Monday, December 04, 2006

QUEBEC; A Nation Within A Nation?




One constitutional lawyer Stephen Scott of McGill once said: it would be "disastrous for constitutional negotiations to proceed on the premise that a province, if dissatisfied, can overthrow the state," for no federation could possibly survive such a premise.

Not long ago, our Conservertive Prime Minister, Stephen Harper ambushed a proposed motion by the Bloc Quebecois calling for Quebec to be recognized as a nation by introducing his own motion in the House of Commons, that actually recognizes Quebecers as a nation “within a united Canada.” To quote; “this House recognizes that Quebecois form a nation with in a united Canada.”

Yeah, you heard me right, a nation within a nation. This is where I think Mr. Harper to be playing a dangerous game of dominos, because such sentiments that seem impotent always evolve into something else that sparks off waves of undesired repurcussions ignited by those who least intended them. Take a good example of Mikhail Gorbachev, whose good intentions of democratising and opening up of the USSR to a competitive and a free market economy led to the disintergration of the Soviet giant, her competitive advantage and a economically secure peasantry. The same sentiments in Uganda towards Buganda have left both the central government and the ever whinning Buganda kingdom weakened in the eyes of a Ugandan nationalist.

I recognize that Harper based his convictions on the definition of Quebecois. I agree that in French unlike English, a country and a nation are not synonymous because the later means a people sharing a common culture, background and language, whereas its meaning in English of geographical boundaries is categorically different. His motion scribes its salt from the word QUEBECOIS (people) and not QUEBEC (territory). However, if by constitution Canada is a bilingual country with both English and French recognized as official languages of equal status, who would be able to legally halt the separatists in Quebec from challenging the constitution in their quest for separation using the English definition?

If Quebec seceeded, Canada will cease to be the Canada I know and cherish. Just like Mikhail Gorbachev – the president without a state- the downward slope may catch Harper with no country to govern. Who knows Alberta may be next or New Brunswick. Btw, if the Quebecois are a nation clearly the Cree in Quebec itself are a nation too. Well, actually they will be a nation inside a nation of Quebec, which is inside a nation of Canada. It always has to start with one small thing leading to another and that, unfortunately’ is the problem Harper has not realized yet.

Most Canadians applaud when they hear about other distinct societies pushing for autonomy such as the Kurds who are seeking for self governance from Iraq and Turkey or the Irish from the United Kingdom, ebony Sudan from the Arabic Sudan, Chechnya from Russia et al. We applaud because we believe that separation (of others) as their fundamental right as dinstict peoples and yet, we seldom stomach the Quebec agitation. This is the hypocrisy that envelopes most of us here, if its not in your backyard, it’s a good cause.

I recognize Quebecors as a separate people with a rich history that binds Canada, but again so are the anglo-saxons, the chinese, Italians, acadians and many other immigrant communities that arrived here long ago and established successful communities. In essence we are one Canada by the Confederation Act (1867) with different rich backgrounds that have enabled this society to tolerate other school of thought and cultures manifesting it with the Multicultural Act.

A province can only propel itself in the confederation and not out. If I rented a room in this huge house would I then be justified to nullify the rental agreement, declaring my room a house and commencing paying myself the rent?

One great Canadian once said and I quote; “So the truth seems to be that under the laws of Canada, there can be: No unilateral referendums by provinces to decide the fate of the whole nation. No unilaterally declared “nations” formed inside the nation of Canada. And no unilateral claims by provinces to sovereign territory or property belonging to all Canadians.” – William Gardner.

For once people, Hopes and myself are on the same political page on this contentious issue. We believe in one Canada, because divided we fall.

21 Comments:

Blogger Lovely Amphibian said...

seems like this madness is everywhere. in Uganda, we think of it and try to wish it away because we dont want to go into the hussle of fighting it. but the whole seccession thing has been whispered lately and the sky could get dark any time. a country within a country, indeed!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 8:48:00 AM  
Blogger Zack said...

Will beg your pardon for having to relate this to back home but I really wish more people in Uganda would see it (in their case) this way too! You see we can only go forward..

...and can't afford to play dominoes with lives of 26 million. A lot at stake! m sure it's still early to walk outta the card game, inn'it?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Gary P said...

If Harper believes Quebec is a nation, he should have run on that platform 10 months ago. He might have won a few more seats in Quebec, and lost dozens across the rest of Canada.

This sucking up to Separatists will get us nowhere because they won't be satisfied until they have it all. These half measures only hurt the equality of all Canadians.

Chretien, despite being against it for years, ultimately caved in and passed a resolution in Parliament declaring Quebec a Distinct Society. What good did that do anyone? These games are pointless and ultimately hurtful.

G. Pearson

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most significant accomplishment of the Parti Quebecois was to replace the notion of Canadien Francais with Quebecois.

In doing so they abandoned all French speaking people outside Quebec but they succeeded in attaching a specific territory to the French speaking people of canada and changing Quebec nationalism from an ethnic movement to a territorial movement.

As a territory Quebec has no particular claim to special status. As an ethnic group French Canadians may have as to Hurons and Cree etc. but without a territory there is no possibility of separation.

It's sad that we as a country have accepted the territorial ploy of the PQ. At the most fundamental level I don't think that a Greek, Italian or Jamaican Quebecker is actually part of this nation Mr. Harper has declared. Quebec nationalism remains ethnic nationalism in spite of the marketing

R. Chapman

Montreal

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 11:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Charles said...

The continuing whining over Quebec 'nationhood' turns my stomach, and I think it is high time that the Federal Government stopped bending over backward to appease those who can never be pacified.

Quebec has held the rest of the country hostage for too long. The collective bleating of the Quebec seperatist movement sounds to me like a snotty little kid in the sandbox: "if I can't play the game my way, I'm taking my marbles and going home".

Why don't you people try to work with the rest of the country and amend the Charter to extend the rights and jurisdiction of all provinces and territories, instead of only looking out for yourselves?

Any special recognition of a seperate nation within the Confederation of Canada will open a Pandora's Box of other ethnic and cultural groups looking for the same treatment.

Let's not forget that Montreal didn't even exist before a distinct and identifable culture had been established in Newfoundland for generations. Where is the recognition of Newfoundland as a nation within Canada? Can anyone out there seriously argue that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians do not represent a distinct culture within Canada?

Harper might as well have a form made up for nationhood application, available for pick-up at your local government building.

Let's see who else we'd have applications from who could argue to be a 'distinct culture' or nation among themselves: Acadians, First Nations, Gays and Lesbians maybe, Muslim Canadians, Russian Canadians, British Canadians, Jamaican Canadians, the hard of hearing perhaps, Canadians who walk with a limp, the GenX nation, the GenY nation, the boomer nation, the nation who hates to get out of bed before noon,.... ad infititum, ad nauseum.

Charles, BC.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006 4:12:00 PM  
Anonymous feliste said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006 5:02:00 PM  
Blogger F. Safari said...

Sis, International law states that recognition of dinstinct people can occur by explicit or implicit acts including treaties, negotiations, and diplomatic relations.

However, the moment Quebec inked the Confederation Act, they ceased to be recognized as so by international law because they were assumed to have agreed to transfer their rights as dinstinct people to the confederation to the common good of all people in that confederation , without duress.

That does not totally eliminate the fact that all participants of the confederation are not dinstinct people because we all fulfill the characteristics of this concept: commonality of history, shared language, culture, and ethnicity. The Multicultural Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms made sure of that.

By declaring one people as a "nation" the door opens for all of us to attempt such rhetorical ventures. Rwandese-Canadians here we come as a "nation" in the greater nation of Canada.

Harper, thats a can of worms you are opening indeed.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006 5:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Hipster said...

Quebec is a nation without doubt.

For all of you who speak about politics and history, but have never taken the time to study and or learn it, i suggest you go look up the definition of what constitutes a nation (there are various types: socio-political, cultural, civic, ethnic, etc.)before you demonstrate your ingorance.

Many of the comments i am reading are confusing the notion of nation with that of a state or a country.

Many states in the world are mulit-national and there is nothing wrong with this. If you embrace this notion without fearing it we can all have our cake and eat it to and we may, once and for all, undermine the sovereignist movement.

Canada is a a civic or socio-political state/nation. This implies enough flexibility to have component nations within it(meaning if Quebecers want to be Quebecers first and Canadian second, who cares!). We have our many first nations, along with others like the Acadians.

What defines a nation, beyond the obvious (culture, borders, ethnicity, religion, language),is a shared/common experience or memory. Quebecers relationship with Canada is defined by their unique experience within this state.

Plz dont forget the famous words of Lord Durham: "the problem in the Canada's is that we have two nations waring in the bussom of one state". If he saw it that way so long ago, how come we can't recognize this today?

Peter

Friday, December 08, 2006 9:40:00 AM  
Blogger eddiie said...

Quebecois form a nation with in a united Canada.”........can i say that one sounds like Lesotho....if so then, i wonder how they are gonna manage...

But i believe they have to get down to the citizens other than doing it all in the house....

Sunday, December 10, 2006 2:30:00 AM  
Anonymous anonymous? said...

This debate reminds me of the original discussion back when the Canadian Flag was being designed.

The reason the three-leaf design was changed to the single leaf design was that it would be seen by many that each leaf would represent the French, the English and the First Nations.

There is only one nation, the nation of Canada; inclusive of all cultures and societies.

Under one leaf, we are all Canadians in a united Canada

Monday, December 11, 2006 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Meere said...

Eeeh Jeni, your party- the NDP, is in bed with Harper on this. Shouldn't you be frying Jack Layton too?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 1:15:00 AM  
Blogger The 0ne said...

In other related news: Its Christmas Day and I'm wishing you a merry one.

Monday, December 25, 2006 4:36:00 AM  
Blogger joshi said...

Merry xmas JKB..and have a splendid new year..to you and ur family too!!(hope ur still coming for the work year in london)

Monday, December 25, 2006 7:37:00 AM  
Blogger countryboy said...

hey jkb, hopefully u passed through xmas full of blessings. i wish u good health and more happiness in 2007.

Thursday, December 28, 2006 8:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Barsawad said...

Wishing you a Happy holiday season and all the Very Best!

Saturday, December 30, 2006 11:13:00 AM  
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