Tuesday, September 28, 2010

National identity should be Harper's goal

Sometime over the last 24-hours, I either heard or read a superb commentary on the consequences of the parliamentary vote to continue the long-gun registry.

Interestingly, the author put it in the context of the prime ministerial responsibility to draw the country together rather than setting one part of the country against another. His point was that immediately after the vote on the long-gun registry, Stephen Harper’s reaction was to pronounce that different regions of the country would be very upset with the result – in many ways, pitting urban against rural jurisdictions since that’s where the Tories seemed to focus most of their advertising and lobbying efforts.

Perhaps one of the reasons that Stephen Harper has not been able to achieve majority government is just that … his is a political philosophy of division rather than unity. He was one of the founding members of the Reform Party, but ended his first stint as an MP to join, and shortly thereafter head, the National Citizens Coalition. He built his foundations on western alienation and has done nothing to try to lessen that, realizing that it is his power base. Harper has argued that national conservative governments between 1917 and 1993 were founded on temporary alliances between Western populists and Quebec nationalists, and were unable to govern because of their fundamental contradictions; however, nearly four years ago in November 2006, Harper introduced a motion to recognize that "the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada."  Do I hear a hint of political expediency?

Harper’s apparent weakness is that he does not have a vision of Canada as a united country, but instead as the sum of its parts. He would do well to read the Canada Broadcast Act which says in part that the role of the CBC is to promote national identity and cultural sovereignty – a good goal for the man who wants a majority government more than anything else. That does not mean doing extended photo ops in Canada’s Arctic territory. What it does mean is promoting our national identity and unity as a people instead of his own narrow political ambitions.

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