Liberal Senator muses about Newfoundland separatist party
In comments made on a St John's radio station, Liberal Senator George Baker has managed to set off what could become a major political controversy.
While speaking about the budget -- and, more specifically, $1.7 billion that some Newfoundlanders believe they're been bilked out of -- Baker mused that federal neglect of Newfoundland could lead to the formation of a separatist party in Newfoundland.
"When you talk about young people, you may see in the future a new political party on the horizon that represents Newfoundlanders just like the Bloc Quebecois represents the people of Quebec better than any other political party," Baker said.
The $1.7 billion represents 20% of Newfoundland's budget, and is only the most recent in a litany of fiscal grievances the province holds not only with the Stephen Harper Conservatives, but with the federal government in general.
"If this continues for [Harper's] term ...then what you are going to see is a completely different party," Baker later told CTV. "There's going to be a political party that says, 'We are going to stand up for Newfoundland and Labrador.'"
"It's gotta be stopped, if its not stopped in the House of Commons, they are going to be facing ...a new party in Newfoundland that would be comparable to the Bloc [Quebecois]."
"This should be reason enough to have a Bloc Newfoundland and Labrador running in the next federal election if this keeps up, and a real campaign to get them all elected," Baker added.
Naturally, the Conservative party from trying to take advantage of his comments, somewhat disingenuously.
"I think [the comments] are very concerning. [You've] got a member of the Liberal caucus calling on the creation of a 'Bloc Newfoundland'," said Stephen Harper spokesperson Kory Teneycke. "He's talking on the most glowing terms imaginable about the Bloc Quebecois and what they've been able to achieve. Clearly, this is beyond the pale and Sen. Baker should be removed from the Liberal caucus."
Conservative Senator Mike Duffy expressed deep concerns about the sentiment. "George Baker's a great Canadian, or he used to be," Duffy mused. "I can't wait to hear what he has to say about it, because it's certainly not the old George that I know and love."
"I'd probably consider it," Baker mused when asked if he would lead such a party. "But I'm a bit too old."
Interestingly, separatism has a long but quiet history in Newfoundland -- a province which had to vote in a referendum twice before joining Canada.
Michael Ignatieff should remove George Baker from his caucus. To disagree with the government's fiscal treatment of Newfoundland is one thing -- Newfoundlanders do, indeed, have a strong case to argue.
But to pretend that disagreements over money is reason enough to seccede from Canada is, indeed, beyond the pale.
The last thing Canada needs is more separatists.
Other bloggers writing about this topic:
Peter L Whittle - "Baker Tells It Like It Is"
Townie Bastard - "Baker Off the Deep End Again