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If Quebec is a nation, so am I

While I don't begrudge Harper his motion from a practical political point of view, the notion that the province of Quebec is a nation is rather offensive to me, as a (departed) Quebecker.

Harper's motion is wonderfully fun because it forces everyone in the Commons to vote against a resolution calling Quebec a nation at least once -- including the Bloc. It also serves to head off a Bloc motion calling Quebec a nation without any qualifiers, the purpose of which is immediately clear and emphasised by Andr Boisclair yesterday holding a press conference to say that you can't have a nation inside another nation. I assume this to mean that a separate Quebec's government has no intention of recognising the First Nations. Duly noted.

There are francophones outside of Quebec in this great country of ours. There are anglophones in Quebec, and not just in Westmount or on the West Island. I grew up in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts as an English Jewish kid with a Scottish family name in a French Catholic area. So to me, drawing Quebec's 'nationhood' on provincial boundaries is, well, a little provincial.

I would have no trouble recognising French Canadians at large as a 'nation'. As people seem to like to get caught up in historical rather than practical matters, it can easily be argued that the three founding groups of Canada - the First Nations, the English, and the French, are each distinct nations, or tribes, within Canada, without requiring us to name every ethnic group in the country a Nation. This would also mean we would have an English Canadian Nation to go with our French Canadian Nation, though with Chinese being the third most spoken language in Canada and the Chinese having been responsible for building the bulk of the first trans-Canadian railway and thus our country, perhaps they, too, should receive this title.

It is all a bit rich, really. This whole word game with nation is intended merely by the separatists in Quebec to trip people up into saying they support Quebec's minority aspiration to separate, and when people don't go along, say 'see? we should separate because they don't agree that we should separate!'

If we want to recognise nations in this country without limiting ourselves to French Canadians, we could always define the word as a "tribe", as it is in the dictionary, and say anyone is free to identify themselves as being a part of any nation they wish, as long as such definition has no legal meaning.

I am tired of the whole "nation" debate, and I place the blame for its resurgence squarely on the shoulders of Michael Ignatieff and his big mouth. It is a huge waste of national time when there are far more serious and relevant issues to discuss. I, for one, don't wish to be inundated by American migrants when the global temperature of the planet submerges much of the eastern seaboard with polar meltwater and renders the South unarable. That would just provide us with one more nation to recognise.

Posted at 05:38 on November 24, 2006

This entry has been archived. Comments can no longer be posted.

New liblogs code update | politics unity | Nation vote makes international news -- that is, outside of both Quebec and Canada


Sheila writes at Fri Nov 24 09:06:39 2006...

Thank you, David, for putting this all into perspective with insight and wit. It is really unfortunate that this whole issue was brought up in the first place by Michael Ignatieff, with Mr. Hogg and his unfortunate resolution fanning the flames. It serves no one but the separatists to discuss this, and, since we havent had a good constitutional crisis in the last decade, they were getting restive and greeted this imbroglio with glee. Michael Ignatieff should reserve his musings for the classroom and the Op-Ed pages, not bring them into the political forum where words have different meanings for different interest groups.


Devin writes at Fri Nov 24 09:25:18 2006...

You're not a nation...you're an idiot.


Sheila writes at Fri Nov 24 11:09:35 2006...

Thank you, too, Devon for your insightful and witty perspective.


cdlu writes at Fri Nov 24 19:11:11 2006...

Ah, Devin, nice to see Ignatieff supporters read my blog.

The only idiocy here is this debate.

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