Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is former sovereignist Denis Lebel fit to serve in cabinet?

Denis Lebel,
Minister of Transport
(© House of Commons)

Transport Minister Denis Lebel, MP for Roberval-Lac-Saint-Jean confirmed he was a member of the Bloc Québécois for eight years, leaving that party on April 28, 2001. This begs the question as to whether Mr. Lebel should remain in the Conservative Cabinet.

I voted Liberal in federal elections in the 1960s, and I do not believe that disqualified me, morally, from joining the Conservative party and running for office, had I chose to do so. Both the Liberal and the Conservative parties are committed federalists and believe in a strong, united Canada.

I do, however, believe that any act of treason or similar act should bar me from holding high office. Such acts include taking up arms against Canada or joining a political party that has as it’s raison d'être the break up of our country.

To me, this is not a matter of what’s legal, but what’s right—what’s morally acceptable.

Acknowledging his membership, Mr. Lebel denies being “active” in the Bloc Québécois, although, according to mainstream media reports, he admits he participated in partisan activities and donated a few hundred dollars to the party.

One’s actions have consequences, and some actions are so egregious their consequences need be severe and sometimes will include sanctions, legal or otherwise, regardless of how much one may regret those actions later.

Mr. Lebel’s protestations, in a statement to Radio-Canada, regarding his involvement with the BQ, “I’ve never done activism. Never, never, never,” is a bit like a woman claiming she is half-pregnant.

Since the Conservatives have so few MPs from Quebec, the firing of Mr. Lebel will cause Prime Minister Stephen Harper some problems with Quebec representation in his Cabinet. And I can sympathize with that. But Quebec voters made a conscious choice by continuing to send so many sovereignists to represent them in Ottawa—and that also has consequences. So let them be under-represented.

Maintaining an eight-year membership in a separatist party and donating hundreds of dollars to a separatist cause is tantamount to treason. And I for one believe it is unacceptable for Mr. Lebel to remain a minister of the Crown.



Except photograph, contents
© Russell G. Campbell, 2011. All rights reserved.
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.


  1. Agreed. Harper should boot him from Cabinet

  2. Treason? The hyperbole is reaching dipper levels.

  3. the french reporter on Sun News said that he would not be surprised if any quebec conservative at one time supported or held a membership of the bloc. have to believe him. now that we have proven that we dont need quebec to win a majority, perhaps we should drop the whole lot that did take out memberships and make that a practice from now on for up and coming candidates.

    brad maynard

  4. People dance with the devil and then repent . . . we're not in the McCarthy era. A ten year lapsed association, given up long before there was the potential for a role in a Conservative government, shouldn't be an issue today.
    There is a vast difference between the current leader of *loyal* Opposition who held/and still holds memberships in separatist parties and someone who gave up on the cause a decade ago.
    A person can be judged by his history, but in politics, this is ancient history. Is a former political association, even a *treasonous* one, so damning that it should haunt a person until they die?

  5. canadianna,

    You asked, "Is a former political association, even a *treasonous* one, so damning that it should haunt a person until they die?"

    In a word, yes. Treason (even if not in the legal sense) is like murder--its purpose is to slay the state--and is unforgivable.

  6. Come on, Russ -- have you never been passionate about something and wrong at the same time -- have you never matured past a belief system you realized was either unfeasible, unproductive or even destructive? If not, well good for you, but most of us are just learning along the way. Mistakes will be made. Correcting them, and not just when it's expedient, that's the true telling of character. There are many non-treasonous people who've done may more to destroy or undermine this country than most of the bloc members ever did.
    And if everyone thought the way you did, we'd be prosecuting anyone who ever held membership, regardless of any change of heart.

    Most Bloc members, even those who served in government, were part of a protest movement. Back in the '90s, a lot of Ontarians voted for Bob Rae's NDP as a protest against the incumbent Liberals because they knew the PCs would never form government. You might say it's different because the NDP philosophy was never *treasonous*, but I'm suggesting that a lot of people who voted bloc and who ran and were elected bloc were less *for* separtism, than against the old Progressive Conservative Party and Liberal Parties. They felt their interests weren't being served. And, among other things, there was a lot of residual anger from the rest of Canada adopting Constitution that was not ratified by Quebec.

    I've taken a lot of space as it is, and your belief that treason is *unforgiveable* would require too much space for me to argue here, but I respectfully disagree.

  7. Make all the rationalizations and excuses you want, canadianna, but the fact remains, any Canadian who joins a separatist party, the raison d'être of which is the break up of our country, commits the moral equivalent of treason, and treason is the moral equivalent of murder, period. No ifs, ands or buts. And, thereby, is disqualified from ever holding high office.

    Please, look no more for moral equivalency that will excuse or rationalize such behaviour--none exists.

    To excuse/rationalize their behaviour is to legitimize it and embolden the traitors.

  8. Unlike the interim NDP leader, this gentleman abandoned his affiliation with that party a long time ago. Enough time has passed to say that he's seen the error of his ways ... something that can't be said - yet - of the interim NDP leader.

  9. Besides, what about Western separatists or "firewallers"? Are they guilty of treason too? Including Harper, who signed the infamous "firewall letter"? Clearly, he doesn't believe in the idea anymore, but by your definition, he too is now guilty of treason and can never hold federal office ever again.

  10. The following comment was deleted in error.

    From canadianna:

    "Sorry, I don't see any equivalence between murder and treason. In my opinion, turning against your own country and taking a life are morally different and not comparable.

    "Freedom allows for people to choose something different for themselves, even if it means *breaking up the country*. So long as there is no criminal activity involved (and please, don't use the *treason itself is criminal activity* argument -- I don't mean thought crimes).
    In the case of bloc members, I would prefer not to pay their salaries or pensions, but I believe they have a right to peacefully work to remove themselves from Canada. That's part of the freedom we enjoy --- pursuing our aspirations whatever they might be, so long as we use democratic means.

    "I'm guessing you disagree, and while I understand where you're coming from, I know that my world view has evolved over the years and I can't see the permanent exclusion of those who have believed in *wrong* things or worked for *wrong* causes."

  11. Canadianna:

    I fear that attitudes like yours enable bad behaviour. As I said before, Treason (even if not in the legal sense) is like murder--its purpose is to slay the state--and is unforgivable.

    So, lets agree to disagree on this one. Thanks for your comments.

  12. Werner,

    Your point regarding the interim NDP leader and Lebel is a good one with a nice distinction, but IMHO the moral equivalent of treason carries a life-ban on holding high office like a cabinet post.

  13. Werner,

    I feel the same way about Western separatists, if they do more than talk. For example, if they, like the Bloc, form a political party and actively campaign to break up the country.

    As to the "firewallers" and PM Harper's "firewall letter," I fail to see a call for separatism there. Perhaps you know something I don't. PM Harper called for Alberta to take actions which were, in the words of his letter, "…steps [that] can be taken using the constitutional powers that Alberta now possesses." Here is a summary, as I understand the letter.

    PM Harper's "Alberta Agenda":

    • Withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan to create an Alberta Pension Plan.

    • Collect our own revenue from personal income tax, as we already do for corporate income tax.

    • Let the contract with the RCMP run out in 2012 and create an Alberta Provincial Police Force.

    • Resume provincial responsibility for health-care policy.

    • Use section 88 of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Quebec Secession Reference to force Senate reform back onto the national agenda.

    … we believe it is imperative for you to take all possible political and legal measures to reduce the financial drain on Alberta caused by Canada’s tax-and-transfer system.

    Hardly a call for separation, the "Alberta Agenda" was a call for enforcing provincial rights under the Charter. Not even a call for more rights. We are, after all, a federation with a constitutional distinction between federal and provincial rights.

    I can't say I disagree with any of the steps PMSH suggested. What am I missing?