Thursday, November 23, 2006

Deep Breath

I confess, I don't really understand why people are in such a tizzy about Harper's Quebec motion. Political motivations aside, it would seem that the government has merely stated the obvious. Recognizing Quebec as a nation within a united Canada doesn't necessarily translate into a constitutional nightmare, nor does it move Quebec closer to seperation.

From everything I gather, the paradox of Quebec as nation, while simulatenously part of the larger Canada, is a concept that is readily accepted by most Quebecers. This debate is not an either/or proposition, but more an admission of the simulateneous realities. Quebec already has special powers in the constitution, which affirm a distinct situation within the federation. Embracing the idea of nation, in a cultural sense, doesn't demand extra powers, because the federalist case is still strong. If the goal is too bring people together, then a sensitivity is required and through this recognition the irritants that seperatists use are muted. The important point for English Canada, you can't project your view into the debate and not expect resistence.

I suspect Quebecers don't see yesterdays announcement as particularly earth shattering. Every poll I have every seen reveals that Quebecers do have an affinity for Canada. Canada looks more attractive when it embraces the sentiment of the majority in Quebec, not when it fights tooth and nail to curtail. Harper's motion says to Quebec, we accept the reality which you already know. Too often, English Canada tries to beat down any notion that has the potential to recognize Quebec's special status, which in turn merely alienates. You can't ignore the issue, because in so doing you allow the tensions to fester, which ultimately won't be ignored. Do we want the Bloc as permanent fixture in our federal House? The Chretien approach of do nothing, maintain the status quo, only fuels the seperatist argument. Much better in my mind, to recognize the obvious and see if there is a way to move forward together. Funny thing about compromise and openness, it has a tendency to work both ways if the sentiment is genuine. Quebec is a nation, and I am proud to be part of a Canada that thrives within this reality.


Anonymous said...

You're right Steve and that's why yesterday's announcement and next week's motion is a complete waste of time.
I don't need an MP from BC (or anywhere else for that matter) to tell me what I am or what I am not.
That said, the term "nation" seems to open a Pandora's Box outside of Quebec. The fallout from this may not be pleasant.
Thank you M Harper and M Ignatieff.

wilson said...

''I don't need an MP from BC (or anywhere else for that matter) to tell me what I am or what I am not.''

True, so why did Duceppe ask Canadians to vote on 'Quebec is a Nation' and then immediately reject the answer as 'we don't need your permission to be called a Nation?
So why did you ask Gilles????

Jeff said...

i suspect that most quebeckers, like other canadians, are still scratching their heads over harper's line on foreign policy, climate change, afghanistan, childcare, hard-headed spending cuts etc... i agree with you. harper has simply stated the obvious. quebec is a nation within canada. anyone who has spent anytime en la belle province understands that.
at the end of the day, the reality is that the values of quebecers and harper-conservatives are miles apart.

Mark Dowling said...

here's a couple of questions:

what is the threshold before you get a declaration of this sort? As has been pointed out elsewhere, we already have more than one nation with Canada - we have the First Nations. We've been dealing very well with that paradigm, just look at Oka, Caledonia and now Deseronto. So, as Serge Joyal asked, what about Acadians - are they going to get their day in the Commons?

When is "english" Canada going to start asking the West Lothian Question, given the increasing number of special deals for Quebec but which the other provinces mostly have to accept nationally and all the while Quebec votes share control over those national programs?

Anonymous said...

The finnish communities of manitoba may want to chime in here at some point... I see a lot of the worry about this declaration stemming from the potential consequences. While Quebecers may be fine to have a slow, rolling debate on this matter, maybe the next 'nation' will take a different approach. And where does this leave the white-bread groups who feel that they are being squeezed out? Or people who wear hats? Will we soon see TV spots on 'the Tim Horton's nation'?

Steve V said...

The only way Canada works is if English Canada accepts the asymmetry. If complete equality, throughout all regions is the goal, then this manifestation of Canada is doomed to failure and a two-state solution may be the best alternative.

The "Tim Horton's Nation", littering our countryside for the greater good!