November 25, 2006

Duceppe's Lost In Translation

In an interesting twist of events Duceppe has decided after all that he will support Harper's motion that "The Quebecois are a nation within a united Canada". Duceppe has also stated that this is progress for the sovereignty movement. However, it seems that whenever he talks about this part he only seems to refer to Quebec and not the Quebecois, as the motion states. Duceppe seems to have missed the significant difference between the two.

It only refers to the Quebecois in the sociological term. It recognizes the group of people regardless of their location. It negates any significance of territory and transcends borders. There are more than just Quebecois within Quebec and there are Quebecois that live outside of Quebec. And this motion simply recognizes them, as people. This has no real impact on the sovereignty of Quebec because it is simply based culturally related individuals. For sovereignty to be successful and meaningful the group would require some attachment to land. While there may be an argument that part of the connection between Quebecois is Quebec there is the issue that more than just the Quebecois hold Quebec significant. Let's remember that the land originally belonged to the First Nations people and still includes them within the borders and that the borders of Quebec have changed over its history.

The real concern though is that Duceppe has interpreted this motion as some recognition that the Quebecois are superior. While Harper and his crew have said that this motion provides them with no special privilege, it doesn't seem like either Duceppe or Boisclair necessarily agree. Since the Quebecois are the only group that are specifically recognized in this manner there is the argument that they do hold some special consideration in the eyes of the government. This is a matter that needs to be defused either through the courts or in the House. Is it possible to recognize other significant groups (Acadians, Metis, Inuit...) that hold historical and cultural importance within Canada? I'm not sure. Though I do think that if something isn't done, then as Boisclair has stated, the future relationship will only focus on "how Ottawa will now meet Quebec demands for more money, constitutional changes, an independent voice on the international stage, and more say over its own affairs". And this will be approached from a position that the Quebecois are somehow more deserving because of their specific recognition within the House.

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