Sunday, October 14, 2007

Feisty Jean

A report from the Canadian Press that's worth a read today, with highlights from Jean Chretien's just about to be released memoirs. Chretien's certainly tellin' it like it is and isn't holding back.

With the current heightened political frenzy in Ottawa, in anticipation of the Throne Speech, and the recent Liberal infighting, I don't find myself that interested in the settling of scores with the Martin crowd. In fact it's rather tiresome. I did find this part on the Quebec referendum, however, to be much more interesting:
Chretien asserts that he will never debate what he would have done had the Yes side squeaked out a victory in the 1995 referendum instead of being defeated by a mere 55,000 votes. But he then goes on to say that a loss by the No side "would not have led quickly or inevitably to the breakup of Canada."

"No matter what tricks (then Quebec premier) Jacques Parizeau might have held up his sleeve, the reality was that the crooked question had not asked for a mandate to separate. Events would have been chaotic, emotions would have run high but a very slight majority for the Yes side could not have been interpreted as irrefutable proof that a majority of Quebecers wanted to sever their historic links with Canada," he writes.

"Resolving the problems would have taken a long, long time, without any certainty that the separatists would triumph in the end."

Had Parizeau tried to unilaterally declare independence, Chretien says the premier would have had to back that up by taking control over federal institutions in the province and enforcing Quebec's borders.

"And he would have had to face a hell of a fight from Jean Chretien."
This is the fighter that a lot of people came to respect...I wonder, had Stephen Harper been PM at the time, how that referendum vote would have turned out...and what he might have done in the aftermath of a narrow "Yes" vote...I suspect the answer would be much different from Chretien's.