I am grossly and violently ill this week, so much so that I can't really begin to come to grips with the dreadful decision by Harper and the other federal leaders to "recognize' a Quebec "nation". I literally am so sick that I cannot focus my eyes, but I can see where this is going. Despite what the CBC 's Don Newman says, this issue did not arise from the Quebec Liberal youth wing. It came from the BQ, which pressed Jean Chretien and Paul Martin on this issue time and again in Question Period and in motions in the House of Commons. Harper's utterly cynical decision now legitimizes the Quebec nationalist movement, Quebec's "national" capital, its "national" parks, etc. Canada becomes a redundancy in Quebec. And, yes, "nation" means two different things in French and English, but the French version is a volkishe one based on "heritage" and language.
By the same logic, all of the First Nations should be similarly "recognized". And Anglo-Quebec. And the Celtic "nation" of Altantic Canada. The Amish and Mennonites of Ontario. English-Canada. TheHutterites. The Ukrainians of the Pairies. The Finns of Northwestern Ontario. The Icelandic settlers of Manitoba. The Metis. Japanese-Canadians and Chinese Canadians of BC. All of them are distinct.
My poison-pen buddy Warren Kinsella gets this. Seems few others do.
I think this is Stephen Harper's defining moment. In the end, what possbily can come of this? Entrenchment in th Constitution? More "asymetrical federalism"?
Maybe Harper thought he was being clever, that he could derail the federal Liberal leadership convention agenda and take some of the Bloc's support. Canada and conservative federalists will pay a high price for this. Even the architects of Meech Lake stopped short of using the word "nation". They chose "distinct society" very carefully.
Harper likes Americanisms. Well, here are a couple. Imagine George III trying to derail American independence by tossing a bone of a supposedly worthless acknowldgment of an American nation? Or Lincoln making the same statement about the South in 1861? Would those gambits have worked? The answer seems obvious.