The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Tuesday, February 03, 2004



Former Indian Affairs minister Bob Nault (dumped from Cabinet in December) calls up Maclean's typist Paul Wells. The men chat about Paul Martin's cabinet shuffle the new PM's treatment of Liberal stalwarts; Wells blogs it.

Ugly. Martinites will probably say that Nault's words are those of a man who's been spurned, but hey: shouldn't Martin try to keep guys like Nault and former justice minister Martin Cauchon on side rather than off? Cauchon has said he's leaving politics; instead, he'll practice law. What are the odds that he'll be organizing to take over from Martin while he racks up billings in Montreal?

Meanwhile, Cauchon's temporary retirement frees up the Outremont riding for one Jean Lapierre to jump back into the political game. Who? Once a junior minister in the Pierre Trudeau, Lapierre then became a Quebec separatist MP, then a radio talker. Now, he's decided to go back to the Liberals. Between firing Intergovernmental Affairs hardliner Stephane Dion, Jean Lapierre's return to the fold and the defection of Bloc Quebecois MP Robert Lanctot to the Grits, Paul Martin looks to be playing footsy with the separatists. You can bet that that the Conservative party can't wait to paint Martin as soft on the seppies. They might just bring up Martin's late 1980's support for the failed Meech Lake constitutional accord -- and that could kill his prospects in the western provinces.

For those unfamiliar with Western ennui, "Meech" has come to symbolize what's seen out in these parts as Central Canadian pandering to the desires of Quebec nationalists. Meech would have declared Quebec a "distinct society" within Canada and guaranteed the province a swath of powers not guaranteed to the other nine Canadian provinces. The idea was less than popular out this way. Okay, more like hated. You could sum up the feeling as: Great. Ottawa shafts us for how long; and now, they want to give all this power to Quebec while we're still serfs? Screw that!

Unlike other "western" complaints, which more often read as well as "rural" or "Albertan", Meech was disliked evenly across western Canada: Manitoba, B.C. , Saskatchewan, Alberta -- didn't matter. Urban, rural, churchy conservative of passionate social democrat, it rankled them all. Meech was one of the Mulroney government's moves that helped spawn and fuel the old Reform Party. Whenever the Reformers were in danger of losing voters to the Liberals or what-have-you, Reform could remind Westerners of Meech, and back they'd come. A subsequent constitutional package in 1992 (the Charlottetown Accord) was also rejected, although for different reasons -- as in: everyone who opposed Charlottetown had some reason to oppose it...

Now, Jean Chretien (like his mentor Trudeau) opposed Meech from the start, although that did him little good out west. Then again, Chretien was able to form government without much support this side of the Lakehead. While it never brought him down, it was no good for the country. Paul Martin says he wants to bring disaffected Westerners [okay, maybe not rural Albertans --ed.] back into the Canadian fold. Fine and well, and he'd doubtless like a few more seats out this way to hedge against eventual losses in Ontario. But he'd better watch out for that crowd he's been running with.

Forget what you heard from the Canada West Foundation about western wants for Senate reform, looser bilingualism laws and all that jazz. Most will let it slide, if they see that Ottawa treats [fill-in-the province] as equal to [take yer pick: Ontario or Quebec] -- and shoots us a fair share of the public loot. If Ottawa starts playing favourites, well, then, Martin can expect more of the same Western bluster his predecessor faced.
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