Stephen Harper proposed this week that Canadians should recognize Quebec and the Quebecois as a 'nation.' Does this imply that Quebec has not in the past been recognized as a nation? And if so, why not?
Moreover, how does Quebec stack up against accepted definitions of the word 'nation'?
na·tion (nā'shun) n.
A relatively large group of people organized under a single, usually independent government; a country.
The territory occupied by such a group of people: All across the nation, people are voting their representatives out.
The government of a sovereign state.
A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language; a nationality: “Historically the Ukrainians are an ancient nation which has persisted and survived through terrible calamity” (Robert Conquest).
A federation or tribe, especially one composed of Native Americans.
The territory occupied by such a federation or tribe.
[Middle English nacioun, from Old French nation, from Latin nātiō, nātiōn-, from nātus, past participle of nāscī, to be born.]
Often described as a bright fellow one can assume that Harper did his homework on this subject. A cynical response to his proposal will be that this move is simply an act of mischief designed to propel the nation - that would be Canada - into a debate over nothing. Clearly (or even vaguely) Canada comprises many nations from the First to the Last to many in between.
And within these nations we find so many cultures and religions and groups from which we draw that unique blend that defines us a peculiarly "Canadian". Recognize one nation and we recognize all nations; not a bad thing. The difference between the national Quebequois is that they are defined by another element which the other nations do not have; a border. The nations of Denmark, Spain, Scotland, England, Italy, Estonia, Germany within this sovereignty may think of the French as having the upper hand. The First Nations for their part have many borders across Canada and throughout the territories and provinces. They seem quite content for Quebec to have its nationhood. Will they feel the same when the next logical steps follow towards becoming an 'independent nation'?
Hopefully the nation debate will fade as more imporant issues fill the dance card. Smoke and mirrors will only keep the Conservatives in power for so long, but this attempt was not bad, perhaps rating an 8 out of 10 in the BS scale. Canadians, all Canadians, will soon see that they have been duped by being tossed a shallow attempt at diversion.