No, I’m not talking about dear old Michael Richards’s outburst of a few days ago. I’m talking about a different n-word. Nation! Sorry, George Stroumboulopoulos, I had to steal your bit from the hour, just because I thought it was hilarious.
Seriously, though, what in hell does all of this mean? Let me try and process this. Stephen Harper has said that Quebec is a nation within Canada. That alone is enough to give me an aneurysm from the amount of brain power required to try and grasp what this even means. Let me define nation. According to dictionary.com, a nation is:
a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own: The president spoke to the nation about the new tax.
the territory or country itself: the nations of Central America.
a member tribe of an American Indian confederation.
an aggregation of persons of the same ethnic family, often speaking the same language or cognate languages.
So, how does this even apply to Quebec? Definition 1 doesn’t make sense, they don’t have a government peculiarly their own, because they’re still subordinate to the Canadian government. No. 2 doesn’t really work because no. 1’s already screwed. Since they’re not natives, they’re colonisers just like the rest of us, they can’t take no. 3, and no. 4 doesn’t even work, because look at how many English-speakers and speakers of other languages live in Quebec, just like they do in the rest of the country.
Since this motion makes 0 sense on its own, I don’t know what it really means. Is it a step towards Quebec separating? Not on the surface, because Harper said that Quebec would never be a nation disconnected from Canada. But what else could it be? It doesn’t really satisfy anyone, it’s already made the Bloc Québécois mad, saying they won’t accept this. So what will we have to do next to make them happy? Make baby steps towards having their sovereign until they need something from Canada Quebec?
If your head isn’t already spinning enough, what the Bloc says back makes me very confused. I quote:
“The Quebec nation cannot be boiled down to one of two options: a nation within a united Canada, or a separate, sovereign nation.”
So what *do* you want? Are you just fighting for the sake of fighting? Oh of course you are! That’s what all politicians do.
And who’s going to be next to ask to be a nation within Canada, whatever that means? Could Newfoundland ask to become a nation? What about the Acadians in New Brunswick? What about Toronto because of all the Asians? Or what about all the fragments of Quebec who don’t want to separate? Can they be nations within Quebec? You can’t do that to a country!
I went and stayed in Quebec for five weeks. That by no means makes me an expert on their history, but it made me see a few things. I know their language is eroding, and that it was suppressed by previous federal governments, and that’s not cool. I know they feel that English is pervading their culture, and it kind of is. But unfortunately, that’s mostly a product of their geographical location. Let’s face it, they are in an English sandwich! The only way they could save their language the way they want to save it is to reloacate everyone to either an island somewhere, or to France or Belgium or somewhere that speaks French. The human brain picks up on its surroundings, and those cannot be legislated out!
I think my head has stopped spinning, but oddly enough, it’s right back where it started. I can’t make sense of this, and I don’t think I ever will. The only way it will ever make sense is in retrospect, after whatever comes of this has time to unfold. It doesn’t look, to me, like a good chain of events.