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Volume 91, Issue 12

Wednesday, September 17, 1997



Bob Rae's history lesson

By Sabrina Carinci
Gazette Staff

Western had it's own Rae day yesterday afternoon, as politician Bob Rae enlightened those who came to hear him speak in Western's Josephine Spencer Niblett Law building. Fashionably late, having made a pit stop to the little politician's room, Rae arrived to a variety of Western students, faculty and media.

The former premier and present professor of law at the University of Toronto spoke for approximately 30 minutes about his views of the history and future of the Canadian constitution.

©Geoff Robins

Rae's opening remark was a comment on Jaques Parizeau's metaphor that the constitution is like an endless trip to the dentist. "Visiting the dentist isn't a bad idea and if you don't go to the dentist, your teeth would probably fall out," Rae said.

The politician explained the debate in Canada over the constitution is not a recent issue, but rather a dated one which has always dealt with problems of partnership and diversity. He referred to Lord Duram's report written in 1840, which stated the French were a minority and there was only one Canada and one government.

"Those who think there is only one type of Canadian are making the same mistake the British made in history," he said. "[Canadians] have to be able to have a dual or even triple loyalty – that is what makes us different from the United States."

With respect to the present situation in Quebec and the growing number of separatists, Rae said it would be impossible for the French to vote themselves out just because they're French.

He added boundaries and borders are a political compromise made by being a part of confederation, implying the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada, therefore, would be unfair to the anglophones who vote "no" as well as the aboriginal people who make up the majority of Northern Quebec.

"When you open the constitutional box lots of other things fly out," he said, referring to the present problems with the constitution. Rae said there are various other problems that would have to be addressed and taken care of as a result of any separation movements, adding the constitution will never really be finished.

"The country would be in better shape if the Meech Lake Accord had passed," Rae said during a question-and-answer period, stating his opinion that the Senate is a useless assembly and many people would agree with him.

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Copyright © The Gazette 1997