Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

28 November 2006

So Cynical it's Almost Gallic

Our theoretically loyal prime minister, the same one who parachuted a Republican party hack (yes, that's right, the US Republican party) into the London, Ontario electoral riding over the wishes of the local Conservative Party, has had a genius idea, a pure, clean way to sweep the sovereignty debate* into history with one blow.

Or perhaps, suck.

The Liberals started a debate by proposing an internal party motion to consider Quebec a nation. When people asked what that phrase meant, they hemmed, hawed, and in a show of typical party unity, proceeded to plunge knives repeatedly into one anothers' backs. They're now saying that, like most normal Canadians, they'd prefer not to talk about it.

Stephen Harper saw an opportunity. The Conservative party always maintained that Quebec was a province of the united country of Canada. Here was a chance to affirm some "core values". So Harper got on his hind legs in parliament and said that Quebec is a nation within a united Canada.

As always, Harper was willing to let MPs vote their consciences on
this--as he was on the gay marriage vote:
Conservatives were ordered not to oppose the government motion and nearly every member showed up to support it, despite reports that some have deep reservations.

--Via CBC

This whole thing may seem a little off message for a party of federalists until you consider that "core values" in Harper's book clearly means "a willingness to prostitute myself and my party to any john with five bucks in Canadian Tire** money."

This was Stephen Harper's chance to nuzzle the Bloc Quebecois teat for votes in parliament, which his minority government desperately needs if they're going to do anything useful besides keep a bunch of old white Ameriphiles off the street.

The trouble is that Harper's definition is fuzzy. Being "Quebecois" apparently makes one part of this new nation, yet he doesn't appear to think that being a Francophone Canadian is enough.

He has not established, for example, whether a family recently arrived from Bombay (Mumbai) living in Montreal (Montréal) qualifies for the Quebec passport.

And what of a person born and raised on the West Island (Ile de L'ouest) who speaks no French and lives in Leduc, Alberta?

What about my wife--born within the borders of the nation within? Or me--who spent eight years speaking not just Francais but "Kebek-wah".

If language is a defining characteristic, then surely the Newfoundlanders are a nation within Canada. To say nothing of the Cree, Iroquois, and all the other First Nations tribes. Ukranians ... Americans ... Heck, who isn't a nation?

But wait--there's fine print. Harper's Quebec point man and Canada's Transport Minister said that when Harper spoke of the Quebecois being a nation "we meant people who came over with Champlain" or similar statements. Sound thinking. After all, they're all dead. But wouldn't citizenship in the nation-within-Canada of Quebec devolve on their descendants?

Hell--they were Catholics. They interbred with the Irish Catholics, and the English protestants, and the Germans and the Spaniards. And they spread throughout the country. It might not be overstatement to say that from the 1608 population of New France (Quebec), arose the majority of this great nation's population.

So in fact, the Nation of Quebec is the same as the population of Canada!

So glad that's sorted out. Now can we please go back to scrapping over the national identity?


*Note for people from foreign parts: Canada enjoys a tortured relationship with one of its senior provinces marked by bitterness over old wrongs, such as history--the English conquered New France about three hundred years back and some people have never forgotten it. Had the Anglos known the political whingeing and backslapping that would result, they'd have given it back.

By the standards of past debates Stephen Harper is, with his "nation-within a nation" remarks, essentially indicating his personal willingness to perform oral sex on every voting citizen of Quebec.

**Look for Les Pneus-Québec coming soon.

4 Comments:

At 2:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, should we now require all persons from this nation to carry ID stating their nationality? Should they be required to apply for work visas outside of that nation? Should they be sent back if they don't get one or be made to apply for full Canadian citizenship? Will they now demand their own currency, their own guarded border, screening of all Anglos entering Quebec?
Where will it all end? Possibly with all of the above if the Bloc has its way.

IH

 
At 7:39 AM, Blogger Metro said...

My point was that Harper's "definition" actually is just the opposite. It renders the question of Quebec nationhood moot by failing totally to define who might be able to claim Quebecois nationality.

I'm not against the idea of a "distinct society", though I loathe the term. Certainly from an historical standpoint the Quebecois are either a Founding Nation, ancient in history and lore, or a bunch of pale-faced Johnny-come-latelies. In either case they could not be confused with what came before or after them, rendereing them distinctly well, um, distinct.

 
At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand your point, but I feel that this will simply add fuel to the separatist's fire and encourage them to try harder. If they can get this, then what else can they aim for.

 
At 12:13 PM, Blogger Metro said...

But it doesn't actually get them anything. If Harper meant anything like what he seems to think he said, then the Quebecois--who remain truly undefined in a way the Métis could envy--are a "nation within Canada".

He has not said anything about the geographic boundaries of the province of Quebec, only its people.

Many of whom are busy being a nation within, for example, the loose bloc of Western separatist misery known as Alberta (soon to be renamed either Kleinia or Jesusland North).

 

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