Canada Under Attack
Let there be no misunderstanding about concepts of nation and nationality. The only two meanings of "nation" are (1) a human group bound together by ethnic ties, i.e. ties of blood; (2) a territorial unit that exercises political independence. We call aboriginal Canadians "nations" in that racial or ethnic sense; they used to be seen as tribes. We call Canada a "nation" in the political sense because it is an independent country.
In what sense can Quebecers be considered a nation? Quebec is not an independent country. If Quebecers are a nation because they are of the French-Canadian tribe, the volk, as the Germans used to say, then we are legitimizing racial/ethnic concepts that
are ugly almost beyond belief in the 21st century. We turn all Quebecers who don't have the right blood -- all the Schwartzes and Cohens and others -- into second-class citizens.
"Oh, no," say the politicians and Quebecers who know how offensive the old ethnic nationalism has become. "We're talking here about Quebec and Quebecers as a civic nation -- all those people who live in a territory with a distinctive mix of language, ethnic groups, culture and historical experiences."
The trouble with that redefinition of nation is that all other poliltical territories become nations because every jurisdiction has its own distinctive mix of language, ethnic groups, culture and historical experiences. If Quebec forms a civic nation, then the people of every province of Canada also form civic nations. So, perhaps, do most Canadian cities, towns and villages. The redefined term is meaninglessness and those who use it are spouting intellectual fraud that many of us think is a front for the covert
racism of the old ethnic nationalists.
Bliss is bang on. If you take the definition of nation as a people with a common language, culture, history and territory, you wind up in a world of hurt. First of all, Quebec is an incredibly diverse society, made up of people from a wide range of backgrounds so, unless you want to make the argument that only pure laine are part of the nation, there's no real case to be made. Because, at that point, who isn't a nation. Let's look at the Calgary Nation:
Common land? Yup. Calgary.
Common language? English. A larger percentage of Calgarians speak English than Quebeckers who speak French.
Common culture? There's Stampede. The Flames. The music (country) and the politics (Tory). Seems fairly unique to me.
Common history? Bitching about Ottawa together since 1905.
What about Scott Tribe's Leafs Nation?
Common land? The GTA. Much like francophones outside Quebec, Leaf fans outside Toronto are chopped liver.
Common language? English, by and large. They also have their own chants.
Common culture? Culture of defeat (which, according to Stephen Harper, doesn't make them any different from the Maritime nation I guess...).
Common history? A history of failure.
I could go on and on. But the bottom line is that there is no way to intellectually defend Harper's nation proposal. It's made the Bloc look stupid so call it smart politics if you want but I have yet to hear a compelling argument as to why this is the right thing to do.