A few weeks ago I attended Canada Day festivities in Mississauga and celebrated as so many do with family and friends. Looking around at the flag-waving crowd drawn from every background, I felt full of pride and remarked to my wife just how lucky we are to live in this place and time.
Yet, there are those who would allow Canada to be torn apart; to take the success of our great national experiment and put it at risk. These people believe that all you need to split up this great country is fifty per cent support of a weak turnout, to a confusing question, in just one province and "abracadabra" you can declare independence and leave the rest of Canada wondering what happened. Even more shocking is that this sentiment is endorsed by a national political party.
I'm speaking of course of the NDP.
Most would assume that such an irresponsible position would be the work of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, but the NDP remains the only "federalist" party in defiance of the law of the land. Both Parliament, through the Clarity Act, and the Supreme Court of Canada have declared that separation of any province can only occur after the vote of a clear majority on a clear question. Our House of Commons and our Courts have clearly and wisely stated that you've got to ensure the people are pretty sure about such a big decision.
Yet despite waning separatist sentiment (Quebeckers are more worried about the economy at the moment) Tom Mulcair is giving speeches in Quebec, as recently as a few weeks ago, telling crowds (in French only, of course) that an NDP government would repeal the Clarity Act and make it easier for separatists to break-up our country.
Why would he do such a thing? Why would Mulcair put Canada itself at risk?
That's pandering, pure and simple.
Mulcair hopes to woo separatists into voting NDP and he's putting the healed wounds of our national unity at risk to do so.
I only have one word for this approach: Reckless.
Many remember very clearly the nail-biting atmosphere of the 1995 referendum and how close we came to losing our country. It was a Liberal Government under Jean Chrétien that sought to prevent a similar tragedy by seeking the guidance of the Supreme Court and bringing forward a law that stated that a province seeking to leave our federation could only do so with a compelling mandate on a clear question. It made the separatists furious because we now know so much of their quest for independence depends on confusing voters, getting the weakest of mandates and then unilaterally leaving the country.
In Mississauga Malton residents are rightly concerned about the economy, immigration, infrastructure and the environment. In other words: real issues that affect their lives. Quebeckers are not very different, which is why they recently turfed the Parti Quebecois from power, mostly for the suggestion that they might have another referendum.
All Canadians, regardless of their home province, want a principled federal Government that gets things done, not one that panders, not one that is reckless, and certainly not one that lowers the bar for the break-up of our country.
Canadians will see Mulcair's stunt for what it is. Reckless. Pandering.
Our country is at a crossroads. After nearly a decade of Harper they are hungry for real change and a positive new course. Canadians are already speaking out about the sort of real change that they want but one thing we are not looking for is to make it easier to lose our country. We are fortunate that support for separation in Quebec is at a low. Defying our Parliament and Courts to make it easier for separatists to manufacture "winning conditions" is just not in Canada's interest.
So my challenge to Tom Mulcair is to put his policy on separation in the trash where it belongs and focus on the real issues that matter. Don't think that because you only say something in French that the rest of Canada isn't listening.
Canadians are now paying attention Mr. Mulcair. Don't play this game.
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