Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Nation?

Yesterday, the Canadian Parliment passed a resolution recognizing Québécois as a nation within Canada.

Now when I first moved here I was a bit confused when I was told that the Féte de Saint-Jean-Baptiste (St John the Baptist Day) is Québéc's national holiday. "Shouldn't it be a provincial holiday?" In my mind the words nation and country mean the same thing. Consulting the dictionary, a country is a whole territory or the people of a nation. A nation is a stable community of people with a territory, history, culture, and language in common. While nation specifically states history, culture, and language, country still refers to people or territory as part of a nation. Either way, I'd say that Québéc does qualify as a nation by definition due to it's distinct cultural differences that tend to fall along the lines of language.

But the reason for this post is to talk a bit about the reaction after Prime Minister Harper proposed the resolution. For those of you who don't know, the Québéc sovereignist party, the Bloc Québécois, was planning to propose a resolution stating that Québéc should be recognized as a nation outside of Canada. Harper beat them to the punch to say that it should be a nation within Canada. Now mass media has been debating this nonstop ever since. It is the variety and difference of answers that have surprised me.

Some are saying Harper was an extremely shrewd politician for stating it. Also saying that it will appease the Québécois to be acknowledged as a nation within Canada. That this will be enough for them to forget the idea of becoming a sovereign nation.

On the another side, people are appalled that someone of Harpers intelligence (by the way, that's his redeeming quality over his counterpart down south) could totally miss the boat and open the door to Québéc sovereignty. How could he commit such a gaff?

Even the sovereigntists are divided. I've heard some say they are happy enough to be recognized as a nation. Others are assuming new rights within Canada will come from it. And others are saying this is the first step towards sovereignty.

Who's right? Who knows? Where do I stand? Well, I've said it before. Basically if they can pull it off and nothing changes, more power to them. That is unlikely, but if there is minimal change and there isn't a Montréal airlift of anglophones out of the province the day after a referendum is passed, I'd be OK with it. I like it as a place where anglophones and francophones can peaceful coexist. Like at our house.

And lastly there was talk today about how Harper and his lackeys specifically stated Québécois instead of the anglophone version Quebecers. When pressed about why one word and not both, he in no specific terms stated it primarily directed toward the one group.

This is all quite important, but also quite dramatic.

Really makes you wonder what the future holds.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

According to the official terminology database of the Government of Quebec, "granddictionnaire.com", the terms Québécois and Quebecois are the OFFICIAL ones that should be used in English, while the terms Quebecer and Quebecker are considered ACCEPTABLE. Hence, the distinction in Harper's text has no juridical consequence. Greetings, Hugo.

Frank said...

Hugo, Yes, I agree there should really be little difference, but the odd thing was that the Conservatives were making a pointed effort to specifically say Quebecois. One even said Quebecer, but quickly corrected himself. And they said that there was a reason they did not say Quebecer because they wanted to speak primarily to the francophone. It's all a silly political game for votes and control. Lets hope some amicable solution can be found.