Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Bankruptcy of Liberal Federalism

The release of the testimony from the Gomery commission this week pushed the Popes funeral off the newspaper headlines on Friday. Scandal battering Liberals, poll shows

Damn good thing too, there was enough 24 hr coverage on TV to bore one to tears, with the platitudes given to the leader of this outmoded medieval institution.

On to Gomery, well lets see what has been revealed is that now that Jean Brault of GroupAction spilled the beans last week everyone is now singing like stool pigeons. The Chretien cone of silence has been broken open. And now it comes out that as PMO hack Alain Renault says "It's just the way the world works".

Yep it goes like this. Facing a crisis from doing little or nothing around the 1995 Quebec Referendum the Liberals under PM Chretien panicked after the vote went 49% Yes 51% No. Along with the 1993 election the referendum bankrupted the provincial Liberal organization in Quebec. The Federal Government, an arm of the Liberal Party, under Chretien created a sponsorship slush fund to promote Canadian Unity in Quebec.

The official opposition was the Alliance Party of Canada, which had no base in Quebec nor did the NDP. So the Liberals being the only Federalist party in Quebec naturally assumed that they were THE FEDERALISTS. That the Liberals see themselves, not the Government, as the voice of federalism is key to this mess.

Ever since Trudeau, the Liberals have had a vision of a Quebec within Canada, while the Parlimentary carreerists in the old Tory party and the NDP were weak sisters backing up the Liberal lead against the Quebec nationalists.

With the success of the PQ in coming to power in Quebec despite Trudeau, the two Quebec referendums, the collapse of the Tories into the Alliance and the Bloc Quebecois scared the bejessus out of the Quebec Liberals under Chretien.

But the real problem was that the party organization in the province was broke. So the sponsorship fund to promote Canadian Federalism, read the Liberals, in Quebec became a slush fund to refinance the party.

Now this is business as ususal in Quebec, the Tories under Brian Mulroney did the same thing on a smaller scale and got caught. The business class in Quebec like Bombadier always lobbies the Feds for corporate handouts, it is the legacy of Trudeau Liberalism. And even the PQ is now accused of accepting brown envelopes of cash to approve GroupAction contracts.

Of course this kind of brown envelope politics is not limited to Quebec, it has been practiced by the Liberals in areas like Hamilto, Ontario too. Both Hamilton and Quebec have strong organized crime families that have allegedly been involved with the Liberals through their ties to certain ethnic communities. And this has been the case in Quebec where some of those who are accussed of money laundering for the party have last names like Gagliano, Morselli,and Mignacca.

Was this approved by the PMO under Chretien,? Well the bread crumbs lead that way, but the former PM has plausable deniability built into this affair. He can claim he left his Ministers in charge, and not being one to micro-manage he can say he didn't know. He also has the Liberal arrogance of being able to say, as he has, that only the Liberals fight for Federalism, that Federalism (Trudeau's concept of it anyway) is the Liberal Party.

And that is the subtext to this whole affair, only the Liberals represent all of Canada and the Trudeau vision of a Federalism that includes Quebec, whether they want it or not. The Tories under Brian Mulroney never could say that since they were an amalgamation of soft Quebec Nationalists, right wing populist Western Canadians and Bay Street boys.

The NDP has a policy recognizing Quebec's right to self determination but their 'real politick' is two faced, the elected MP's are all quizzlings for the Liberal Federalist vision. So the only real Federalists are the Liberals, and whatever they do to save Canada from Quebec nationalism is ok.

Whenever the Liberals talk about Federalism it is their federalism, their party policy that integrated the Quebec ruling class into Canada after the Quiet Revolution. It is the continuation Trudeau's war against the Quebec nationalism of the unions and the left.

Which is also why the NDP has been historically locked out of Quebec, even though they are a social democratic party. The PQ and the BQ have the support of Quebec's unions and the left. And their social democatic parties are to the left of the NDP. The BQ is under the leadership of Duccepe who is a Marxist Lenninist and a labour activist.

While the NDP under Smiling Jack Layton a former city councilor, remains the voice of Ed 'I'm a social democrat' Broadbent and the CLC. During the referendum the English Canadian Unions and the NDP joined in mass demonstrations waving the Canadian flag in Quebec and calling for a No vote.

Yep, the Federal Liberals view themselves as the only party capable of maintaining Quebec in Canada. And if that takes creasing some palms, well so be it. Of course it helps when the pork also gets shared back to bail the party out of it's fiscal mess.

This is all the result of the politics of statist federalism, that refuses to reconstitute Canada as a partnership between Quebec and the Rest of Canada. It is the real legacy of Trudeaumania.

Federalism as it is now constituted is a failure. It requires a strong central state, willing to slap down the provinces, which Trudeau was willing to do ("just watch me") and his descendants have no stomach for.

The weak tea federalism of the post-Trudeau era has created the mess we are in. Mulroney tried to bandage over with recognition of Quebec's distinct status not as a nation but as a province, with powers different from other provinces cause it is, the home of one of the Canadian State's founding peoples.

This has left the door open to other provinces like Alberta to challenge the Feds over provincial rights and for the Right Wing Federal Tories to promote a decentralized federalism contrary to the Trudeau vision. Liberaltarian Stephen Harper offers a vision of Canada that would be the creation of ten provincial fifedoms. His version of Canadian Federalism is simply neo-Feudalism.

In fact Trudeau's Federalism is not that of the classical anarchists but the reverse, he stands Bakunin on his head and proposes a new Canadian Nationalism, which had a strong central liberal state in opposition to Quebec nationalism.

"In the great tide of nationalism in the nineteenth century, there was a handful of prophetic and dissenting voices, urging a different style of federalism. It is interesting, at the least, that the ones whose names survive were the three best known anarchist thinkers of that century: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Michael Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin. The actual evolution of the political left in the twentieth century has dismissed their legacy as irrelevant. So much the worse for the left, since the road has been emptied in favour of the political right, which has been able to set out its own agenda for both federalism and regionalism." Colin Ward. The Anarchists Sociology of Federalism

But Quebec does not want special provincial status and never has, it wants state hood, within a new regional confederation. And that could open up a real confederation, not only between the so called English Canadian State and the Quebec State but also with the Aborignal peoples, who were not included as 'founding peoples' of the modern Canadian state.

If this Federalist scandal proves anything it proves that trying to keep a former colonial state under British parlimentary rule founded in 1867 and revised in 1967 is a failure despite Trudeaus best efforts.

We need a new Canadian Confederation, one that recognizes citizens assemblies, the Quebec nation, the aboriginal and metis nations, that eliminates the Senate and allows for greater involvement of political movements through proportional representation. All this a liberal state could accomplish.

But a Liberal state never will.

From bad to worse: MPs fear Gomery revelations could lower public trust
Bruce Cheadle
Canadian Pres
OTTAWA (CP) - Veteran New Democrat MP Bill Blaikie, an ordained United Church clergyman, has never felt a personal whiff of scandal in his 26 years in federal politics.

But the affable Winnipeg MP still fears the stench rising from Justice John Gomery's sponsorship inquiry will taint him and every other federal politician forced to call Ottawa home these days.

"Obviously, my hope would be otherwise: that people would resolve to rise up and do something about it," Blaikie said in a weekend interview from his Transcona constituency office.

"But I think there's a very real danger that it increases cynicism."

It's an almost universal lament as the inquiry unearths a vast cache of riveting testimony alleging Liberal party corruption that is unparalleled in recent Canadian political history.

"People are going to lose faith even in voting," offered NDP Leader Jack Layton.

For a profession that consistently polls at the bottom in public trust rankings, right behind used car dealers, the sponsorship scandal is like a cruel punchline.

Stephen Harper agrees. Federalism in peril: Harper, Liberals to blame And so does the public; Opinions range from 'Liberals must go' to 'all politicians are corrupt'


Larry Gambone said...

Good work Eugene! Most Canucks are not aware that "Canadian Federalism", is really a misnomer. What we have is more of a division of powers within a central state than true federalism. One other thing that needs pointing out is that a genuine Canadian federalism will need more than just a confederation of Quebec, Native People etc. We will also need a federal structure at the lower level of say, counties and municipalities. Otherwise we will end up with just a confederation of smaller centralized states. Power must be broken down to the smallest natural unit - the community - and ideally decisions would be made in mass meetings withy DELEGATES chosen for the higher levels of the federation.

eugene plawiuk said...

Thanks Larry I agree and thanks for pointing that out. Mass meetings though do not have to occur they can be held in community league centres in most cities and in larger housing complexes such as apartment buildings delegates could be selected to attend the community league meetins which in turn would elect delegates to the municipal council which in turn would do the same within the consituent assemblies of the Federation.

Anonymous said...

Where do people who lie within the boundary of Quebec but who don't feel like part of the 'nation of Quebec' go?


eugene plawiuk said...

"the people" who do not feel part of the Quebec nation are the same as those who do not feel part of the Canadian nation, the indigenous peoples who should be recognized as autonomous self governing peoples whether in Quebec, Canada or North America.