Liberal Canadians dumbfounded by the events of the past few days have been asking themselves : Why won't Rae or Dion or Kennedy or Dryden stand up and counter the Harper motion? Why won't they stand up for the majority of Canadians who would oppose this new definition of Canada and Quebec?
Where is the leader for the rest of the country? Where is the leader with a sense of history and identity? Where is the leader who would rather advocate on behalf of a just society for all Canadians than offer up 'nation' to a Bloq party who represent a minority of Quebecois, who in turn represent a geographic and sociological minority within Canada?
Well the reasons are becoming increasingly clear to me and I can summarize it this way: Mulroney strategized, Stephen Harper pounced, Bill Graham flinched and the rest as they say is Canadian history.
The minority Conservative government effectively trumped the Liberals and in the context of Canadian politics have done so in dramatic fashion.
What we are left with, just days before the Liberal convention, is a party in shambles. A party forced now - after the vacuous and giddy showing by interim Leader Bill Graham - to abandon 40 years of 'just society' in favour of a hasty and reactionary drive-through brand of nationhood arrangement for Quebec.
One has to ask oneself, what would have happened had the Graham led Liberals not have stood in applause in the house as Harper read his motion? What would have happened if the majority of Liberals took their lead from a most unlikely savant - Jimmy Karygiannis - who today stands as the only member of the Liberal party who can look in the mirror and not see a reflection of a broken, beaten member of the opposition.
Today Mr. Karygiannis is the only member of the Liberal party worthy of centre stage at the convention this coming weekend...and yes I can't believe that I just wrote that.
But more to the point and in response to the original question, what would have happened if Mr. Graham had not led his sheep to slaughter?
First one could argue that had the Liberals not sold out on the Trudeau vision of Canada then either Mr. Rae, Mr. Dion or Mr. Kennedy would have become the new Liberal leader and in opposing the motion would likely have received the support of Canadians in the next Federal election. Instead what we now have is a group of leadership candidates who are left standing in wonder as they line up to endorse the motion for fear of reprisal from their own party who stood in unison save for one Mr. Karygiannis.
Second, one could argue that Harper's motion would have resulted in the end of his government if it was met with bewilderment by the Liberals in the House with puzzled expressions and asses firmly planted in seats. Such a gesture could have secured for the history books yet another brief Conservative Prime Ministerial tenure rivaling those of Charles Joseph Clark and Avril Phaedra Douglas Campbell.
Had the Liberal MP's been reminded by their interim leader that this same Mr. Harper may not be qualified to steer this ship and that this same Mr. Harper voted against Jean Chretien's Distinct Society motion on November 29, 1995 and that this same Mr. Harper described Pierre Trudeau as a "...promoter of unabashed socialism", then maybe with some effort they could have solicited a resounding Liberal and bipartisan outcry from Victoria to Calgary to Halifax and St. John's which could have secured an end to Mr. Harper's government.
Instead we are left with a hollowed out carcass of candidates made up of a rudderless group of yesterdays men (and woman). A group so shallow in their conviction and so clueless of the implications of their actions that in their confusion, they have actually managed to right the listing ship Igantieff and somehow turn his leadership loosing blunder on nationhood into a visionary treaty perversely in line with this new and instant just-add-water Conservative vision of two nations in one.
And so the nation turns. And it does so at the hands of a man who only 16 years ago became an executive assistant to the Reform Party's star - and only - member of parliament, Ms. Deborah Grey, after loosing his bid to win a riding in the Federal election in 1988 by a wide margin.
And all this, my fellow Canadians can all be attributed to two things. First we can thank Paul Martin for appointing Bill Graham to a position that he foolishly thought would be free of any significant leadership requirement and in doing so left the door wide open for Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Harper to exploit the party and in turn the redefine the nation.
And lastly we can point to the hubris of the Conservative Party, aka the Reform Party, aka the Canadian Alliance. Mr. Harper's braggadocio combined with the self-importance of Mr. Mulroney have made for a stew of superciliousness the potency of which this country has never seen and may never see again.
33 years ago tonight
13 minutes ago