I’ve been meaning for ages to comment on all this post-health care accord asymmetrical-federalism stuff, but every time I sit down to do it, I get a stomach ache.
The punditocracy is divided into two main camps. On the one side, there is Andrew Coyne, Norman Spector, and a small group of other federalists who see this as stealth Meech Lake, and a terrible precedent. On the other side, we get the pro-Meech crowd who keep telling the federalists to CALM DOWN, IT’S NO BIG DEAL. Examples are Paul Wells of Inkless Wells, and Andre Pratte at La Presse.
In the middle are those who agree with the Coyne-types that this is a step to the dissolution of the federal government, but think it is a good thing. Examples are John Ibbitson of the Globe, and the entire PQ brainstrust.
I’ll just add my $0.02 by saying that I’m with Coyne. As he put it in a recent column: We’re already on the brink of national dissolution. Now, a Liberal prime minister is trying to finish the job.
I am reminded, as always, of my favourite passage from George Grant’s Lament for a Nation. (I’m quoting from memory, but it’s close):
It may be that it is Canada’s fate to be absorbed by the United States. Fate leads the willing, and drives the unwilling; the chief debt we owe the Liberal Party of Canada is that it is so willing to be led. The only condition the Liberals put on that willingness is that they should have personal charge of the country while our sovereignty disappears.
We can question the assumption that it is our fate to fall into the US. I think not. But the fundamental truth in Grant’s words is unimpeachable: No matter which way the winds of fate are blowing, with a lee shore looming, a Liberal will always insist on holding the tiller as the good ship Canada cracks up on the shoals.