Ignatieff: Liberal saviour or sorcerer? (CHANTAL HÉBERT, 9/11/06, Toronto Star)

Now that [Michael] Ignatieff has used the Quebec Liberal leadership debate to firm up his promise to enshrine Quebec’s status as a nation in the Constitution, there is little middle ground left between those two conflicting conclusions.

Either the Liberals believe, as Ignatieff insisted yesterday, that enshrining Quebec’s national character is something that simply has to be done, regardless of the enormous difficulties involved. Or else they will have to agree with Bob Rae that the chances of success of such an enterprise are so slim that they are not worth the immense risk to the fabric of the federation.

In their hearts, there is nothing that most Quebec Liberals would like better than to campaign on Ignatieff’s promise in the next federal election. For more than 20 years in Quebec, their party has been seen as part of the problem rather than part of the solution to the definition of the province’s place in the federation. Over that period, the federal Liberal party has virtually disappeared from francophone Quebec. In Quebec City, where the debate was held yesterday for instance, a measly 9 per cent of voters supported Paul Martin in the last election.

The enduring failure to arrive at some form of constitutional accommodation with Quebec has also fuelled the sovereignty movement and made impossible any attempt at comprehensive institutional reform at the national level.

People who thinks of themselves as a nation are one.

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