Thursday, November 23, 2006

Is Québec a "nation"? (Part 2)

Ah, politics! Don't you just love it? Well, not really...
With the Liberals deep into soul-searching over the Québec question (again!) and the Tories apparently nowhere on it, the wily Gilles Duceppe, in typical Bloc Québécois style, tries to drive a wedge between everything in sight by putting forward a motion that :
"This House recognizes that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada."

Interestingly, he doesn't ask whether Québec forms a nation, but the Québécois people themselves, which of course begs the question of how you define "Québécois", but let's put that aside for the minute.
The equally wily Stephen Harper cleverly restates the motion by saying:

"Do the Québécois form a nation within Canada? The answer is yes. Do the Québécois form an independent nation? The answer is no."

The vote was passed resoundingly, with all parties, including the very Liberal leadership candidates who have been agonizing over this for so long, swung by the adddition of these few words.
So, what happened?
Gilles Duceppe was frustrated in his attempts at fostering dissent. Stephen Harper earns a rather unfortunate reputaion as a statesman, at least temporarily. Most of the Liberal leadership candidates are severely discomfited, except Michael Ignatieff who sees this as an important step in the direction he wants to take the country (he would see this, and more, enshrined in the constitution). Stephane Dion grudgingly accepts the motion, but continues to insist that we are just talking about semantics (true).
How this will affect the Liberal leadership election, and indeed how it will affect Canadian politics in general, remains to be seen. But you do have the feeling that something mildly monumental has just happened (by the rather mild standards of Canadian politics, that is).

No comments: