Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Liberal Leadership Debate in Quebec City

All in all, not a bad debate. They've certainly gotten a hang of a format that doesn't make it completely painful to watch.

I have a variety of thoughts from this debate, and I'll sprinkle a few here.

On the Constitution:

First, I wasn't a fan of either Dion or Rae's comments on the Constitution. Dion noted that Germany and Switzerland are fine with their constitutional troubles. Rae indicated that "we musn't overestimate the importance of the Constitution."

Maybe I'm a silly Ontarian who cares about the overwhelming importance of the rule of law. Maybe I'm a silly Ontarian who thinks that a proper democratic society necessitates formal and substantive consent to the governance regime of the governed. Maybe I'm a silly Ontarian who thinks that there's still a little injustice and a lot of imperfections in the Constitution as it stands now. I might be silly, but I'm still disappointed with their responses.

I'm especially disappointed in Rae, who I've watched say, when directly questioned on it, that he would certainly consider further constitutional changes. His performance today seems to indicate that he doesn't.

And I certainly agree with the idea that other things are important. Practical, day to day concerns are something we should be dealing with. And constitutional discussions would be very hard.

But I don't think that we can't address both, and I don't think we should shy away from something because it's difficult.

On Michael Ignatieff and International Trade:

"Il y a une question éthique ici. Il faut créer un monde où les petits agriculteurs africains ont le même accès au marché que nos agriculteurs."

In contrast to some of the more protectionist rhetoric from some of the other candidate, I very much appreciated this. Ignatieff's principled stand on this is something long overdue from anyone claiming to be a Liberal internationalist.

Many Liberals may deplore the war in Afghanistan for the deaths it has caused, but the number of people killed indirectly and the economic damage done as a result of farming subsidies is many orders of magnitude greater.

More later.


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