29 April 2007

The other Stephen Harper

Where did this Stephen Harper go?

"The broad lesson of history," he notes, "is that Canada's natural governing coalition always includes the federalist option in Quebec, not the nationalist one" -- as was true of the Liberals for much of the 20th century, and of the Conservatives in the 19th. The Alliance's Quebec strategy, in case anyone missed his point, should be to make itself "acceptable to a significant number of Liberal as well as anti-Liberal voters." Mr. Harper's leadership, then, would herald a historic shift -- not only in conservative politics but in the politics of the country.


And while generally rendering unto the provinces what the Constitution assigns to the provinces, he says he wants to see "a stronger federal government" within its own fields of jurisdiction. Is this just lip service? Mr. Harper drops this tantalizing hint: "Our economic union is too weak because Ottawa has failed to use the powers it has under the Constitution to ensure that goods and services can freely flow across provincial borders." Is Mr. Harper saying he would use those powers? Paris was worth a Mass. An economic union would be well worth a firewall.
(h/t Andrew Coyne)