Friday, October 12, 2007

liberalism - alive and well in Québec

'In defence of liberalism and federalism in Quebec ....

'The current political situation is of grave concern to Quebecers who share liberal and federalist values. The resounding defeat of the federal Liberal Party in the September 17th by-elections, combined with a Quebec Liberal Party that is confined to the bottom of the polls, not only demonstrates that these parties are electorally weak, but also threatens the very existence of both political liberalism and of a resolutely federalist vision in the province.

As federalists and full-fledged Quebecers, we liberals (whether independent or card-carrying) refuse to be defeated by the present state of affairs; we are determined to overcome it. We take this position because of our attachment to liberalism, a political ideal based on the primacy of individual freedom, on peaceful and democratic changes in political, social, and economic institutions to encourage the best and most durable outcomes of human endeavour, and on commitment to a society where personal rights and civil liberties are protected.

A liberal strain certainly runs through Quebec society. Throughout our history, this movement has fought for modern ideas, social progress, and economic development. The same movement has relentlessly upheld the rights and freedoms of every individual. It has courageously promoted a spirit of tolerance, understanding and openness to the entire world, as well as the active participation of Quebecers in the building of Canada. The champions of this liberal cause have always distinguished themselves by their constructive spirit, their creative audacity, their tenacious defence of free thought and speech, and their ceaseless concern for social equity: among the most dearly held liberal beliefs is that each member of society must have access to opportunities essential to his or her fulfilment as an individual.

In contrast to ideologues who were focused on the past and insisted on isolating Quebec from the rest of the world, the liberal movement fashioned Quebec's modern identity. To Lionel Groulx’s doleful cry of «Notre Maître le Passé» (Our Master, the Past), the liberal tendency responded with a resonant «Notre Maître l’avenir» (Our Master, the Future), an ideal proclaimed in 1944 by Liberal premier Adélard Godbout, the man who founded Hydro Quebec, recognized women’s voting rights, and was the architect of free and mandatory education in the province.

Steadfastly devoted to the promotion of the French language and culture, the liberal tendency identifies with (and has always identified with) the words of the great liberal thinker and eminent forerunner of the Quiet Revolution, Jean-Charles Harvey: «French has chances of survival only if it becomes the synonym of audacity, culture, civilization and liberty». We liberals of Quebec cling to this idea more than ever at the turn of a 21st century characterized by globalization. In no way do we fear for the survival of Quebec’s linguistic identity or culture. Unlike those who constantly sound alarms about the so-called Anglophone or immigrant «menace», we fully trust that the people of Quebec have the capacity to take their language and culture into the future.

The issues that now concern the planet concern us too. Liberalism embraces multilateralism. Great Liberal figures such as Lester B. Pearson and Lloyd Axworthy have forged Canada’s formidable reputation in the world, and advanced causes we hold dear: human security being among our values that are now generally accepted. The liberal movement is alive and well today in Quebec. We are proud to be part of it. Many of our fellow citizens share these ideals and values. However, the precarious situation of liberal-minded parties at this time threatens to weaken the voice of political liberalism, a voice that has contributed so much to the creation of modern Quebec, that has proclaimed ideals and values worth defending – now more than ever –with courage and perseverance.

This is why we are asking of all Quebec liberals that they reassert their vision with boldness and self-confidence. Let us remain firmly committed to our convictions and ideas, but in doing so, let us always be open to adapting them to the challenges of today and tomorrow. So, let’s roll up our sleeves! Let all the liberals of Quebec do their share of the work that is necessary. As our predecessors have proven throughout history, abdication in the face of difficulty and adversity is not a liberal trait. We pledge to keep that very same spirit alive, for the liberal movement must strengthen its capacity to build a confident Quebec, one that can take its proper place not only in Canada, but also in the rest of the world. '

Jennifer Crane, public affairs consultant, Pointe-Claire ; Mary Damianakis, professional mediator, Baie d’Urfé ; Stéphane Desjardins, pulp and paper worker, St-Jérôme ; Jean-Pierre Dufault, agricultural worker, Brôme ; Nathalie Goguen, journalist, Waterville ; Catherine Grégoire, student, Quebec City, Daniel Laprès, freelance writer, Montréal ; Philippe Legault, student, Laval ; David Simard, master’s student in political science (UQAM), Montréal ; Francis Tourigny, lawyer, Montréal, and many other signatories :

Support Quebec l(L)iberals -


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