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Old 11-24-2006, 02:23 PM   #1
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Motion to recognize "Quebecers" a nation--any thoughts?

I'm still trying to understand the implications of this myself. I need to see where this goes. I'd be interested in knowing anyone's opinion--Canadian or not.


PM declares Quebec nation 'within Canada'


TORONTO, Ontario (AP) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's stunning motion recognizing Quebec as a nation within Canada has reignited a debate over the divisive issue, with some supporters cautiously viewing it as a bold political step while critics described it as a recipe for tearing apart the country.

Harper's comments in Parliament seemed to pre-empt a planned motion by the Bloc Quebecois that states the French-speaking province is a nation. The wording of that motion, however, does not include the words "within Canada," leaving federalists worried it could be misinterpreted.

Harper said the Bloc Quebecois motion was an "unusual request" that could lead to another referendum for Quebec independence.

"Do Quebecers form a nation within a united Canada? The answer is yes," Harper on Wednesday told a cheering House of Commons to numerous standing ovations. "Do Quebecers form an independent nation? The answer is no -- and it will always be no."

Newspaper editorials weighed in on the issue Thursday, with the liberal Toronto Star saying that Harper's "intervention" in the debate simply fuels it.

"The surprise bombshell that Harper dropped yesterday ... will never placate Quebec separatists, even as it potentially weakens Canada by handing them another argument the next time -- and there almost certainly will be a 'next time' -- they seek to break up this country," said the newspaper.

"Harper's unwise intervention in this debate promises to embolden separatists and create division and bitterness."

While Quebecers have twice voted down referendums seeking independence from Canada, the last one -- in 1995 -- was narrowly defeated, and separatists rumblings continue in the province.

The issue resurfaced when Michael Ignatieff, a front-runner for the Liberal Party leadership, said the French language, history and culture mark Quebecers as a separate people who should be recognized as a nation under the constitution.

The Quebec wing of the Liberals adopted a resolution last month recognizing Quebec as a nation "within Canada" and called for the creation of a task force to advise the next leader on how to make that status official.

Harper's motion, which will be debated later in the week, comes as his Tories languish in third place in Quebec polls, behind the Bloc Quebecois and the Liberals.

On the provincial government level, the response was guarded. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein dismissed Harper's announcement, saying he had no idea what the prime minister's motivation was and that it "might be politics."

"First of all it's not legislation," Klein said. "He can say what he wants to say, as I say what I want to say from time to time, and until it's legislation, there's no need to worry about it."

Manitoba Premier Gary Doer appeared to not be supportive of Harper's motion.

"To me Canada is one nation, one country," said Doer. "I understand Quebec is unique in terms of language, culture and law, but Canada is one country."

Some people in francophone communities on the Prairies said that they have always recognized Quebec as a distinct part of the country.

"Quebec is really the center of the francophonie in Canada, and I don't think there's any problem with that," said Daniel Boucher, president of the Societe Franco-Manitobaine.

"I think it's important for Canada to have a strong Quebec, and it's also important for Canada to have strong [francophone] communities outside Quebec."

The liberal Toronto Sun voiced a measure of caution, saying that Harper "made a brilliant political move" by putting forward the motion. "But whether it will be good for national unity is another matter."

"... Is this a backdoor way of recognizing Quebec as a 'distinct society?' If not, if it's merely a token gesture to make Quebecers 'feel good' about Canada, how will that help?" the editorial said.

"... Harper's move may make the Conservatives more popular in Quebec, for now. But it's long term consequences are unknown and therefore cause for major concern."
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Old 11-24-2006, 06:06 PM   #2
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I'm not sure I understand, is this going to change any sort of relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada, or is it just calling Quebec a nation in name only?

I've always wondered how the maritimes would be effected if Quebec were to ever be truly a separate nation.
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Old 11-24-2006, 07:42 PM   #3
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Originally posted by CTU2fan
I'm not sure I understand, is this going to change any sort of relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada, or is it just calling Quebec a nation in name only?

I've always wondered how the maritimes would be effected if Quebec were to ever be truly a separate nation.
I don't think this will make much of a difference. I believe that this is in the sociological sense of the term and not political. There has to be a distinction made though. This is not calling Quebec a nation. This motion is calling "Quebecers a nation in a united Canada" and therein lies the difference.

This is purely symbolic. Historic in my view, but not legally binding. My question is: what does this mean? Are all Quebecers a nation? Or is this refering only to French-speaking Quebecois? What about anglophones and ethnic groups...where do they fit into the equation?

And yes, if Quebec would ever separate it would effectively break up the country because it would cut off the Maritimes from the rest of Canada.
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Old 11-24-2006, 10:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by CTU2fan
I'm not sure I understand, is this going to change any sort of relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada, or is it just calling Quebec a nation in name only?
It's political posturing.
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Old 11-25-2006, 10:27 AM   #5
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^ I agree with anitram. Harper is doing whatever it takes to get the votes he needs from Quebec to form a majority government. All this does is possibly give some ammunition to the separatists and piss off his own base.
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Old 11-25-2006, 10:32 AM   #6
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Yeah, it kind of sounded like the classic political nonstatement that muddies the waters instead of clearing them. (sounded awfully familiar, lol).
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Old 11-25-2006, 11:37 AM   #7
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Originally posted by trevster2k
^ I agree with anitram. Harper is doing whatever it takes to get the votes he needs from Quebec to form a majority government. All this does is possibly give some ammunition to the separatists and piss off his own base.
Sure, Harper is engaging in some political upmanship (over the Liberals and the Bloc) but this won't necessarily give more ammo to the separatists. Quebec has been after recognition for a long time now and at the end of the day, it might matter little who brought it up first - whether Ignatieff, Duceppe or Harpocrite himself. It's not as patronizing as Adscam that's for sure!
I guess we'll have a better idea how receptive people in Quebec are to this idea when the next polls come out....

It does worry me however that Charest apparently told the Assemble Generale in Quebec City that this motion will mean additional powers for Quebec. Maybe, maybe not.
But if it does, it will probably be part of Harper's more elaborate plan of decentralization for the entire country, and not just Quebec. Harper's been in favour of that for a long time now. Maybe this will get the ball rolling in that regards.
He certainly acts like a PM with a majority, doesn't he?

I do wish that none of this had been brought up in the first place though. Ignatieff didn't even live in Canada during the times we struggled with the debates on Meech Lake & Charlottetown so he has no idea how contentious the issue really became.

I really hope he doesn't emerge as the Liberal leader next week
Frankly, I'm disappointed with the whole lot.
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Old 11-25-2006, 12:18 PM   #8
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This is not Harper's fault; it is Ignatieff's fault. Nobody was talking about it until he brought it up. All Harper did is take advantage of the situation.
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Old 11-25-2006, 01:54 PM   #9
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Originally posted by anitram
This is not Harper's fault; it is Ignatieff's fault. Nobody was talking about it until he brought it up. All Harper did is take advantage of the situation.
If this is directed at me, I know this, I'm implying that in my second last paragraph.
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Old 11-25-2006, 02:54 PM   #10
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No, it was at trevster's comment. Sorry, I should have quoted.
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Old 11-25-2006, 07:06 PM   #11
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You are correct anitram, Ignatieff should have let the sleeping dog lie.

I do find it odd how when pressed Harper refers to the statement as "merely" a motion. The politicians have two be ultra-two faced with this "nation" thing. Well, we are recognizing Quebec but not THAT much.

I don't like the direction our country is going presently. We were the "cool country" a few years back both socially and economically but lately it seems we have lost a lot of momentum. And bringing up this issue and another impending election seems like we are spinning our wheels.
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Old 11-25-2006, 08:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by trevster2k
You are correct anitram, Ignatieff should have let the sleeping dog lie.

I do find it odd how when pressed Harper refers to the statement as "merely" a motion. The politicians have two be ultra-two faced with this "nation" thing. Well, we are recognizing Quebec but not THAT much.
Just when Harper was impressing me with his stand on China, he pulls this. I really don't think he (nor Ignatieff) realize the long- term ramifications of fooling with constitutional wording. It's symbolism at this point, but it's also something that will come to haunt not only them, but also future governments who are left to pick up the pieces.

Quebec is not a nation. Canada is a nation. My Canada includes Quebec as an equal partner, yes, but it's no more a distinct one than Newfoundland or Nunavut.
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Old 11-25-2006, 08:53 PM   #13
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Quebec is not a nation. Canada is a nation. My Canada includes Quebec as an equal partner, yes, but it's no more a distinct one than Newfoundland or Nunavut.
I'll have to respectfully disagree with you. English-speaking people often think nation and nation-state are interchangeable but they're not In this case nation (as understood by the Quebecois) means a people with a shared culture, a shared history, a shared language, etc.
The word could definitely apply to other groups in the country but no, Canada is not the only "nation".
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Old 11-25-2006, 09:19 PM   #14
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The word could definitely apply to other groups in the country but no, Canada is not the only "nation".
Using that logic, shouldn't the First Nations and English in Quebec have their own mini-nations? Neither of these groups are "Québécois." It gets awfully confusing, and that's the problem.
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Old 11-25-2006, 09:42 PM   #15
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Using that logic, shouldn't the First Nations and English in Quebec have their own mini-nations? Neither of these groups are "Québécois." It gets awfully confusing, and that's the problem.
It's not logic, it's the Websters dictionary
And again, it's not that they "have" a nation, it's that they are *considered* a nation.

And the First Nations are considered a nation by people, hence the word "Nation" in their title
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