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.