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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nations within nations

My thinking has been evolving on this subject, but it's hard for me to get too worked up about Stephen Harper's recognition of the Quebecois "nation" within Canada. After all, it appears the Tory position refers to the sociological or ethnic body that is the Quebecois, not the political entity that is the province of Quebec. That being the case, the recognition doesn't necessarily mean that Quebec is entitled to special rights based on any alleged nationhood.

Anyway, if one really wants to get hot under the collar about the whole concept of nations within nations, then a much better target of inquiry would be the scores of "First Nations" in B.C. that are in the process of receiving special rights within Canada.


Posted by Terry O'Neill on November 22, 2006 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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I think Harper is just sticking the final fork in Ignatieff's soon-to-be-defeated political carcass. He's now defined "Quebec as a Nation" as a "Right Wing Conservative" position. Iggy will get pounded this weekend on that point.

Harper has calculated: he'll get a majority if he runs against Bobby Rae or Stephane Dion.

Posted by: NCF TO | 2006-11-22 6:12:41 PM

Don't forget there Terry, What politicians say and what they actually do are very different things.

Posted by: Duke | 2006-11-22 6:14:55 PM

Canada is one country, Canada is one nation. Anything else is treason.

Posted by: Johan i Kanada | 2006-11-22 6:31:04 PM

The term 'nation' is very flexible and non-specific as any 'aboriginal' will tell you.

Why, wasn't there a 'nation' called Palestine at the last Olympic Games?

Let the 'genocide' begin.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-11-22 6:31:11 PM

Harper stated the obvious, in no uncertain terms - it takes guts for a politician to do that, he should be applauded.

Will this make a difference to the Liberal Party of Toronto? Probably not, they were just nattering about the issue with no intention of taking it anywhere or resolving anything, for Liberals the whole 'Quebec question' is a talking point generator that they can use to swing votes from time to time depending on how they wanted to 'play' Quebec.

Posted by: Philanthropist | 2006-11-22 6:33:15 PM

All he has done is called the Bloc's bluff and left the Libs looking like a fish on shore trying to catch it's breath.

A man among the boys. Let the games begin.

Posted by: deepblue | 2006-11-22 6:37:32 PM

Wow, so Quebec is now on par with the Native Canadian "Nations."
What about the Natives in Quebec? Nations within Nations within a larger Nation?

Posted by: Yackpack | 2006-11-22 6:43:33 PM

Speller wrote: Why, wasn't there a 'nation' called Palestine at the last Olympic Games?

No. There was something called the Palestinian Authority and they first entered Olympics in 1996. Puerto Rico falls comes under the same category.

Posted by: No Spin Zone | 2006-11-22 6:45:29 PM

Law S-3 (2005) has pretty much ensured Quebec combined with other minorities - first nations included as one of many - will continue to control the entire federal agenda culturally, politically, employment-wise, whatever. When acting in unison, their voting power in Central Canada ensures they get most of what they seek and the ROC is left to deal with it.

Quebec has always been able to "work" their way along under the Liberals and the Mulrony government. With S-3, the legal framework is now totally solidified in place to allow the minority domination to continue - short of the use of the Notwithstanding Clause.

Minority domination will continue whether the Conservatives are in power federally or whether the Liberals are in power. The applicable transfers of money/forceful suasion as required will be downloaded onto each provincial jurisdiction just has already begun with money transfers for francophone education into the ROC.

Harper's announcement in the Commons today is a harbinger of things to come - like Alberta continuing to finance more of the same old as regards Quebec (and probably more). Let's see what happens with equalization and/or some form of a carbon tax.

The new Commissioner of Official Languages while appearing before a committee & recorded on CPAC recently - (Graham Fraser,author of Sorry, I Don't Speak French)- pretty much indicated that the wheels are in motion as to how best to go about implementing Law S-3. He is very aware of the feathers this will ruffle.

A crew of about seven from the Mulroney era has just been appointed to bring "bigggg" changes to the Federal Public Civil Service. Interestingly there are some problems areas alluded to that will be challenging; however, mitigating the effects of forced bilingualism did not appear to be one of them. Really. In my mind it is one of the most significant problems - i.e. there has not been (and in fact may well be less) likelihood of room for Anglophones in any department of federal government unless they become fluently bilingual in French. The chair of this committee has indicated that, in the past, he has tended to attempt implementation to slowly and that this had been costly. Well, guess what.

Posted by: calgary clipper | 2006-11-22 6:48:33 PM

Whatever, NSZ,
I never watch sports anyway, Bread and Circuses, citizen etc....
(reference political control of Roman Empire)

Do you think, perhaps, that the notion of nations is becoming nullified???

Isn't that one of the BIG goals of International Communism?

I think it is.

So, you're cyberstalking me then NSZ...?
What have you to say about the thread topic?
(typing & reading w/o specs)

Posted by: Speller | 2006-11-22 7:04:27 PM

Quebec can be a nation within Canada all it likes.

If Kyoto is implemented, then Alberta will be a nation outside of Canada.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2006-11-22 7:14:34 PM

Another name for "a nation within a nation" is a Fifth Column. Remember the frog-eater's cowardice in World War II [and I]? What we should do is let them form an "independant" nation, than conquer them militarily and impose rulership that gives them the choice of being only an equal provence or fleeing as refugees back to France. They belong back there with the rest of the collaberationists.Even now the female Petain,Louise Arbour is in Gaza trying to find a way to stop Isreal from defending itself.

Posted by: Mister Right | 2006-11-22 7:25:39 PM

Will somebody pass the oxygen, please? Or the nitrous oxide, or something.

Posted by: Sharon | 2006-11-22 7:35:55 PM

Speller wrote: So, you're cyberstalking me then NSZ...?


Speller also wrote: Hey, Paedophile at 1:09:22,

That pretty much sums up your level of intelligence.

Posted by: No Spin Zone | 2006-11-22 7:45:58 PM

Nation, smation. I think the point is not the semantics of it all but the symbolism to the rest of the country. Let it be said first, the government is still willing to pander to Quebec. Just when we thought western alienation was over...the fire becomes lit once again.

Posted by: Jdog | 2006-11-22 8:10:13 PM

The term 'nation' is very flexible and non-specific as any 'aboriginal' will tell you.

Why, wasn't there a 'nation' called Palestine at the last Olympic Games?
(and YES at one time you had to be a nation to compete)added to mollify ankle biters

Let the 'genocide' begin.
(I use the term 'genocide' because like the term 'nation' it to has been bastardized by the Progressives and thereby has lost definitive meaning)
may they choke on the grayness they have themselves created

Posted by: Speller | 22-Nov-06 6:31:11 PM

Posted by: Speller | 2006-11-22 8:13:24 PM

"Speller also wrote: Hey, Paedophile at 1:09:22,"
Posted by: No Spin Zone | 22-Nov-06 7:45:58 PM

Not on this thread, and the posters nic was 'A Man among children' not that sociopaths understand irony.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-11-22 8:16:42 PM

As soon as everyone is recognized as special, then nobody is going to be special, and special interests will dissolve into thin air.

But, now that PM SH has meantioned it, I have always thought that Quebecers were indeed Spethel.

Good thing he recognized the nation, Nation, and NATION issue, for what it really is.

The classy inteligent act, brought tears to my eyes. Tears of laughter, of course. Especially when de bloc leader responded with dat less-dan-spectacular response. Usually, he responds to politics, wid a twin-kle in his eye, like he was just lucky in de oder room over dere.

Well, not this time!

Posted by: Lady | 2006-11-22 8:19:00 PM

same ol' mulroney allowed separatists to join the conservatives - "distinct society WITHIN Canada"

equals " nation WITHIN Canada"

Harper has just ensure the Liberals again will regain power NOT on their merits but because Canadians will kick these frauds out.

Just like they did from 180 seats to 2 seats.

I thought Harper was not like the rest of these political types.

I was wrong.

Posted by: woodbridge | 2006-11-22 9:33:58 PM

"But Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe rejected Harper's motion on Quebec's nationhood outright, saying it meant Quebecers would only be recognized as a nation if they stayed within Canada."

Someone should tell Duceppe that it would be easier to recognize Quebec as a nation if they were an actual nation.

As a separatist movement, they are spectacularly incompetent. They've been whining and moaning about separating for 30 years and haven't done a thing to make it happen. Compare and contrast to all the other areas which found a way to become sovereign nations over the same period.

As shakedown artists, they are without peer. Quebec "separation" was never meant to be anything other than extortion and here we are, 30 years later, still pretending it's a real threat.

It's long past time to quit paying them off.

Posted by: Kathryn | 2006-11-22 9:44:24 PM

French- English never did work.Let's just let them go and get it over with.We have always had one country,except for one province.Give them what they want and let's save a fortune.

Posted by: peterj | 2006-11-22 10:04:09 PM

But Kathryn, don't think the payoffs have to end if Kee-Bake were to actually leave!

How much money did Canada give to the PA this year?
How much to the PRC?
How much to Zimbabwe?

Get with the program. The payoffs don't have to end just because they aren't part of Canada.

Heck, the political influence doesn't have to end any more than the payouts do either.

What more could it possibly cost to call them a nation?

Posted by: Speller | 2006-11-22 10:04:53 PM

Why am I not surprised, that this forum -- which would have gone ballistic if the Liberals had instituted exactly the same thing -- seems to support Harper?

Fortunately, folks with somewhat more foresight (Wells, Coyne, etc.) see this for what it is. A tragedy.

Posted by: bob | 2006-11-22 11:15:25 PM

I hope everyone is aware that if Harper cannot pull things together politically in this county, it will completely fall apart under the Next Liberal abomination.

Did I ever mention how happy I am to be living in the West?

Posted by: Duke | 2006-11-22 11:16:39 PM

If nothing else, this move is a great election ploy. I suspect there will be a spring vote and the liberals, like their Democratic partner in the US have nothing to offer and the rug has been pulled out from under them.

They are on hind teat in Quebec matters, they are nowhere on law and order compared to the CPC, they have a realistic child care strategy, the liberals only have a half baked ... ever to come true nation wide state childcare plan that will compete with the health care system for funds and so on.

This is Haper's time and I hope he gets the opportunity to do what sorely needs to be done in what's left of this pretend democracy.

You talk about puppet governments ... the Liberals were nothing but a puppet government for Quebec criminals and the Power Corp. Toss in a little insider Bay Street for good measure.

This country needs a good rad flush.

Posted by: Duke | 2006-11-22 11:24:37 PM

The Liberals would never mention such a thing because:
a) They are champions of a big centralized STATE a la Pierre Trudeau,

b) They stole $500 Million dollars with during the Sponsorship Scandal with the justification of preventing this very thing because...

c) Only the Liberals can hold Canada together, their favorite method of doing so being...

d) Using Alberta as a Whipping Boy and stealing her energy revenues to bribe...

e) KEE-BAKE who always feels funny in the pants at the prospect of illgotten gains

Posted by: Speller | 2006-11-22 11:26:54 PM

Bob, Coyne and Wells are right that it is a tragedy. But it is not Harper's motion that is the tragedy. That started with Ignatieff's original gambit. Harper's bill diffuses the tragedy.

Goodbye gordian knot.

Posted by: Pete E | 2006-11-23 1:22:09 AM

Another advantage of the Harper bill: it strengthens the notion of Canada as a federation. That is, a collection of largely autonomous jurisdictions that devolve some of their powers to a central government.

I feel more enthusiastically Canadian when the federal government remembers that it is not a national government.

Posted by: Pete E | 2006-11-23 1:28:44 AM

Ten months and he sells the farm. What a shameful episode, and all the glowing praise from the spineless and the blind. This pandora's box has opened, thanks to Iggy, for the last time and no one is going to close it. Godlessness. With this move, Harper shows he never was a Westerner, and he never was a Canadian. He sold out. Big time. No guts.

Posted by: Johansen | 2006-11-23 3:20:39 AM

The Canadian Province of Quebec is a lot of things
but it ain't no nation, never will be. Uncle Stephen Harper and his band of country bumpkins have ironically been sucked in to support leadership campaign rhetoric devised by the big city Toronto Liberal brain trust who devised the idea of Ignatieff as Liberal Leader. I posted before here that everything stated in public in a leadership campaign is contrived. The "Quebec Nation" concept will finish off Dion and Dryden in the "leadership
race" Maybe we should declare New Brunswick a "nation" of course we will have to expel the Acadians again. This time we'll send them to Alberta, hopefully before Alberta opts out of the Canadian Union. Andrew Coyne compares the Harper concept to that outstanding example of two nations
living as one entity, Belgium (something like connubial sodomy, otherwise known as same sex marriage. MacLeod

Posted by: Jack MacLeod | 2006-11-23 4:37:15 AM

Most of Canadians are fed up with the constant whining from the Quebecois. If telling them they're a nation within Canada will shut them up it's worth a try. Nothing will change, they'll just be a "have-not " nation/province demanding more and more from the ROC.
The Bloc are elected in Quebec to ensure the threat of separation is kept in our faces to add clout to their demands.

One might liken it to being bestowed with an honorary doctorate of something,nothing changes, you don't become a doctor of something in practice.

Harper has the backing of Liberals and NDP, why all the fuss and blame on Harper?
He stated in clear terms, no fuzzifications as we heard in Iggy's professorial musings.
The Bloc are left slack-jawed and the Liberals have to hash and haggle it out at their convention/coronation.
The NDP of course, in their endless wisdom, ALWAYS thought Quebec constituted a Nation. Ya right.

Having such congeniality among the Opposition and the MSM on the Harper's stance is a rare occasion.
Harper has won big if it brings peace with Quebec and boots out the Bloc in the next election. Their raison d'etre has been taken away.

Posted by: Liz J | 2006-11-23 6:06:56 AM

PM Harper caught the entire MSM off guard and it is a pleasure to watch as they dangle in the "winds of change" Ibbotson sounds like he will give up Journalism to become a Buddhist Monk. In actual fact Harper made a brilliant tactical decision which as Liz points out demolishes the Bloc. At the same time
Uncle Stephen Harper demolished the Liberal Leadership Convention as being the primary upcoming news focus in the weeks ahead. The major problem the MSM and the Liberal Party continue to have is the fact they have underestimated Prime Minister
Stephen Harper. Meanwhile Ignatieff will be eternally grateful (at least for awhile!) MacLeod

Posted by: Jack MacLeod | 2006-11-23 6:30:50 AM

the resolution says:

"That this House recognize that the Quebecois form a nation within a united Canada."

"Quebecois", not quebec or quebecers. As terry pointed out, this is the recognition of an ethnic nation not a civil nation delineated by the boundaries of the province of quebec.

Posted by: Gord Tulk | 2006-11-23 7:05:33 AM

From today's National Post:

"The government's recognition of Quebec would be a "sociological termination," Mr. Harper said. His Quebec lieutenant, Lawrence Cannon, added that the government believes recognizing Quebec's nationhood within Canada has no constitutional or legal ramifications that could strengthen the separatist cause."

The key word here is "believes". A resolution is not the same as an Act or constitutional change. Yet, the influence of the Government resolution "may" not be lost on the Supreme Court in future decisions.

I am having a hard time distinguishing this move from the 90's idea of "distinct society". One of the founding principles of Canada is the equality of the provinces in law except all areas except the Senate. Even in the Senate, there is a principle of the (almost) equality of the regions.

I remember that Manning was prepared to grant the idea of "distinct society" as long as that meant no special privileges in law - it would be in name only. Not unlike what I think Harper means by "sociological termination".

I agree with the above posters that the word "nation" has changed over the years and therefore the resolution is not as troubling as it might have been previously. Yet, we have the Government of Canada leaving open the door to the idea of Quebec being treated differently in law by the Supreme Court which has already proven that it is able to "see" things in the Constitution nobody else can see. I understand that Quebec already is sometime treated differently in law, but this can only increase that legal "distinction" in the absence of additional wording denying what I think we all can see coming.

Posted by: Brent Weston | 2006-11-23 7:10:51 AM

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's a duck. Quebec is certainly as or more different from the RoC as Scotland is from other parts of the UK and few would be troubled calling the Scots a nation. As for implications, maybe we should first be discussing getting Ottawa out of provincial jurisdictional areas. I mean, Canada's not a province.

Posted by: Owen | 2006-11-23 7:33:19 AM

Is this ever a f-d up country!

- The PM of the country states that the country is not really one country, but several.
- One political party in the country's parliament wants one part of the country to leave the country. And is allowed to do this without being charged with treason!
- All parts of the country are equal, but some parts are more equal than others. It says so in the constitution.

Where is Lincoln when we need him?

Posted by: Johan i Kanada | 2006-11-23 8:30:28 AM


Few would be troubled calling the Scots a nation because at one time, they actually were a nation.

Quebec has never been any such thing and never will be.

Posted by: Kathryn | 2006-11-23 8:40:23 AM

What is funny to me as I watched a not-so-good looking Quebec chick in a street interview clip state that she is for the Harper proposal because the people of Quebec are "special".

That is what we call retarded people nowadays isn't it?

No question they are different, but special is not the right word ... I would use the word odd to describe Quebecers. Just like France.

By the by, with their shrinking birth rate due to hedonistic inertia and with the influx of unsavory immigrants, there won't be much left of the traditional Quebecer to deal with in a couple more decades. Why do you think they have seven dollar a day child care. They need kids! They won't get them.

Regarding the survival of Canada the good ... with the Jihad in full swing and quite welcome in Central Canada, this move by harper was no more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Posted by: Duke | 2006-11-23 8:48:35 AM

I was rather hoping they'd separate and finally end this blackmail bullshit...

Posted by: Canadian Observer | 2006-11-23 10:11:40 AM


The blackmail works, there's no reason to quit.

If they were serious about separation, they would have done it sometime in the last 30 years.

Posted by: Kathryn | 2006-11-23 10:29:39 AM

I think that Prime Minister Harper is trying to end the blackmail while keeping and increasing the CPC seats in Quebec. What purpose is there for the Bloc to continue to exist if Quebec is a 'nation witnin a nation'?

It cost nothing to call them a 'nation within a nation' above what we currently pay them and it may create an environment in which Quebec can truly be raised above the political blackmail threshold.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-11-23 10:38:36 AM

This country has been a mess since the Treaty of Paris.
Ontario and Quebec remind me of that dysfunctional couple in the house a few doors down; bickering and screaming at each other since day one, embarrasing themselves in front of the neighbors, but yet have been married for 30 years. Obviously an incompatible couple, but both so insecure and co-dependant that they can never summon the courage to fix the problem or get a divorce.
Round and round we go, endlessly.
They never finished that battle on the Plains of Abraham, and as a westerner I find it tiresome.
Go. Stay. Don't care.
(Although I will say that the odiferous vestiges of the Napoleonic Code polluting our system are annoying, indeed)
Time to declare the West a nation?

Posted by: Mad Mike | 2006-11-23 10:38:51 AM


Did not the phrase ‘within a united Canada' cover your first point?

Canada being the country, Quebecois being a national (with the same connotation as tribal, such as our native friends) entity, one of many national entities.

Does this not cagily strike a blow to undermine the two founding nations BS?

To the north and east of Edmonton is an area known as litte Ukraine. I have many known adult who were born in Canada and raised in the area who still speak with a heavy Ukrainian accent.

That could be termed the Ukrainian nation within a united Canada.

Being from peasant stock, that heavy concentration of Ukrainians is no different than French-speaking peasants who immigrated to Quebec and whose descendants are today's Quebecois.

I understand there's a huge Italian nation within Toronto.

It's all a word game to be sure. Nation as in United Nations does not give three US seats to Iraq, for example. One for the Kurdish nation, one for the Sunni and one for the Shi'ite.

It's a bit like Jell-o. We'll see where the debate goes.

Posted by: Set you free | 2006-11-23 10:41:32 AM

Duceppe beat the Supreme Court to it:

From Andrew Coyne today:

Gilles Duceppe, who instantly pressed his advantage: nations, he reminded the Prime Minister, "have rights."

Posted by: Brent Weston | 2006-11-23 11:34:36 AM

More from Mr Coyne:

"If they[Liberals] were afraid of the Conservatives outflanking them as the party of national unity, they need be no longer. And now that we are all agreed -- now that every federal party subscribes to the "deux nations" vision of the country, the same poisonous doctrine that Canadians have consistently and forcefully rejected whenever the opportunity has presented itself -- what argument remains against constitutionalizing it? Isn't that what we have decided the constitution is for: sending flowery billet doux to each other, recognizing each other's nationhood?"

Posted by: Brent Weston | 2006-11-23 11:38:09 AM

Yes, well, Provinces have rights too and Canada is a Confederation of Provinces Not a Federation.

Some nations leaders are called Premiers and it just so happens that is the title of our Canadian Provincial leaders.

When we have First Minister's Conferences Prime Minister Harper is just the first among equals.
That is Confederation.

What Quebec wants is to be 'special', not just one of 10 equal Provinces in Confederation.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-11-23 11:50:59 AM


It's always a good day when fools take the bait.

Posted by: Set you free | 2006-11-23 1:16:00 PM

What really pi**es people off are relatively new immigrants to this Country, having no history with us and know next to nothing about it having the gall to even stick their nose in at all.
Many came from strife and now want to attack our PM and our democratic government. We have enough trouble dealing with the native Canadians who prefer to play partisan politics than to do what's right for the country.
Our founding fathers would be astounded. It's a miracle we've endured when you listen and read the stupid crap going down today.
Thankfully we have a very astute PM at this time, the Liberals haven't got one candidate for leadership who can hold a candle to Harper.

Posted by: Liz J | 2006-11-23 1:38:40 PM

Liz J,
I hope you're right, but Paul Martin couldn't hold a candle to Stephen Harper in 2004 and still the LPC won a minority government.

If the Libranos can convince the East that they are truly under new management, well, old habits die hard.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-11-23 1:50:14 PM

It is particularly interesting that the former NDP Premier of Ontario who was picked by the MSM to lead the Liberal Party, Mr. Bob Rae has not been heard from. Harper's tactic has unquestionably boosted the Ignatieff campaign. Harper in my opinion is the only PM in recent decades who knows exactly what he wants his Government to stand for. Premier Kline summed Harper up neatly today, Harper has devised a clever tactic which caught all Political parties off guard, without naking a firm committment to a Quebec
minority seeking "independence". There will be much debate in the HofC and the Media, but in the decades ahead, Quebec, which was never a nation but simply put, a Colony of France which was secured by Great Britain through force of arms. Quebec will never be a nation, but it has had a special relationship, first in British North America, and later with the British creation, called Canada. Why, of course because of Language
and in the years prior to Confederation because of Religion. for those interesed in the conquest of French North America, read Francis Parkman's magnificent history; Wolfe and Montcalm. MacLeod

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-11-23 2:02:18 PM

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