Saturday, December 17, 2005

More: Mr. Martin Stands for Canada

Prime Minister Paul Martin demonstrated resoundingly that he alone had the qualities of statesmanship by standing up for Canada and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the French Leaders debate on December 15.

“We need Quebec’s energy, its momentum, at the national level. When we work together, nothing can stop us,” the Prime Minister said when asked about national unity.

[Mr. Martin highlighted the facts that Canada has] one of the strongest economies in the world, record job growth, lower public debt and strategic investments in health care, the environment, cities and innovation.

He reminded voters that it was he – and he alone – who had the courage to get to the bottom of the sponsorship mess by appointing the Gomery Inquiry.

Above all the Prime Minister hammered home the stark differences in vision and values that distinguishes the Liberal plan from that of Gilles Duceppe and Stephen Harper.

He was especially strong in his exchanges with Gilles Duceppe on national unity, showing clearly that Duceppe and the separatists’ obsession on working with Andre Boisclair is to divide Quebecers one from another with a referendum.

“When the majority of MPs from Quebec are there just to put up obstacles rather than working with the rest of the country, it hinders the ability of Quebec –and Canada – to succeed. This is not the time for division. It is time to work together,” the Prime Minister said.

And Stephen Harper showed once again that he is unwilling to show the candor that Canadians expect of their leaders on questions of fundamental values.

[Harper] said tonight the he would not invoke the notwithstanding clause to revoke the Charter Rights conferred on same-sex couples by the courts. But he also said he would enforce a vote to defy courts and restore the traditional definition of marriage.

He knows he cannot do both, yet he won’t admit it. He is either not telling his social conservative base the truth or he is not telling the rest of us the truth. He has to come clean.

The Prime Minister immediately confronted Mr. Harper about this duplicity, saying, “Either Mr. Harper is going to try to change the law of the country that protects the rights and freedoms of gays and lesbians or he's not going to. If he's going to use the notwithstanding clause, he should say so, and the people will at least know what his position is.”

NDP leader Jack Layton’s inability to explain his recent reversal on private health care left Canadians wondering why he chose to join Mr. Harper and Mr. Duceppe to force this election.

Canadians expect a Prime Minister to be a statesman – to focus not on the next election but the next generation. In the first of four debated in this campaign, Prime Minister Paul Martin lived up to that expectation.

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