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Ex-Liberal leader and academic Michael Ignatieff is shown addressing supporters Monday, May 2, 2011 in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Ex-Liberal leader and academic Michael Ignatieff is shown addressing supporters Monday, May 2, 2011 in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Quebec separation: Michael Ignatieff responds Add to ...

Re A Year After Running For PM, Ignatieff Warns Of Quebec Separation (online, April 23):

Remarks of mine, taken out of context in an interview with BBC Scotland, have caused distress to federalist friends across the country, both francophone and anglophone. Since I passionately want Quebec to remain part of the Canadian fabric and since these friends have defended this idea with courage and pride, it causes me pain to think that anything I said could be used against a cause – the national unity of my country – that they and I hold dear.

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The interview on the issue of the referendum on Scottish independence made clear that Canada offers an internationally recognized model for the conciliation of political differences. I also shared my concerns about the future of this country: We must not drift apart and we must not allow illusions about each other to divide us. Canada is bigger than our differences. We need to affirm our faith in a country that has always proved strong enough to embrace the national identities, language and culture of us all.

I oppose the separation of Canada and Quebec, as I oppose the separation of Scotland and the United Kingdom. We need to face threats to our unity with determination and resolve. The argument we need to make to our fellow citizens who choose the separatist option ought to appeal to hope rather than fear. We are stronger together than apart, stronger in the embrace of our differences and stronger in the prosperous life we have built together over the centuries.

If any of these themes – which I have believed all my life –failed to make their way into my interview with the Scottish broadcasters, I can only reaffirm them now to my federalist friends across Canada and repeat that I will never betray the cause that we share.

Michael Ignatieff, senior resident, Massey College, University of Toronto

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