Kennedy Stands Up For Canada

What do I want in the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada?

I want someone who takes principled stands and sticks to his convictions, even when the risks are huge for doing so. I want someone who speaks on behalf of all Canadians and refuses to say that some ethnic groups or provinces are more equal than others. I want a Liberal Party leader who doesn’t follow Stephen Harper’s lead on federalism.

Like Warren said, this took guts, character and leadership. He could have meekly gone along with the Harper/Ignatieff motion, like most have chosen to do. Instead, he’s chosen to do the difficult thing because it’s the right thing to do.

The Liberal Party has never been successful when it caved to separatist demands. Just look at the last four party leaders and see which ones had success in Quebec and which ones failed there. In a year’s time, the Prime Minister of Canada could be facing increased demands from Premiers Boisclair and Morton and I know who I want in charge when that happens.

Grit leadership hopeful Kennedy bucks tide, opposes Quebec nation resolution

OTTAWA (CP) – Liberal leadership hopeful Gerard Kennedy has decided to buck the tide of political opinion, coming out against a parliamentary motion recognizing Quebecers as a nation within a united Canada.

The Canadian Press has learned that Kennedy will issue a statement Monday opposing the motion, just as the House of Commons prepares to debate the surprise resolution introduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week.

In so doing, Kennedy will become the only Liberal leadership contender to reject the motion, which has been embraced with varying degrees of unease by his seven rival candidates, Harper’s Conservatives, most Liberal MPs and the New Democrats. Even the separatist Bloc Quebecois has come on side.

A senior Kennedy source said the third-place contender believes the motion is irresponsible and wrong for Canada.

Kennedy believes the motion raises expectations of eventual constitutional entrenchment of Quebec nationhood without defining what is meant by the word nation. Moreover, he is worried that the motion will deepen divisions in the country, the source said.

Kennedy, a former Ontario education minister, does not have a seat in the Commons but is issuing his statement in advance of the vote on Harper’s motion, expected late Monday.

Kennedy’s decision could give him a boost at this week’s leadership convention among Liberals who are adamantly opposed to recognizing Quebec nationhood but have no other outlet for their concern.

Leadership front-runner Michael Ignatieff has enthusiastically endorsed Harper’s motion, claiming that the push to recognize Quebec’s nationhood began with his campaign. His principal rival, Bob Rae, and the lone Quebec contender, Stephane Dion, have grudgingly supported the motion despite reservations.

Kennedy has only two per cent support among Quebec delegates to the leadership convention in Montreal and, therefore, little to lose by distinguishing himself from his rivals.

He could also be hailed as a hero by the so-called Trudeau federalists in the party, who agree with the late Liberal icon Pierre Trudeau’s adamant rejection of anything that smacks of special status for Quebec. The former prime minister’s sons, Justin and Alexandre Trudeau, have spoken out against the motion. Justin last week endorsed Kennedy.

Ignatieff started the debate over Quebec’s identity by coming out early in the campaign in favour of recognizing the province as a nation and eventually enshrining that status in the Constitution. The Quebec wing of the party subsequently proposed a resolution, to be considered at this week’s convention, recognizing Quebec as a nation within Canada and calling for creation of a task force to advise the next leader on the best way to “officialize” that status.

That resolution sparked a ferocious debate within the party. Ignatieff supported it but his rivals, particularly Rae, Dion and Kennedy, opposed it, fearing it would lead the country into another bout of corrosive constitutional wrangling.

Last week, the Bloc tried to drive the wedge deeper by introducing a motion calling on the Commons to recognize Quebecers as a nation – with no mention of Canada. Harper pre-empted the Bloc by introducing his own counter-motion.

Harper’s carefully chosen wording – specifying that the Quebecois, not the province, form a nation “within a united Canada” – won over Dion, Rae and most Liberal MPs.

The fate of the more controversially worded Liberal resolution remains to be settled and the issue could yet rupture the party’s leadership convention.

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