Getting beyond the margin

It’s a slow news day so I’ll serve up a comment on Ignatieff’s Blood and Belonging which I started reading a few weeks ago.

In the section on Quebec nationalism, Ignatieff defines what he considers to be the three big drivers of ‘nationalist’ movements in Canada: Quebec, western alienation and the aborignial awakening.

Obviously, I look at things through my own set of biases and experiences but I was struck by this.  The Maritime Rights movement was 50 years before any inkling of western alienation.   Ignatieff talks about ‘economic emancipation’ as a primary force behind Quebec nationalism.  Aren’t economic emanicipation and economic self-sufficiency virtually equivalent?

I am not comparing Quebec in the 1950s to Atlantic Canada today.  Don’t make that leap

I am saying that Ignatieff has made several comments that are curious to me.  For example, when he was down here campaigning for the leadership he made no distinction and in fact said that this region was the same as Northern Ontario, the Gaspe, etc.  Just another poor region of Canada that needed to have the focus of the federal government.

As a student of this stuff, Ignatieff surely knows the difference between a ‘province’ like New Brunswick and a region of a province like the Gaspe or Northern Ontario?  Certainly, he understands that the federal government relationship with a province is different than a sub-region of province?

I am not advocating nationalism for New Brunswick but there is a historical reason why we have provinces in this country and Ignatieff should know this.

I have always felt that the left elites in Canada were as bad as the righties when it comes to Atl. Canada.  In the Toronto Star, there is consternation that we are not grateful for all the largess poured on the region in the form of Equalization, seasonal EI and other transfers.  In the liberal tradition (small l), we (Toronto) are taking care of you so what is your problem? 

The Righties have had enough (Daulton McGuinty is in this group) and they want to crack down on Atl. Canada.  Force out-migration, enforce per capita transfers and shrink Atl. Canada to a population level that makes sense (just enough people to cut down the trees and scoop up the fish).

What’s worse?

It might be nice for both the Upper Canada lefties and the righties to agree that 100 years of economic marginalization (with some ebb and flow) is not a particularly good thing.  It might be nice for both the lefties and the righties Upper Canada to agree that if the largest single source of revenue for the Province of Ontario was Equalization, that would be a problem. 

I find the word emancipation to be a loaded one.  It conjures up images of slavery and womens’ rights so attaching it to the problems in Atl. Canada is not particularly wise but the sentiment is similar.

New Brunswick should want to be a place that is creating good paying jobs and career options for its people.  It should want to be a place that is attracting immigrants.  It should want – for one generation in its entire history – to be a place that is at least on par with the national average when it comes to population growth (that hasn’t happened as far back as records have been kept).

It may not reach Ignatieff’s lofty triumvirate of Quebec, western alienation and aboriginal rights but after 100 years or so, it should at least generate some sympathy among the great minds in Ontario.

1 thought on “Getting beyond the margin

  1. I stopped reading when I saw “left” and “right”, since they are such massive generalizations. However, I just had to respond to a big point. There was really not much of a Maritimes Rights Movement really. There was really no unification of provincial entities or anything like that. Many maritime BUSINESSES got together and talked a lot about it.

    Why thats interesting is because of a point I’ve made before, that unless something is grassroots driven, then its a non starter. Although some here talk about some hero donning a cape and showing up, that seldom happens. Chavez would now be at the bottom of the ocean if it weren’t for grassroots support.

    If you read a lot of commments from out west you see that Harper is essentiallly written off. Defense of him simply means hatred of liberals and NDPers, thats it. Or else there is the conspiracy tone that says he is either secretly remaining hidden til he gets a majority, or else he is being chained by the liberal media, etc.

    The Reform Party, like the parti quebecois, were a grassroots party first and foremost. That’s why voting has plummeted amongst all political affiliations. Its doesnt matter who you vote for, you always end up with a king, as the Irish say.

    My point is that the maritimes have never had that, have never stood unified behind a single party for a specific purpose. IF that happens then a ‘maritime rights’ theme can be discussed. But you might as well say that NOW there is a Maritime Rights Movement all because AIMS keeps talking about ATlantica and even getting policy made federally based on that initiative. However, nobody would think that its a ‘movement’ like western or quebec alienation. Thats similar in the case of natives as well, individual organizations are springing up all over the place. Until the east does that, well, history repeats and repeats.

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