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WTF?

This past week I sort of faded from the blogosphere and kind of fell out of touch with news in general. No single excuse – just busy. In any case, I come back to the real world to find that Stephen Harper has proposed a motion to “recognize the Quebecois as a nation”, which then sailed through Parliament without anyone actually defining either of the words “Quebecois” or “nation”.

To rephrase last night’s motion:

We recognize people we can’t identify as something we can’t define.

Is anyone else as worried as I am about what this could lead to when lawyers get hold of it?

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10 thoughts on “WTF?

  1. Kevvy:

    No. The resolution means nothing. You hit the nail on the head when you say that “nation” is not defined. This resolution provides no special powers or recognition to Quebec. All it does is recognize that Quebec has a separate history, language, culture, etc. from the rest of Canada — which is nothing new.

    In my view, this resolution will assist in putting down the separatist movement. It will appease many of those Quebecers who don’t really want to leave Canada but feel ignored by the Federal government — many of whom voted “oui” in the last referendum.

    It also opens the door for renewed discussion on Quebec’s place in Canada, which is where all the people who are overreacting to this resolution will have a chance to have their voices heard. Nobody denies that something needs to be done about Quebec. People like Kinsella, Wells, Turner, Chong and others would rather let it fester until we are faced with another crisis as in 1995.

    Those people complain that we are opening a can of worms. Well, worms don’t come in cans, and if you go long enough without opening them they will become pretty gross and nasty.

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  2. “Nation” might or might not be defined now, but what happens when someone decides to make it mean something? If separatists can be mollified by nothing, then they either are idiots or not separatists. I believe neither of those conclusions. Certainly there is a portion of the “mouvement” that is soft and not really serious, but the other, likely larger group is not soft and not going to be so easily bought.

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  3. Why does Harper even have a Cabinet?

    Intergovernmental Affairs Minister resigns over Quebecois motion.

    Chong’s stated reason for resigning is that he refuses to accept an ethnic nation over a civic nation. I don’t think this bill necessarily leads to an ethnic nation, especially considering that Harper had no idea what the word “Quebecois” meant while drafting this motion, but that’s beside the point. I wonder how much Chong’s resignation brewed from the fact that he was not consulted on this motion at all? As the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, no less.

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  4. Well, I’m not going to speak on the definition of ‘nation’ – although the fact that the BQ and the PQ both heartedly endorse this would seem to put Devin’s happy little ‘this will put down those separatists’ fantasy into the crapper. But the definition of ‘Quebecois’ has always been held to be not inhabitants of Quebec, but Francophones only – which means Harper’s managed to give a hearty ‘fuck you’ to both Non-Francophone members of Quebec and those Francophones living outside the province, such as the Acadians for example.

    Actually, Kev – the lawyering’s already started. Gordon Campbell’s calling for the same ‘nation’ status for Aboriginals, and letters to the Globe and Mail are making the case for Scottish-Canadians. I’m sure the Newfoundlanders are organizing their lobby even as they speak. If this keeps up, the new Canadian Tourism motto’ll soon be ‘Canada: One Country, 30 Million Solitudes’.

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  5. “Nobody denies that something needs to be done about Quebec.”

    Ummmm, I deny that something “needs to be done about Quebec”.

    Canada is a great country. Quebec is strong and prosperous within Canada. Where’s the problem?

    The problem, as I see it, is this (and it’s the story of modern Canada).

    1) A group of people in Quebec who are committed to separation constantly ask the rest of Canada to make concessions and special deals to acknowledge just how much more “special” and “distinct” they are from other, “ordinary” Canadians based on the notion that they form a distinct nation (which neither the French, nor the British recognized before, or after the province was created by the British in 1763, but whatever…) and should be dealt with as co-equals (and/or that some historic wrong was done to this great nation that was never a nation that needs to be redressed).

    2)The rest of Canada bends over backwards to accomodate the demands of this group of separatists who are dedicated to taking Quebec out of Canada, in the misguided belief that maybe, this time, the separatists will be so wowed by how nice the rest of us are, they’ll stop being separatists.

    3)The separatists politely accept whatever latest concession the rest of Canada has been blackmailed into, and then (shocker!) go right on being separatists and advocating for the separation of Quebec.

    4)The rest of Canada is shocked that the people who wanted a separate country still want a separate country, even after we gave them X & Y, and so our reaction is to immediately begin negotiations to turn over Z.

    Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

    NOTHING “needs to be done about Quebec”.

    Quebec is a prosperous, diverse, successful society. It has been ever since it was created in 1763 by Royal proclamation of the British Crown (before then, it was a colony France (New France), who never considered it a “nation”). If the people of Quebec are unhappy about how they are doing under the current form of our confederation, we should all talk about that. If they’re unhappy that they’re not treated as a “nation”, tough.

    I for one am sick of the constant “do what we want or the country gets it” mentality. The separatists are holding a gun to our heads and asking for more and more concessions to keep them from pulling the trigger, and we keep giving in, in the naive belief that our concessions are what’s keeping the trigger from being pulled. Wake up people. The separatists WANT to pull the trigger. It’s why they’re called “separatists”. The rest of Canada isn’t keeping Quebec in Confederation by making concessions, Quebec is staying within confederation because the people of Quebec WANT to stay in Confederation. If we keep giving in to demands of separatist politicians to fix something that isn’t broken, Quebeckers are going to start thinking it WAS broken, and DID need fixing. Just because Gilles Ducceppe or Andre Bosclair say Confderation doesn’t work for Quebeckers doesn’t mean Confederation doesn’t work for Quebeckers. The separatists say the country is broken, and Quebec needs to go it’s own way. Stop taking their word for it.

    I take it back. I think there IS something that needs to be done about Quebec separatism.

    We need to start ignoring it.

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  6. Dan and Kevvy:

    You make my point for me. The people who will be appeased by this resolution are not separatists. They are people who voted “oui” in the referendum, not because they wanted to separate, but because they felt abandoned by the Federal government. As Canadians are want to do, their vote was designed to send a message — a message that has apparently been ignored.

    The fact that the BQ and PQ have accepted the resolution is an indication that they had no choice. They are also trying to “spin” the resolution to their favour. In reality, the BQ resolution had no chance of passing and they are trying to diminish the impact of Canada’s acknowledgement of Quebec’s language, culture and history by making it appear to be their idea. The BQ and PQ know that a successful referendum depends on the support of “soft” nationalists and they are fully aware that this resolution hurts them with that constituency.

    The time for debate is when word “nation” is defined. Make no mistake, that debate will take place whether you or I want it to or not. That is where we stand firm with the separatists and let them know that Canada is a unified country. It is also when we define the terms and consequences of another referendum — unlike was done in 1995.

    The resolution means absolutely nothing at all. There is no reason to get all in a twist.

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  7. LKO:

    The problem is that you have a very large number of people in Quebec that want to leave Canada. You have a federal party whose sole “raison d’etre” is to promote separation and a very strong provincial party with the same intentions. You also have a province that did not sign on to the Constitution.

    You may prefer to sweep the situation under the carpet, but I don’t.

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  8. Devin,
    I’m open for you to be right, but my feeling is that this just opens another front unnecessarily. I want to be wront. That “nation” is a vacuous non-term now doesn’t mean that it is going to remain one for long. It opens up another avenue for separatists to argue a legal framework for separation -> they are a “nation” after all, why not have their own nation state?

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