Tuesday, August 09, 2011

On distinguishing factors

Lest there be any doubt, it's still ridiculous to pretend that any person's past involvement in a Quebec sovereigntist party should be taken to disqualify that person from Canada's public discourse. But for those looking to facilitate the Cons' attacks on the NDP by trying to differentiate between Con MP and cabinet minister Denis Lebel and interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel, let's note that any reasonable distinctions look worse for Lebel than for Turmel.

After all, Lebel's involvement with the Bloc came in the '90s when its primary focus was on separation - while Turmel's came well into the 21st century when the Bloc had settled predominantly into a role as a regional rather than a nationalist party.

And for anybody looking to impose a loyalty test, surely Lebel's lack of ties to any federalist party while he belonged to the Bloc would serve as far more of a red flag than Turmel's simultaneous membership in the sovereigntist Bloc and the federalist NDP.

Again, though, the proper conclusion is that none of Lebel, Turmel or the leaders who appointed them should be forever banished from national participation based merely on past Bloc ties. And to the extent the Cons try to pretend otherwise, the right answer is to suggest that they'll have the right to take an even faintly principled position on giving power to a former Bloc member just as soon as we see Stephen Harper's resignation papers for appointing Lebel to cabinet.

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