Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday that the federal Conservative government will introduce a motion recognizing that Quebecers constitute a nation within a united Canada.
"Do Quebecers form a nation within a united Canada? The answer is yes. Do the Quebecois for an independent nation? The answer is no, and will always be no," Harper said.
"The Bloc Quebecois has asked us to define that, and perhaps that's a good thing, because it reminds us all Canadians have a stake in the future of this country."
All the rancor about the resolution at the leadership convention and Harper effectively bails out the Liberals by wading into the controversy and supporting the resolution. Ignatieff looks less the reckless rookie, and now seems entirely mainstream. Interesting development to say the least.
The Ignatieff angle:
Supporters of leadership front-runner Michael Ignatieff, the only contender to wholeheartedly endorse the Liberal resolution on Quebec nationhood, were jubilant, privately claiming Harper's move vindicates Ignatieff and guarantees he'll win the party crown.
Ignatieff has been hammered by his rivals, who've accused him of playing into separatist hands and leading the country down the path to another round of divisive constitutional wrangling.
Ignatieff himself took credit for getting the ball rolling on recognition of Quebec as a nation.
"I think it's a good day for Canada. That is to say, I'm proud of the way in which the Liberal party and my candidacy listened to Quebec," he said.
Harper's proposal also won the approval of Stephane Dion, the lone Quebec contender who has fiercely criticized the Liberal approach on the issue. He said Harper's motion is "very close" to a compromise he's been floating among Liberal leadership candidates.
Observers say that Harper's motion could actually help Ignatieff out, but the leadership contender said he doubted the prime minister had him in mind when the proposal was changed.
He said he saluted what the prime minister did but added that he's "sure Mr. Harper is not in the business of throwing me any life jackets at all. We are political adversaries, we will always be political adversaries," he said after Harper spoke.