Party is a party that believes national unity is a foundational principle then how could it recognize Quebec's right to secede if a clear majority votes in favour? A federalist party is either for national unity or it is not, the Liberal Party's position on Quebec is clear, it is not federalist, it is democratic; only fear had made it appear otherwise.

A national party should not take a stand on whether it is federalist or not, it should not even consider if it is or isn't. A British Columbian should not have a voice within a national party on whether a majority of Quebecers want to separate. The decision of secession is up to Quebec, and if the people of Quebec want to separate, it must not just be recognized, it must be endorsed by Quebec Liberals; it must be fought for by Quebec Liberals because it is the will of the Quebec people.

The Liberal Party is not a federalist party, it is first and above all a party that respects an individual's right to vote for their government, for their future. Now more than ever, for the people of Quebec, for the people of Canada, the Liberal Party needs to recognize they knew this, or at the very least that they were once this and they can be it once again.


CK said...

First of all, most Canadians outside of Quebec, as well as federalist Quebecers, support the clarity act. If the Liberals start renoucing it, they will fall in the same kind of trouble NDP has been as of late. Brooke Jeffrey had said in a radio interview that the party had always been mot successful as a panCanadian party. Iheard the interview. She did mean federalist.

Also, as someone who dir vote in the 1995 sovereignty referendum, I can say first hsnd that the question was indeed convoluted & misleading to say the least. Before Referendum, polls indicated 28% of undecided votrs believed a 'yes' vote still meant they kept Cdn passports & still elected MPs to paliament. One of the main reasons the Clarity Act was created. said...

CK, I'm not advocating a renunciation of the Clarity Act.

For democracy, a question on secession needs to be clear but so does the % required for a vote to be successful. As it currently exists there is no such clarity and a government can arbitrarily raise the bar to any level it chooses. Quebeckers deserve to know what is required.

Federalists do not form a PanNational Party, democracy does. The Liberal Party must be the vehicle of democracy not devision.

harperscat said...

The LPC is a federalist party when you define what things such as "a clear majority" are (exit NDP), or what influence the Feds should have in say.. Health Care(exit CPC. Gun Registry, funding for Post-secondary education, inflation-targeting monetary policy (started by Libs in 90s), etc., are strong central government positions in comparison to their rivals. said...

Harperscat, so the Liberal Party is a federalist party in comparision and not in absolute terms?