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Canadian vs. Quebec Nations...

thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
edited June 2006 in A Moving Train
The thing hit me last week when a canadian told on this very same moving train, that he was unaware of a thing called the Quebec nation, and the debate has taken place this week-end because of Harper bullshit appearance at the Citadel to say that Quebec wasn't a nation (yeah, during the national holiday, asshole), after the recent event in the Catalan region that saw the Catalans being recognized as a nation even if they're part of Spain, the Scottish are recognized as a nation even if their part of the UK, now i wonder:
Why does the Canadian Prime Minister, or the Canadian population in general, refuse to accept or recognize, the fact that Quebec IS a nation?

The national assembly of Quebec, Jean Charest ahead (far from being a separatist) recognize this fact, we are a nation that is not recognize by the canadian government, what are they afraid of exactly? If this country want to be called a multicultural nation, better waken up to the culture that are actually... canadian...
"L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
-Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Post edited by Unknown User on

Comments

  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    PM accused of insulting Quebec
    Refusal to call province a nation draws ire of Bloc, PQ, but PMO stands by comments
    STEVEN CHASE AND ANDRÉ PICARD

    OTTAWA and MONTREAL -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper's refusal to call Quebec a nation has given political rivals a weapon they've been seeking to chip away at Conservative fortunes in the hotly contested province.

    Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe accused Mr. Harper of insulting Quebeckers. "If I went to Ottawa next Friday, on the eve of July 1, and I refused to recognize the existence of the Canadian nation, that would be an enormous scandal, and rightfully so," he said.

    Mr. Harper was drawn into the debate about Quebec's nationhood during a Quebec City trip on the eve of the province's politically charged St. Jean Baptiste Day holiday.

    He was asked by local reporters whether he considered Quebec a nation -- a question the Parti Québécois and Bloc Québécois had challenged him to answer.

    Mr. Harper dodged the query, saying he respects the Quebec legislature's declaration that Quebec is a nation, but felt Ottawa has no need to enter the debate. "I don't know, quite frankly, what its legal significance is," he said, adding later that "it just seems to me to be a semantic debate that doesn't serve any purpose."

    The comments were pounced upon by the Bloc, which has been looking for a wedge issue that hurts the Tories ever since the separatist party lost ground to the Conservatives in the Jan. 23 election.

    The Tories are hunting more seats in Quebec by promising to rectify the so-called fiscal imbalance of wealth between Ottawa and the provinces, cleaning up federal politics and giving Quebec City a bigger voice on the international stage.

    The Bloc's provincial allies, the Parti Québécois, said Mr. Harper's comments show he's ignorant of Quebec culture and history. "I'm disappointed to see that Mr. Harper is incapable of looking Quebeckers in the eyes and recognizing who they really are," PQ Leader André Boisclair said this weekend.

    While he wasn't criticizing Mr. Harper, Quebec Premier Jean Charest, a federalist, left no doubt about where he stood.

    "As Premier of Quebec I want to say loud and clear that we form a nation," he said at Montreal City Hall on Saturday. "The fact that we are a people and a nation doesn't contradict in any way the fact that we are also Canadian citizens."

    The Prime Minister's Office said Mr. Harper's comments stand. "I can tell you that Quebeckers know who they are, they don't need us to tell them," said Sandra Buckler, spokeswoman for Mr. Harper. "What they want is to be respected, and that is exactly what our Conservative government is doing. Mr. Boisclair is panicking because Quebeckers don't want another referendum due to our approach of a federalism of openness."

    New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton, in Quebec for St. Jean Baptiste Day on Saturday, said he's disappointed that Mr. Harper can't call Quebeckers a nation, in part because he thinks it would help assuage separatist feelings. "It's not a hard or challenging observation to make and it corresponds to historical realities."

    Political analysts said Mr. Harper has little to gain by publicly declaring that Quebec is a nation because it risks angering his base in Western Canada, or even rock-ribbed federalists inside Quebec.

    "Engaging a national debate on Quebec's role in Canada is a no-win for Stephen Harper outside of the province of Quebec," said Allan Gregg, pollster and chair of the Strategic Counsel.

    Mr. Harper should have expected the question would arise when he staged a cabinet retreat in Quebec's capital city the day before the province's national holiday, said Peter Donolo, the Strategic Counsel's executive vice-president.

    "He was clearly trying [to] exploit symbolism, so he shouldn't be too surprised when the symbolism comes around and smacks him in the head," Mr. Donolo said.

    The Tories boosted their Quebec electoral support to 25 per cent in the 2006 election, from 9 per cent in 2004. An early June Strategic Counsel poll indicated Conservative support had held steady since Jan. 23.
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • polarispolaris Posts: 3,527
    well ... what do the people who actually put harper in power think? ... those quebec seats made all the difference ...
  • even flow?even flow? Posts: 8,066
    Will there be a new mailing address instead of POC? Just curious. ;)


    Not to take the steam out of your sails there grandma, but didn't Harper cut another stupid comment about the parade here this weekend. The man just can't say the right things when the mic or camera is on.
    You've changed your place in this world!
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    polaris wrote:
    well ... what do the people who actually put harper in power think? ... those quebec seats made all the difference ...

    it's disguting, no Quebec flags were flying during the Harper visits in Beauce, why can't he come celebrate in Montreal? Anyway he was bash in every Fête Nationale concert i've seen (2 :) ) and on tv, newspapers, this was seen as a provocation, going into retreat in the citadel wall to say that Quebec isn't a nation, are we back to this kind of bullshit?
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    even flow? wrote:
    Will there be a new mailing address instead of POC? Just curious. ;)


    Not to take the steam out of your sails there grandma, but didn't Harper cut another stupid comment about the parade here this weekend. The man just can't say the right things when the mic or camera is on.

    I don't know, haven't heard that one, i'm so pissed at this PM, at least Chrétien would have babble something funny about it, and he wouldn't have retreat himself in the citadel on 24th of june to say such an idiocy...
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    Oh Polaris, Layton was walking in the streets almost hand in hand with Gilles Duceppe in Montreal ;) , saw them it was such a nice scene, almost cried , but since i was over the .08 limit i choose not to talk to them... I also like how Layton is talking about it...
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    Lack of flags at Harper Quebec speech

    Kevin Dougherty, CanWest News Service; Montreal Gazette
    Published: Sunday, June 25, 2006
    ST. JOSEPH DE BEAUCE, Que. -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper ended a two-day visit to the Quebec City region Saturday with a speech that was interrupted by the noon peal of church bells.

    "Even God is happy I am here today," he joked.

    "This is not a day for big speeches," Harper told a crowd of about 200 at the municipal park of this Beauce town south of Quebec City, after praising Maxime Bernier, his industry minister and the local Tory MP.

    The prime minister also paid tribute to the hard work and attachment to "family values" of the Beaucerons.

    Harper then shook hands and posed for pictures with ordinary Quebecers. But no flags were flying, even though it was Quebec's special day.

    "Honestly, we didn't think about it," St. Joseph Mayor Michel Cliche confided.

    But the mayor did note Harper was the first non-French Canadian prime minister ever to visit his town of about 5,000.

    On Friday, Harper and his cabinet met behind the thick stone walls of the Citadel, the 19th century fortress overlooking the old part of Quebec City.

    He noted that 2008 is the city's 400th anniversary, calling it "the original capital of Canada."

    One exception to the lack of flags Saturday was a half Canadian, half American flag on a sign carried by Lucille Gilbert.

    Harper and Bernier agreed to autograph the sign. In return, Gilbert gave the prime minister a bottle of champagne and a card.

    The Conservatives won eight of their 10 Quebec seats in this region and Harper is said to be counting on at least doubling that score in the next election, so he can form a majority government.

    "Bienvenue dans la nation de la Beauce," ("Welcome to the nation of the Beauce,") said Yvon Poulin, as he shook hands with Harper.

    "You will win 42 (Quebec) seats next time," Poulin told the prime minister.

    ""I hope so," Harper replied.

    Poulin told a reporter the Tories already have 10 1/2 Quebec seats, counting Andre Arthur, the controversial radio commentator who won Portneuf riding as an independent but votes with the Conservatives.

    Jean-Claude Richard, a trucker and former president of the Conservative riding association in neighbouring Megantic-L'Erable riding, told Harper he was in Dallas on Wednesday and returned home to shake hands with the prime minister.

    Harper ended his speech Saturday with the salutation, "Bonne Fete nationale!" a reference to Quebec's June 24th holiday.

    He did not take reporters questions, but on Friday when asked if he recognized Quebec as "a nation," a word whose meaning in French is closer to "a people" than to "a country," he said he didn't want to get into a "semantic debate that doesn't serve any purpose."

    Harper said he recognized that the Quebec National Assembly, as the province's legislature is known, unanimously approved a resolution affirming that Quebec is a nation.

    "I don't know quite frankly what its legal significance is," he said. "But it is important for the prime minister of Canada to defend the unity of Canada."

    Harper also said he disagrees with the Charest government's plan for a carbon tax, which the oil companies say would add 1.5 cent a litre to the pump price of gasoline in Quebec.

    "We believe that a carbon tax won't be effective at all," he said, adding that a carbon tax would raise gas prices for consumers.

    http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=b181e601-96f4-47b7-a0bd-925a925e231b&k=65437
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    One exception to the lack of flags Saturday was a half Canadian, half American flag on a sign carried by Lucille Gilbert.

    Harper and Bernier agreed to autograph the sign. In return, Gilbert gave the prime minister a bottle of champagne and a card.

    Sorry to quote myself but... hilarious...
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    So, how would Canada react if the Prime Minister would make an official announcement just saying " The government of Canada, officialy recognize the Quebec nation..."? Would there be riots in the streets of Vancouver and Toronto? Or would it just be business as usual? I suspect it would make no difference at all and would give the PM a huge popularity boost in Quebec, so where's the damn problem, it's 2006 damn it...
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • fifefife Posts: 3,327
    So, how would Canada react if the Prime Minister would make an official announcement just saying " The government of Canada, officialy recognize the Quebec nation..."? Would there be riots in the streets of Vancouver and Toronto? Or would it just be business as usual? I suspect it would make no difference at all and would give the PM a huge popularity boost in Quebec, so where's the damn problem, it's 2006 damn it...

    of course there would be riots in toronto, but that would be because of the world cup not because of quebec. i personally think that Toronto and Quebec are very similar.
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    fife wrote:
    of course there would be riots in toronto, but that would be because of the world cup not because of quebec. i personally think that Toronto and Quebec are very similar.

    just try to get serve in french in a Toronto restaurant, good luck, it's easier to get french service in Florida than in Toronto...
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • surferdudesurferdude Posts: 2,057
    Quebec is a province in Canada. Internally it refers to itself as a nation but it is not. If Quebec wants to be a nation it should seperate, or lobby to have all provinces be named nations. And maybe Montreal can be a distinct nation within the nation of Quebec. As Montreal has just as distinct a culture and history within Quebec as Quebec has within Canada.

    It's just time for Quebec to go it's own way. They will never be happy being a part of Canada.
    “One good thing about music,
    when it hits you, you feel to pain.
    So brutalize me with music.”
    ~ Bob Marley
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    surferdude wrote:
    Quebec is a province in Canada. Internally it refers to itself as a nation but it is not. If Quebec wants to be a nation it should seperate, or lobby to have all provinces be named nations. And maybe Montreal can be a distinct nation within the nation of Quebec. As Montreal has just as distinct a culture and history within Quebec as Quebec has within Canada.

    It's just time for Quebec to go it's own way. They will never be happy being a part of Canada.

    wow, thanks for that, Quebec is a nation, however you spin it or refuse to say so, and i don't really understand the point of not recognizing it since it's an historical fact, it's not just an opinion, it's a fact, maybe we should go directly to the UN to get this fact recognize, that's what the first nation did to get around the Canadian stubborn feeling...
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • surferdudesurferdude Posts: 2,057
    wow, thanks for that, Quebec is a nation, however you spin it or refuse to say so, and i don't really understand the point of not recognizing it since it's an historical fact, it's not just an opinion, it's a fact, maybe we should go directly to the UN to get this fact recognize, that's what the first nation did to get around the Canadian stubborn feeling...
    I'm okay with that, just take Montreal with you so they can apply for the same recognition.
    “One good thing about music,
    when it hits you, you feel to pain.
    So brutalize me with music.”
    ~ Bob Marley
  • polarispolaris Posts: 3,527
    Oh Polaris, Layton was walking in the streets almost hand in hand with Gilles Duceppe in Montreal ;) , saw them it was such a nice scene, almost cried , but since i was over the .08 limit i choose not to talk to them... I also like how Layton is talking about it...

    in all honesty ... i don't really care whether quebec calls itself a nation - its like gay marriage, it's not that big a deal i think ...

    i'm more concerned with whether or not the people who voted for harper will still vote for him ...
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    surferdude wrote:
    I'm okay with that, just take Montreal with you so they can apply for the same recognition.

    Sure, so let's go back on with the real discussion...

    So, what Canadian would do if let's say, Layton or the next Liberal party chief would become the PM and say: I recognize the Quebec nation blablabla" would you be rioting in the streets with your fellow canadians?

    If there's one culture that is strong in Canada, it's definitly not the canadian one, so why can't Canada embrace what is coming out of Quebec? As a Canadian culture thing? If it ever happen, i might consider that we're part of the same nation, until then, there's a huge gap that is to be filled between both NATIONS. It's also about language, policies, politics, etc. Of course we share some of the same values, we're not ennemies, we're just different nations.

    If you look down into your history book, this country was occupied by the first nations (who are ,and i was wrong, recognized as nations from Canada, just like Acadians), then the french, then the english, it's not hard to see where the nations are being divide, it would be possible to stay in Canada and be respected and recognize as a building or founding nation, it's all in the facts, again it's not an opinion, it's an historical fact and has nothing to do with the separation of Quebec, just like the Catalans, would you say that Spain made a mistake by recognizing the Catalans nations? You said it yourself, Quebec call themselves a nation, and that's the only requirement to be considered a nation, under a UN treaty about self determination, sign by Canada. The only thing that is left to do, is having the canadian govt. making it official, and soon write it in a constitution, that would be sign by Quebec, finally. Such a non sense to have a province who disagree with the constitution being force to deal with it anyway (that's probably a different topic)

    About Montreal, i don't know why you keep bringing that stupid thing about Montreal separating from Quebec, it's not even an argument, i'm talking about the national identity, in Montreal there's probably 90 differents nations represented, so i don't get your point, other than trying to piss me off maybe...
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    polaris wrote:
    in all honesty ... i don't really care whether quebec calls itself a nation - its like gay marriage, it's not that big a deal i think ...

    i'm more concerned with whether or not the people who voted for harper will still vote for him ...

    so to interpret your word, you're happy that Harper didn't recognize Quebec as a nation just to watch Harper's vote flying away ;).

    In Quebec it will depend on who's the next Liberal chief, i guess, and how Layton manage to stay a figure in the medias and in the population...
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • surferdudesurferdude Posts: 2,057
    About Montreal, i don't know why you keep bringing that stupid thing about Montreal separating from Quebec, it's not even an argument, i'm talking about the national identity, in Montreal there's probably 90 differents nations represented, so i don't get your point, other than trying to piss me off maybe...
    I don't know why you have a hard time accepting that Montreal has a completely different history and culture from the rest of Quebec. If reality pisses you off that is your problem.

    I would only hope that any "nation" would respect the will of it's people to seek their own "nationhood". From my experience Montreal does not want to or historically belong to the Quebec "nation" but belongs to the "nation" of Canada.
    “One good thing about music,
    when it hits you, you feel to pain.
    So brutalize me with music.”
    ~ Bob Marley
  • I beleive (or hope) Canadadians would be more than willing to embrace Quebec as a nation. I mean hell, why not? It would create a harmony not previously experienced in our great country, IMO. And as for Mr. Harper....is anyone really all that surprised that he's a complete ass?
    Want to be enlightened, like I want to be told the end.
  • polarispolaris Posts: 3,527
    so to interpret your word, you're happy that Harper didn't recognize Quebec as a nation just to watch Harper's vote flying away ;).

    In Quebec it will depend on who's the next Liberal chief, i guess, and how Layton manage to stay a figure in the medias and in the population...

    sort of ... :)

    but the guy from the rock said it quite nicely ... i believe in embracing our differences ...
  • polaris wrote:
    sort of ... :)

    but the guy from the rock said it quite nicely ... i believe in embracing our differences ...

    Well actually, I'm a gal.
    Want to be enlightened, like I want to be told the end.
  • polarispolaris Posts: 3,527
    Well actually, I'm a gal.

    ooops ... it was a coin toss ... i would have guessed gal from the beginning but then u used the word 'ass' and i leaned the other way ... sorry!
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    surferdude wrote:
    I don't know why you have a hard time accepting that Montreal has a completely different history and culture from the rest of Quebec. If reality pisses you off that is your problem.

    I would only hope that any "nation" would respect the will of it's people to seek their own "nationhood". From my experience Montreal does not want to or historically belong to the Quebec "nation" but belongs to the "nation" of Canada.

    Hehe, keep talking about that if you like it, irrelevant to me, i'm not piss i just thought you were bringing that around just to piss me off, if not well i see that you really think this way, which is irrelevant to me, as i said, Montreal is made of many nations, the one that is not recognize and is a MAJORITY in Montreal, is the Quebec one, so keep talking all you want about it...
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • polaris wrote:
    ooops ... it was a coin toss ... i would have guessed gal from the beginning but then u used the word 'ass' and i leaned the other way ... sorry!

    No harm done. But just to clear the air, us gals from the rock say "ass" all the time. :D
    Want to be enlightened, like I want to be told the end.
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    I beleive (or hope) Canadadians would be more than willing to embrace Quebec as a nation. I mean hell, why not? It would create a harmony not previously experienced in our great country, IMO. And as for Mr. Harper....is anyone really all that surprised that he's a complete ass?

    No i'm not surprise about Harper, but as i said my post come from the fact that a guy in another thread was just surprise when i talked about the Quebec nationality being an issue (he's not around in this thread), in fact it's the main reason why Quebec as yet to enter the Canadian constitution, won't happen as long as canadians think the way Surferdude think, which is a refusal to admit this reality. The opposite could be true, Harper would maybe listen more if canadians in general would have the speech you have there, which is really appreciated by the way :).
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • thankyougrandmathankyougrandma Posts: 1,182
    It's long but give it a try...

    Great hope, risk, in PM's Quebec vision
    Quebec is interested in federalism again, but we can't afford another failure, writes Andrew Duffy.

    Andrew Duffy, The Ottawa Citizen
    Published: Monday, June 26, 2006
    Prime Minister Stephen Harper's "open federalism" has raised expectations among Quebecers that their province's unique character may finally be recognized in the Constitution, says a prominent Quebec scholar.

    Antonia Maioni, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, contends in a newly published essay that Mr. Harper is the most important new federalist voice to emerge in Quebec in a decade. It's a development, she says, that holds the promise of renewal and the risk of further disappointment.

    "While the new government's overall communications strategy has been to temper expectations by focusing on a limited set of priorities, in Quebec, expectations are soaring," Ms. Maioni writes in her essay, Quebec's Blue Period.

    "Many Quebecers are projecting onto Harper their hopes and aspirations for the future of Quebec."

    Ms. Maioni's essay was published by the Conference Board of Canada as part of its CIBC Scholar-in-Residence program, which gives academics up to a year to research and write about policy issues of national importance.

    She analysed the disastrous decade for federalism that followed the 1995 referendum, and the potential impact of Mr. Harper's overture to Quebec.

    For Quebecers, the "end game" of any such project must be a clear definition of the province's place within Canada, she says. It means, Ms. Maioni argues, that Mr. Harper will not be able to avoid the question of Quebec's constitutional isolation for long.

    Quebec has never formally accepted the 1982 law that patriated the Constitution and enacted a package of legal changes, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Then-premier Rene Levesque and the national assembly of Quebec opposed the deal, which was signed by nine other premiers.

    Although legally bound by the Constitution, Quebec has never endorsed it.

    "Although it is unfashionable to mention the 'C-word' these days, sooner or later the constitutional elephant in the room will have to be acknowledged," Ms. Maioni contends.

    Already, there are rumblings in Quebec about constitutional talks. Mario Dumont, leader of the Action democratique du Quebec (ADQ), suggested last month that Mr. Harper's openness has created an opportune moment for a new round of negotiations.

    His comments followed Mr. Harper's first appearance in Montreal since his January election victory, which was secured in part by an unexpectedly strong showing in Quebec. The Conservative party won 10 seats in the province.

    Mr. Harper told his Montreal audience that he is committed to a new era of "open federalism," the tenets of which have been broadly defined as: respecting provincial jurisdictions by, among other things, not spending federal money in areas of provincial responsibility; addressing the financial imbalance between federal and provincial governments given that the latter must pay for spiralling health care and education costs; and affording provinces a stronger voice on select international stages where their interests are at play. In May, Mr. Harper gave Quebec the right to speak for itself at UNESCO, the United Nations' science and education forum.

    The prime minister characterized his as a middle-of-the-road approach that could eventually involve modest constitutional change.

    Mr. Harper's "open federalism" has caused a buzz in Quebec even though it remains broadly defined and poorly understood. Ms. Maioni attributes that reaction to the dearth of engaging ideas about federalism during the past decade -- a decade she describes as "Quebec's blue period." It was a period, she says, marked by constitutional fatigue, a preoccupation with issues such as health care and budget deficits -- and disastrous attempts by the federal Liberals to win favour with Quebecers.

    The 1995 referendum, she argues, produced an enduring and paralytic state of panic among federalists, who asked none of the right questions in the wake of their razor-thin victory.

    "Would federalist leaders in Ottawa look at the referendum results as a wake-up call to try to understand the reasons why Quebecers seemed receptive to the sovereignty idea? To try to figure out what it was about Canada that was so meaningful that they rejected sovereignty in the last instance? To consult with Quebecers and Canadians to present some sort of projet de societe that might create a sense of shared enthusiasm and belonging for a place called Canada?

    "No. Instead, the situation of panic persisted, with frenzied monitoring of public opinion polls, but little attempt to diagnose the reasons for their ebb and flow. And, of course, there were the flags."

    The flags were part of the then-Liberal government's strategy to make federal contributions to Quebec more visible. But in reality, Ms. Maioni says, the flags were "wallpaper" to cover over the cracks in Quebec's fractured relationship with the rest of Canada.

    "Badly conceived," she says, "the sponsorship program would be even less well implemented, leading to the scandal that would become the Liberal party's undoing in Quebec."

    Ultimately, Ms. Maioni says, the Liberals' loss to the Conservatives must be traced to their misguided response to a referendum in which the majority of Quebecers chose to stay in Canada.

    Results from the Jan. 23 election that brought the Harper government to power show that outside Quebec, the vote shares of the major political parties did not change dramatically. But in Quebec, the Conservatives more than doubled their vote share -- from nine per cent in 2004 to 25 per cent in 2006. The Liberals, meanwhile, attracted just 17.3 per cent of the vote -- about half of the 33.9 per cent they secured in 2004.

    "The real story of the 2006 Canadian general election is what happened inside Quebec," Ms. Maioni contends.

    Although support for the Conservatives remains relatively shallow inside Quebec, the party's electoral success represents a potentially significant change in the province's political landscape, Ms. Maioni believes.

    In winning 10 Quebec seats, the Conservatives relied upon two main sources of francophone support: the Quebec City region, known "for its vacillation of the sovereignty question and for its fickle voting pattern" and rural areas known as the 'bleu' heartland.

    To build on that support, she says, Mr. Harper will have to show that "open federalism" is meaningful. Otherwise, francophone voters are likely to return en masse to the Bloc Quebecois.

    "In the context of Quebec, unless (the Conservative party) uses those levers of power to deliver on specific promises related to Quebecers' quest for recognition and autonomy," she predicts, "it will likely be unable to dislodge the BQ."

    In other words, Mr. Harper's overture to Quebec has enormous consequences, for his own party and the country.

    If his overture eventually disappoints Quebecers, it will help to establish the winning conditions for the Parti Quebecois -- and for another referendum -- while relegating the Conservatives, once again, to the margins in Quebec.

    Still, Mr. Harper's "beau risque" has the advantage of good timing. His overture comes, not only at the end of the sponsorship scandal, but at the same time that Quebecers are actively debating the kind of society they want.

    Last fall, former PQ premier Lucien Bouchard and other prominent business leaders in Quebec published a manifesto, Pour un Quebec lucide, that called for massive investments in education, a tuition freeze, an attack on the province's debt, more private health care and measures to encourage more private investment. The changes had to be made, the business leaders said, to make Quebec more competitive and ensure its future prosperity.

    Critics -- mostly social crusaders, artists, academics and left-leaning politicians -- published their own manifesto in response, suggesting that Quebec's future rested on progressive taxation, a better distribution of wealth, ensuring access to health care and preserving public control of health care. The debate, Ms. Maioni says, cut across lines that normally divide federalists and separatists. "More extraordinary still, the debate focused on Quebec's future without so much as mentioning either sovereignty or federalism."

    As a result, Quebecers were already engaged in a serious bout of soul-searching when Mr. Harper offered his new federalist vision in an election speech in Quebec City last December. A receptive public heard his message.

    Not only has Mr. Harper changed the tone of the debate, he has managed to revitalize the effort to convince Quebecers of the benefits of being part of Canada. "In the wake of past scaremongering and blame games, it is a refreshing and important change," she says, "and it is gaining force and momentum by opinion leaders in Quebec."

    What's even more remarkable is that a westerner, Mr. Harper, has been the catalyst. "The way Quebecers are seeing him is as someone who does not have any baggage," Ms. Maioni says.

    Yet there is risk involved in raising expectations. Support for sovereignty in Quebec has remained above 40 per cent for most of the past decade even though there has been no significant debate about the Constitution during that time. Support for sovereignty spiked as high as 55 per cent at the height of the sponsorship scandal.

    Meanwhile, francophones are increasingly identifying themselves as Quebecers first, which means the sovereignist movement will also be a fact of life for the foreseeable future.

    "The main determinant of what happens next depends not only on the appeal of sovereignty, but on the articulation of a federalist vision," she says.

    That vision must be more specific than what has been presented to date about open federalism. Ms. Maioni believes the Conservative government must identify for Quebecers the benefits of remaining in Canada while convincing the rest of the country to expand its concept of federalism to embrace Quebec's essential needs.

    "The real challenge is to bring to closure the recognition of Quebec's essential needs in the Canadian federation."

    Central to those needs, she says, is a constitutional guarantee that Quebec will have the power to protect its distinct linguistic and cultural identity.

    Mr. Harper's focus on open federalism has so far cost him little political capital. There has been a muted response to his Quebec strategy in Western Canada, but there are signs that may not endure.

    Writing in the Edmonton Journal in early June, columnist Lorne Gunter poured cold water on Mr. Harper's attempt to engineer his party's future electoral success by creating a "grand Alberta-Quebec alliance."

    "Quebec doesn't really want independence, it merely wants not to be told what to do with the billions Ottawa sends it," wrote Mr. Gunter, who suggested the federal government gets the money it sends to Quebec disproportionately from Alberta.

    "Harper has not, a la Mulroney, proposed to put all the parties in a room, give each a scalpel and a copy of the Constitution, and threatened not to let them out until they have crafted the deal to end all deals. So perhaps Harper's initiative has a better than average chance of success. But there is no getting away from the money issue."

    Meanwhile, Quebecers are anxious for recognition of their distinct place in Canada and anything less will be regarded as another rejection. Sovereigntists would no doubt be eager to capitalize on any failure.

    So there is much at stake.

    "As expectations are revived," Ms. Maioni writes, "Quebecers are likely to see this as the ouverture du bal, not the end of the party. What will happen to political sentiment in the rest of the country at that point?

    "It will take a lot more inspired leadership from Ottawa ... and a much stronger federalist leadership in Quebec, to shape a durable future for Canadian federalism."

    This summer, Citizen writers are examining the concepts discussed by the Conference Board of Canada's CIBC scholars-in-residence, and their implications for the future of our country.

    This is the third in the series.

    © The Ottawa Citizen 2006

    http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=d3bf3548-11ea-40da-962c-8b479e94b73c&k=95509&p=1
    "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers"
    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • surferdudesurferdude Posts: 2,057
    Montreal is made of many nations, the one that is not recognize and is a MAJORITY in Montreal, is the Quebec one, so keep talking all you want about it...
    If Montreal is made of many nations then it doesn't share the same history or culture as the Quebec "nation" so it should not be part of the Quebec "nation". Try going to the West Island area of Montreal and tell me the majority history and culture is Quebec.

    Why would you want QUebec to sign the constitution. They have no interest in abiding by it, vis-a-vis Quebec's language laws. Or are you telling me that by calling Quebec a nation and having it sign the constitution that it will drop it's repressive, possibly rascist language laws.
    “One good thing about music,
    when it hits you, you feel to pain.
    So brutalize me with music.”
    ~ Bob Marley
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