Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Quebec Nation Motion and Deja Vu

From the mid to late 1990s I had the priviledge of working for the Liberals on Parliament Hill.

I was there when the Parliament of Canada voted to recognise Quebec as a distinct society.

I remember the debate about that move between the parties and amongst the Liberals themselves, which is why I have had such a strong sense of deja vu for the past week.

I remember I was against such a move for pretty well all of the reasons I have been hearing from Liberals about the nation motion and the nation resolution at the convention.

I argued that recognising Quebec as a distinct society was playing into the separatists' hands and they would use it to convince Quebecers to follow their dream or at the very least they would use it to acquire all sorts of powers from the Federal Government allowing them to realize their dream by the back door.

Well, I could not have been more wrong. Despite being on a high from their near victory in the 1995 referendum, despite being the government in Quebec for six years after Quebec was recognized as a distinct society and despite having the most charismatic separatist leaders since Levesque in Lucien Bouchard, the separatists failed miserably in parleying the distinct society recognition into realizing their ultimate goal. Indeed, they were such a failure that they could only look on in frustration and helplessness as the subsequent Clarity Act was met with a collective shrug in Quebec despite their best efforts to use it to create their "winning conditions". They were such a failure that they eventually lost the government in Quebec and the BQ was on its way to becoming irrelevant in Parliament, only to be saved by the sponsorship scandal. *sigh*

As for Quebec acquiring all sorts of federal powers, it just did not happen. The best they could do was get some representation in UNESCO, hardly earth shattering and hardly a development that will allow Quebec to realize independence through the back door.

I also argued that recognising Quebec as a distinct society would open the flood gates to all sorts of other demands from other provinces and groups to be recognized as distinct societies. After all we are all distinct.

The only thing I can say to that argument is that I am happy to congratulate the Middle-Aged, Greek Queens of Toronto in their recent recognition as a distinct society within Canada by the Parliament of Canada.

I also argued that recognizing Quebec as a distinct society would give the provincialists the ammunition they need to achieve their ends of dismantling our federation.

I was wrong again. The two great provincialists, Stephen (Mr. Firewall) Harper and Ralph (Get a Job) Klein have certainly continued their efforts to gut the federal government but they have not once cited or used the recognition of Quebec as a distinct society as a tool for doing so. The reason being is they do not care about such fuzzy notions as distinct society or nationhood. For them it is all about money, power and the fact they cannot get over the trauma that was delivered to their phyche by the NEP. (Both really should seek professional help to learn how to deal with that last one.).

This whole week has been almost identical to then. All of the same arguments. All of the same overheated rhetoric. The separatists crowing about their "victory" and how a separate Quebec is now in the bag. The overreaction of federalists to that crowing by the separatists. (My favourite is the front page headline of today's The Toronto Star).

Enough!

Everybody needs to step back, take a breath and begin to think clearly. This is not the first time we have been down this road and it is not the first time that the doomsayers and those with their own less than virtuous agendas have tried to use the current situation to advance those agendas. The world is not going to end, the sun will come up tomorrow and Canada will still be around for quite some time.

2 Comments:

Blogger Steve V said...

ottlib

Thanks for the great perspective, and see the forest from the trees.

November 25, 2006 10:42 PM  
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