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HARPER AND QUEBEC

Harper’s Faux Pas: Open Letter to the Prime Minister From Dialogue Canada

The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, pm@pm.gc.ca 15 Dec. 2008
Le français suit.

Dear Mr. Harper,
On behalf of the members of Dialogue Canada, we wish to call upon you to never again use your position to spread division and fear across the country.

It is sad to us all that you have become an embarrassment to yourself, the Conservative party and Canada. You must realize you have awakened a hornets’ nest of somnolent nationalists in Quebec, as witnessed by the polls, the media and the rapid decline in the vote for Jean Charest’s federalist government in Quebec. You must recognize the harm you have done to your party and our country. In addition, your rash partisan prose has sown distrust and discord in the rest of the country, especially in the West.

After the Oct. 14 election you recognized your minority position and promised to cooperate with the rest of Parliament. Immediately, in the Economic Update your Conservative party began an ideological attack on unions, women, public servants and the opposition parties. There were no plans for economic stimulus. After your scandalous behaviour in the first week of December, we thought you would be apologetic.

But not at all: with Peter Mansbridge on CBC on Dec. 9 you stubbornly refused to take responsibility for your condemnation of the Bloc Québécois and, by extension, all Quebecers. To this day you and your colleagues persist in stating that all the other parties, and particularly the Bloc Québécois, lack democratic legitimacy. By your actions, you are both turning the rest of Canada against Quebecers and also alienating Quebecers.

You know full well that the people who voted for the Bloc Quebecois, like all other parties, are Canadian citizens who have Charter rights to express their opinions and their votes. You know all parties in Parliament have a claim for our respect whether we agree with them or not. That is of the essence of our Canadian democracy. For you and other members of your party to claim otherwise only leads Canadians to seriously question your wisdom and judgment as Prime Minister of Canada.

You have made a great faux pas in dividing the regions of Canada for your tactical goals. But because many people see behind your game-plan, it is only counter-productive – once again proving that the end never justifies the means. Mr. Harper we call on you to stop playing with words like “separatist” in English-speaking Canada and “sovereignist” in Quebec. We call on you to respect the equal legitimacy of all elected parties.

We call upon you to be worthy of your position as Prime Minister. For an example, you might well look south of the border. After eight years of spreading division and fear in the United States, George W. Bush is now leaving as one of the most despised presidents in American history. At the other end of the spectrum, Barack Obama is saying we must reach out not lash out, we must include not exclude. You should emulate him.

Sincerely,
John E. Trent, jtrent@uottawa.ca , 819-827-1025,
Laurent Isabelle, laurelaine.isabelle@sympatico.ca , 613-225-2449

Published in The West Quebec Post 19 Dec. 2008,
Link:abawqp@videotron.ca