The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Cauchon says Trudeau outdated on approach to Quebec, national unity

  • Print

OTTAWA - Justin Trudeau may be the youngest, hippest Liberal leadership contender but when it comes to Quebec, rival Martin Cauchon says the front runner is a relic of the past.

Trudeau has scoffed at suggestions that attempts must be made to finally secure Quebec's signature on the Constitution — patriated by his father Pierre Trudeau in 1982 over the objections of the province's separatist government.

But while that was the right answer in the 1980s and 1990s, when Canadians were fed up with interminable constitutional wrangling, Cauchon says it's no longer good enough.

Trudeau's response to the national unity question amounts to "the good old answers that people used to give" in the wake of failed constitutional negotiations, Cauchon told The Canadian Press during a wide-ranging interview.

"Now it's not the time to go back with those, I would say, empty answers that a lot of people have been using in the past," he said.

"I say it's time, actually, to have a closer look at the situation."

Cauchon is not suggesting the constitutional can of worms be reopened any time soon, perhaps in 10 or 15 years.

But in the meantime, the federal government must adopt a more open, flexible, co-operative approach to federalism, he said, allowing provinces to assert more control over various areas of jurisdiction, as suits their needs.

Such an approach would be good for both the country and the Liberal party, he maintained.

"When (Quebecers) look at us, the Liberal Party of Canada, they look at a party that always stands for the Ottawa-knows-best type of approach," he said.

"This is something they don't like in Quebec and, as a matter of fact, they don't like it in most of the provinces."

Cauchon and Trudeau, a Montreal MP, locked horns over the national unity question during the final Liberal leadership debate in Montreal last weekend. Trudeau used his closing statement to reject the notion that special gestures are needed to placate Quebec.

"We've been doing that for 30 years and I think that we have to really now admit it doesn't work," he said.

"For far too long we've tried to buy Quebec, to buy them off rather than to get them involved ... This is our real challenge. How are we going to bring everybody together and set aside old squabbles and quarrels?"

But Cauchon argued in the interview that Canada's national unity will never be secure as long as Quebecers feel their aspirations aren't reflected in the Constitution.

"We may decide as a country just to keep saying, as Justin said over the weekend, it's an old question, something from the past," he said.

"The fact that we don't address it brings, in Quebec, a separatist government every 10 years and we have to deal with that. Canada has to deal with that."

Moreover, the Liberal party's hoped for revival in the province hinges on its willingness to resolve the unity question, Cauchon added.

"It's not in refusing to look into the national unity file that we're going to go back in the province of Quebec. That's what I believe."

Should he win the leadership, Cauchon reiterated that he'd run in the Quebec riding of Charlevoix, where he was born and where he fought his first election — unsuccessfully — against then prime minister Brian Mulroney in 1988.

He refused to say if he'll run for election if he does not win the leadership.

"I'm not there yet," he said, insisting that he still intends to win the party crown, despite indications that Trudeau enjoys a commanding lead.

Cauchon represented the Montreal riding of Outremont for 10 years before retiring in 2004 to practice law. He attempted a comeback in his old riding in the 2011 election but lost to New Democrat Tom Mulcair, now NDP leader.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - Take It Easy

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Goslings with some size head for cover Wednesday afternoon on Commerce Drive in Tuxedo Business Park - See Bryksa 30 Goose Challenge- Day 12- May 16, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker hangs out on a birch tree in St. Vital. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is considered a keystone species. Other species take advantage of the holes that the birds make in trees. A group of sapsuckers are collectively known as a

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the city grant mosquito buffer zones for medical reasons only?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google