Some things are best left to the professionals. Space travel is one; politics is another.
Marc Garneau, the Liberal candidate for the Quebec riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, has been talking about Quebec separation:
I think that when you say you're a sovereigntist you have to think it through.
Maybe so but when you're a candidate for federal office, you also have to think through every word that comes out of your mouth.
Of course I agree with the basic message, as I'm a federalist. But the manner in which it was expressed, and even more so, the timing, were, to say the least, unfortunate.
The only reason for bringing up the relative merits of Quebec separation in the context of this election is to try to win votes away from the Bloc Quebecois. To this end, comparing a cause so dear to the hearts of so many Quebeckers to the US invasion of Iraq, is unlikely to sway anyone. I understand the point of the comparison was that both are, in Mr. Garneau's opinion, poorly thought out ideas. The events however are too different to make the comparison workable, and the sensibilities involved are more likely to insult and alienate Quebeckers who largely support one and not the other.
If we must go down that road, there are many more appropriate comparisons. Off the top of my head, the US Civil War would be one; the partitioning of some European countries such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia would be others.
Whether these examples fulfill the message that Mr. Garneau wants to convey, I don't know.
What really needs to be "thought out" is, what IS the message that Mr. Garneau wants (or ought to want) to convey?
When one is campaigning for a seat in Canada's Parliament, shouldn't the campaign message address what the candidate, and his/her party, will do for the constituents?
It goes without saying that a member of the Liberal Party does not support Quebec separation, so what was the purpose of the anti-separatist message? It won't draw votes from Bloc supporters who either have separatist sympathies or are planning anti-Liberal protest votes. If I am going to vote for the Bloc then nothing Garneau says along these lines will dissuade me.
Neither would it draw votes from the other Federalist parties. We already know who is on which team.
Perhaps more to the point is the revelation of what Marc Garneau's response would be, should Quebec begin the separation process:
He would leave Quebec.
If I were a voter in the riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, I would have to ask, does it mean he would no longer be my MP in that event? This would affect my voting decision as I'd prefer to have an MP that would stay and fight for my rights as a Canadian.
I have no doubt that Marc Garneau spoke from the heart; I also have no doubt that Marc Garneau would do his best if elected, and I would rather see a Liberal in that seat than a member of the Bloc Quebecois. I just wonder how wise it was for the Liberals to trust the fate of this tightly contested seat to a newcomer to the political world. I have all due respect for Mr. Garneau as a scientist and modern-day adventurer but in this arena I'd feel more comfortable voting for a professional.
Cross posted to the CTV Election Weblog