November 23, 2006

Is Duceppe Confused Or Am I?; Quebecois Vs. Quebec

First off, let me state that I do not have any serious objections to Harper's preemptive measure to recognize the Quebecois. If we are going to be forced to give them unique recognition then it's better to do it on our - federalists - terms. However, I am a bit confused about the current debate that is taking place, particularly on the part of Duceppe.

Duceppe's original motion, as I understand it, was to recognize Quebec as a nation. If this is the case, then Duceppe was essentially asking that Quebec, the province and everything within its borders, would be officially recognized as a unique nation. Harper on the other hand preempted this by introducing two key changes. One is that he has attached, "within a united Canada", but most importantly he changed 'Quebec' to 'Quebecois'. The part that I am confused with is that Duceppe while Duceppe has attempted to amend the addition of Harper's motion, he has largely ignored the Quebec-Quebecois switch. And in my mind that is the important part especially if sovereignty is the end goal.

Whether we include "within a united Canada" or "that is currently in Canada" or nothing at all just seems plain trivial if Quebec as a province is not part of the equation. If separation or sovereignty is the ultimate goal, it seems to me that it would be worthless if you do not have a home to lay claim to. There is a huge difference between being specially recognized sociologically or culturally and being recognized territorially. One is only an honour that is being bestowed upon a group. The other amounts to something much costlier for our country.

Maybe Duceppe still sees some hope for sovereignty based on a sociological recognition. Though I can't imagine that would mean much versus a separation based on territory. If you wish to be a sovereign culture and give up your Canadian citizenship and therefore letting go of all claims to the benefits that come with it, well wouldn't that simply be a personal choice? While separating the province of Quebec from Canada may only take a significant majority, I don't think it's possible for someone else decide whether or not you're a Canadian citizen. This is why I don't think recognizing the Quebecois, rather than Quebec, has any serious ramifications in the sovereignty debate. If anything, it does strengthen the idea of multiculturalism that is inherent of Canada already.

Duceppe is right, the addition Harper wanted to attach to the statement is somewhat partisan. Then again, maybe Harper went that route intentionally so the debate surrounding the motion would focus on the aspect that seems to be of least in importance. Whether or not there is any significance to using the phrase 'within a united Canada' rather than 'currently within Canada' or nothing at all seems like moot argument if we are only recognizing the Quebecois as a nation, sociological. And in that regards, it seems to me that Duceppe is missing the real significance of Harper's motion.

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Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)

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