Jean Chrétien has recently weighed in on the NDP's stance on national unity.
Former prime minister Jean Chretien says he's disturbed by the NDP's "ambiguity" on national unity and its willingness to resurrect the debate over the Constitution.When he mentioned 1993, I remembered something from that time.
He was referring to an NDP caucus that suddenly includes sympathizers of Quebec independence and is the first pan-Canadian party to oppose the Clarity Act, Chretien's landmark law which sets rules for a future referendum.
"Obviously, there's some ambiguity and I see they've started to talk about the Constitution again since the election," Chretien said during a visit to Quebec City. "I said in 1993: 'If you want to talk about the Constitution, vote against me because I won't go there. There are other problems than that."'
It was the year that Harper's Reform Party and the Bloc, made election history, with the Reformers winning 52 seats, and the Bloc, 54, to become the official opposition.
Reformers had taken a tough stand with Quebec, and had joined forces with the Alliance for the Preservation of English, to challenge bilingualism.
Things became charged when members of APEC set fired to a Quebec flag in Brockville.
“On a platform behind the train station, a Quebec flag was spread out. About half a dozen demonstrators took turns stomping and spitting on the Fleur-de-lis before it was set ablaze.”(Ottawa Citizen, October 19, 1992)And for a bit of trivia, one of Harper's new senators, Bob Runciman, was a supporter.
“The Brockville chapter of APEC successfully opposed a petition to introduce French immersion classes in the Leeds and Grenville school district; not that the school board really needed prodding from APEC to turn down French immersion. Bob Runciman, the local MPP, supports APEC and has addressed a meeting of its Brockville chapter.” (Kingston Whig-Standard, July 11 1987)
“Runciman has apparently helped whip up the anti-bilingualism sentiment in the area, and [APEC] members claimed 1,400 people have joined the cause in Brockville and 10,000 across the province.” (The Toronto Star, Aug 16 1987)But I digress.
In the piece on Chretien, it states that: 'The NDP stance would seem to be at odds with the Clarity Act, which calls for a clear majority for sovereigntists before Ottawa would entertain negotiations to break up the country.'
However, as I've mentioned several times, Jack Layton actually campaigned in 2004, on a promise to repeal the Clarity Act.
So back to my original question and the 1993 election results.
Several Reform Party MPs suggested that since the Bloc was a separatist party, their MPs should be forced to pledge allegiance to Canada. (video below) They also liberally threw out words like "treason", not unlike the insane rantings during the 2008 coalition crisis.
So given the fact that the NDP now has 59 MPs from Quebec, several of whom are also "separatists", with the leader vowing to scrap the Clarity Act, will the Reformers in the House, of which there are many (including the prime minister), demand that they pledge an Oath of Allegiance?
It would be no crazier today than it was in 1993. (and yes, this is tongue in cheek)