Friday, October 27, 2006

Canada/ Québec: Definition of "nation": Ignatieff Libs go doctrinal re the meaning of the word "nation" as applied to province, language or what?

On the website Agoravox - the Citizen Media, political thinker Gregory D. Morrow tells us "Why Recognizing Quebec as a Nation is Problematic" (Oct27,2k6). The title strikes as rather an arch circumlocution, but his five points by way of introduction do give one pause as we consider what the hullaballoo in la belle province over nationality is all about. We all know that the idea of a francophone nation in Canada is a problem for all Canadians because it's become so doctrinally loaded for several political tendencies in Quebec; but Morrow convinces us that the idea when conceptualized is also quite problematic in the academic-philosophical sense. Some of the meanings of "nation" in la francphonie canadienne, when explored in depth, contradict others in use by the same Quebec nationalist tendencies. It seems that Liberal leadership candidate Micheal Ignatieff is submitting to a blatantly self-contradictory set of ideas. But here's Morrow on the website mentioned:

Having been educated and having lived for many years in Quebec, I certainly believe that Quebec is distinct. And for me, Montreal is the prototypical Canadian city - French and English, yes, but multicultural in every sense of the word - a model Canadian society that should be exported across the country. Despite this, I find the attempts by the Ignatieff Liberals to recognize Quebec as a nation in the constitution highly problematic for 5 reasons:

1) The francophone nation is not synonymous with the province of Quebec.

2) There are many civic nations in Canada; a definition of nation based on civic values begs the real question of cultural difference.
North America > Canada > Quebec
3) Recognition doesn’t bring substantive change; it is merely a symbolic and semantic gesture that doesn’t give Quebec any additional powers.

4) The only substantive changes - Senate reform and compensation for public actions that impact property rights - which are contingent upon Conservative support, will radically alter the public sector’s role.

5) Canada cannot be “completed” by constitution; unlike the U.S., Canada’s constitution is not an originating document; instead it must be allowed to evolve with changing circumstances.

I explain each of these arguments ....
I recommend you click up Morrow's text to read it directly and in full (it's not terribly long. And it is both engaging and provocative.

-- Politicarp

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