Delacourt: Justin Trudeau isn’t fighting his father’s battles in Quebec. But maybe we should

Of note:

Justin Trudeau issued no statements on Thursday to mark the 41st anniversary of Quebec’s first referendum on sovereignty.

So the prime minister’s comments from earlier this week — on Quebec’s bid to unilaterally declare itself a nation in the Constitution — will have to stand as his remarks on how far Canada has travelled from that fateful moment on May 20, 1980.

“Our initial analysis …. (is) that it is perfectly legitimate for a province to modify the section of the Constitution that applies specifically to them and that that is something that they can do,” Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday.

There is no way to view those remarks in isolation from the signature battle of his father’s career, much as the current prime minister tends to resist the historical comparisons.

Forty-one years ago this week, Pierre Trudeau was soberly, cautiously celebrating the victory of federalism against the forces that wanted to make Quebec a separate nation, with words such as these:

“To those who may wish to recreate in this land those old nationalistic barriers between peoples — barriers of which the world has been trying to rid itself — I say, we Canadians do not have to repeat the mistakes of the past,” Pierre Trudeau said in a statement after 59.5 per cent of Quebec voted “no” to a bid to embark on separation from Canada.

“All of us have the opportunity to show the whole world that we are not the last colonials on earth, but rather among the first people to free themselves from the old world of nation-states.”

That old world has re-emerged in 2021 with a twist in the form of Quebec’s new language law, which has been presented — and disturbingly accepted by Trudeau and other political leaders — as a none-of-your-business bit of provincial housekeeping. Just keeping the French language alive, drive on, nothing to see here.

Source: Justin Trudeau isn’t fighting his father’s battles in Quebec. But maybe we should

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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