September 10, 2009
Ignatieff, War & Quebec
The "large policy" for English Canada, the "home rule" for Quebec
by Pierre Dubuc
We consider this article important in the context of a coming election. Reprinted from www.lautjournal.info. We apologize for mistakes in translation.
The Liberal Party of Canada has unveiled its pre-publicity campaign to promote their new leader. In the English version, Michael Ignatieff is presented as a head of state. In the Quebec version, the emphasis instead is on the Harper government's record. In other words, the "high politics" for English Canada, the "home rule" for Quebec.
The arrival of Michael Ignatieff is the sign of a recovery in the hands of the Liberal Party in accordance with the ambitions of the most reactionary elements of the Canadian ruling class who want Canada to play an active military role alongside the United States. In this scheme, there is a necessity to marginalize Quebec, considered too pacifist.
In recent years many books have been published in English Canada developing this perspective. For example, in Whose War is it? How Canada Can Survive in the post-9/11 World, J. L. Granatstein argues this Quebec's pacifism is an obstacle to Canada's international ambitions. After recalling the crisis of conscription during the two world wars and, more recently, opposition to the Iraq war and anti-missile shield the U.S., the author writes that "if Quebec can claim its own jurisdiction in international relations, English Canada would also have its own foreign policy, especially an international role that goes beyond that of peacekeepers to maintain peace and political advocacy in support of a more active role." In other words, UNESCO Quebec, Canada for the NATO-English.
Granatstein accuses that Quebecois pacifism has more or less plagued Canadian politics, and more specifically the Liberal Party, making it responsible for Jean Chrétien's decision not to participate in the war in Iraq. "The key to this opposition, he wrote, was the opinion vehement anti-war Quebec Prime Minister Chretien apparently shared."
In "The Unexpected War, Canada in Kandahar," the authors Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang describe the vicissitudes of foreign policy and defense of Canada that led to this decision by the Chrétien government and the Martin government to reject the Shield missile. They speak of a pacifist Liberal drift, whose cause lies primarily in their opinion in the Quebec caucus.
In these circumstances, Michael Ignatieff is the man designated to bring all the Liberal Party into a trajectory more consistent with interests of the Canadian ruling class and military establishment.
As a star reporter for the BBC, Michael Ignatieff supported the NATO bombing in Yugoslavia. Later, as director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard, he spoke publicly in support of the invasion of Iraq and the policies of restriction of civil liberties by the Bush administration, even going so far justification of torture.
In cases where these safeguards do not suffice, he may invoke the fact that his father, George Ignatieff, was Canada's ambassador in Yugoslavia and Canada's representative to NATO. Michael Ignatieff has also found it necessary to publish True Patriot Love, in which he recalled the services rendered to British imperialism and Canada by his maternal ancestors.
His great-grandfather on his mother's side, George Monro Grant, was distinguished for having participated in the first expedition to establish the route of the first transcontinental railroad and supported the crushing of the Metis Rebellion led by Louis Riel. In the late nineteenth century, he enlisted in the armed forces to respond to the call for Britain to go and quell the rebellion of the Boers in South Africa.
Later, at the outbreak of the First World War, it was the turn of his son, William Lawson Grant, responding to this call to England with the publication of "Our Just Cause", a full and enthusiastic bellicose pro-war pamphlet.
No wonder that with such a pedigree, Michael Ignatieff is the man designated to bring all the Liberal Party in the right way. Three months after his election to the House of Commons, when Stephen Harper presented in the spring of 2006, a motion for extension of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, he supported.
Ignatieff, gathered around him two dozen Liberal MPs to support the motion, the voices that are needed to have the motion carried. Harper was not deceived. He crossed the room to shake hands with Ignatieff.
Two years later, when Stephen Harper presented a new motion to extend the mission in Afghanistan until 2011, once again Michael Ignatieff [maneuvered around] Stéphane Dion, who opposed the war, and drafted an amendment that Stephen Harper is quick to incorporate the motion for adoption.
Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff walk hand in hand to increase military budgets and to involve Canada in imperialist adventures in the United States. Both think they can sell the idea of Canada to English-Canadian electorate, but not to Quebec voters.
Also, unless the Bloc Quebecois has finally decided to make the issue of the war in Afghanistan - a war that costs us $200 million per month - an election issue, the Liberals and Conservatives will not talk about it in Quebec. They will campaign only on "domestic" issues.
This did not prevent, however, to send Quebec soldiers be maimed and die in the Kandahar region for the greater glory of Canada.
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