Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bad Boys Bad Boys, Watcha Gonna Do

Interesting tid-bit in yesterday's Herard from Intergovernmental Relations Minister Guy Boutilier:


Yet, Boutilier said Alberta and other provinces and territories are owed the same rights associated with the Quebec nation, a distinction recently approved by the House of Commons.
"Each province is a nation within a nation," he said.

What exactly that title means is open for interpretation, Boutilier noted.

However, for Alberta, he said it could be a recognition that it deserves more immigration powers to address the mounting labour crunch, and that the federal government solve a fiscal imbalance that some provinces claim sees Ottawa collecting more tax revenue than necessary.


Hear, hear! I for one would love to see a resolution before the House recognizing Alberta as a nation (within a unified Canada, bien sur).

14 Comments:

  • Hahaha

    I love Canadian politics

    By Blogger Antonio, at 1:20 PM  

  • Forget nation status. How about a bill recognizing that Western Canadians are as deserving of the concept of equality as are gays and lesbians, and the House will commit to giving the west the House and Senate seats that their population merit?

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 1:51 PM  

  • What a lot of bullshit! It was Lougheed that termed the word "Albertan" and I have hated it ever since, because it actually denotes a man without a country.

    I am Canadian. I will die a Canadian. I live in Alberta, but I am free to move anywhere inside Canada. Even Quebec.

    And any ding dong that says otherwise is suffering from "nation" dis-ease.

    It really ticks me off that Quebec is regarded as an ethnic group deserving of special Commons Resolutions paying lip service to the French Fact, while we do not have similar Commons Resolutions to the Loyalist Fact in Ontario, or to the First Nations Fact in the West where together, these three "Facts" beat off an American Invasion of our Land in 1812.

    By Blogger Joe Green, at 3:28 PM  

  • How about a bill recognizing that Western Canadians are as deserving of the concept of equality as are gays and lesbians, and the House will commit to giving the west the House and Senate seats that their population merit?

    I didn't realize that the House had committed to giving gays and lesbians the House and Senate seats that their population merits.

    By Blogger robedger, at 4:37 PM  

  • while we do not have similar Commons Resolutions to the Loyalist Fact in Ontario, or to the First Nations Fact in the West where together, these three "Facts" beat off an American Invasion of our Land in 1812.

    Turn it the other way around; no one would deny recognition if it were sought out; and I think in the case of First Nations we're talking past tense, given that they're called the First Nations.

    Québecois do comprise a nation in a clearer way than many other groups in Canada, in the senses of cohesion, self-perception, a distinct culture and society, etc; but I don't think anyone would seriously contend they're the only nation in Canada. It just so happens that history and politics have made them the nation that we are having political discussions about.

    The UK has at least 4 easily defined nations in it - more, depending on who you ask - but Scotland is one type of political puzzle, N. Ireland is another, and Wales another. Similarly, in Canada, the First Nations and Québec are the most politically immediate 'national questions,' but certainly not the only nations.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 9:12 PM  

  • Well, it seems to me Jason, that these are largely empty gestures and therefore gestures filled with mischief.

    The "French Fact" was "recognized" in the Quebec Act of 1795 and which many Americans regard as being the actual cause from their perspective for the War of 1812.

    It never the less granted widespread and sweeping local authority to Quebec long before anything else like that took place in British North America.

    What really is wrong with this sort of posturing is that it is American inspired from their static perspective of an "indivisible union" as opposed to the actual fact which is that Canada is a "dynamically balanced Confederation".

    We "recognize" the components of our Confederacy as "Provinces", which recognizes Quebec and which recognizes Ontario. The recognition accorded to First Nations is completely inadequate compared to what was originally promised to Tecumseh who led the First Nations. Years later not only did the leaders of Upper and Lower Canada break their deal with the First Nations, but they failed to provide any sort of "adjustment" that might have ameliorated the changes that took place without the consent of Canada's First Nations.

    It seems to me that rather than engage in empty and fruitless debated over Quebec's "nationhood", that it would be far more productive to discuss that ACTUAL powers that the Province of Quebec has, and the powers that it doesn NOT have.

    What does Canada with its Provinces including Quebec and Ontario actually seek? Well for a Confederacy like ours, its always adjusting, always changing, and unlike the US, up here there is "flexible federalism". That means that powers can be shifted back and forth as we ourselves decide to do that.

    In this sense, Canada is the most decentralized and one of the oldest countries on Earth.

    I therefore really get ticked off when American imspired shortcomings are floated up as being "reforms" rather than what they actually are, which is an attack upon Canada's historic, and evolving institutions.

    I utterly reject the American inspired ideas of "fixed term" elections, and I utterly reject the idea that "constitutions" are "written in stone". They are not, and never will be.

    Just look at the grid-lock that these unworkable American ideas have created in Washington.

    That is why I am always amazed at how Amerika promoters always float up the US Constitution as being something "sacred".

    Not be a long shot.

    By Blogger Joe Green, at 3:03 AM  

  • Well, it seems to me Jason, that these are largely empty gestures and therefore gestures filled with mischief.

    The "French Fact" was "recognized" in the Quebec Act of 1795 and which many Americans regard as being the actual cause from their perspective for the War of 1812.

    It never the less granted widespread and sweeping local authority to Quebec long before anything else like that took place in British North America.

    The 'fact' of today is quite different from the 'fact' of the late 18th Century however; the "master narrative" of Québec sovereigntism rests on our non-recognition of the post-French-Canadian, distinctly Québécois facts that emerged in the Quiet Revolution and the decades surrounding it.

    What really is wrong with this sort of posturing is that it is American inspired from their static perspective of an "indivisible union" as opposed to the actual fact which is that Canada is a "dynamically balanced Confederation".

    I don't like the idea of static or immutable constitutions; I think you're taking the fact that Québécois nationhood is currently in the realm of ideas, and conflating that with 'idealized constitutionalism,' or something of that nature. I don't propose that we find some glorious perfect solution that will never come; only that we acknowledge the vital importance of ideas. We have lost the intellectual argument in Québec by not bothering to even engage with an entirely different version of 20th century Canadian history.

    I'm not sentimental about constitutions in the least; to me the vital constitution is the real system of governance of a country, not the document that codifies it. But in a practical sense I am afraid of constitutional revision, because of the experience of Meech and Charlottetown.

    That's really neither here nor there; I don't see the acknowledgement of vital truths to necessarily be the same as constitutional revision; nor do I see it as an empty sham.

    We can still make an empty sham of the nation resolution; but that isn't its intrinsic character. We can also make it a milestone, a point of intellectual agreement between different points of view on Canadian national questions that have rarely met in recent decades. If that isn't important, than presumable ideas and Québécois intellectual life aren't either.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 12:41 PM  

  • jascon townsend wrote this

    "I don't like the idea of static or immutable constitutions; I think you're taking the fact that Québécois nationhood is currently in the realm of ideas, and conflating that with 'idealized constitutionalism,' or something of that nature. I don't propose that we find some glorious perfect solution that will never come; only that we acknowledge the vital importance of ideas."

    My own view is that I distrust "revolution". I embrace "evolution" and there is no doubt that Quebec and its people have evolved and changed since 1795 and the original Quebec Act. My view is that its Quebec's right as a member of a Confederacy to seek changes, but what is not at all clear to me what precisely what changes does Quebec seek, apart from a complete devolution of power from the central government to the Provinces. That is the practical end point of the demands I understand from the BLOC, and these do not seem to me to be reasonable demands, not because it comes from Quebec, but because I would not agree if these same demands were coming from Ontario or Alberta or BC.

    Quebec already administers its own tax system and its own pension system, which the rest of Canada participates in and funds. That by itself seems to me to be evidence of the flexibiilty of the Rest of Canada in its relationship with Quebec, and indeed, we certainly recognize that our mutual defence and security arrangements are strengthened when we do that in one place for the entire country. Say what you will about Jean Chretien, and the professional Canadian diplomats that work for the federal government, but they certainly played a vital role in ensuring we did not slide into a quagmire in Iraq for example, and that served Quebec as well as the Rest of Canada.

    Then you can consider for a moment the theoretical construct of Quebec as an independent sovereign country. That most certainly would set the stage of conflict over First Nations claims, and historic treaties and claims upon the new governments, both in Quebec and in the Rest of Canada.

    And what in the end is the actual benefit to the people of Quebec and the People of Canada?

    Well, Quebec would drift toward Europe in strategic terms, and that would simply invite American interventions such as have taken place in Haiti. Violence and disorder always depress living standards and wealth.

    For the rest of Canada, particularly Western Canada, the stage would be set for American annexation, which the Americans would be only too happy to ingest, chew up, and then spit out when the resources have all been drilled out.

    That political effort to destroy Canada is much more virulent and much more malignant in Western Canada then it ever was from Quebec.

    There are other issues, such as a common currency for example. The Canadian dollar is much stronger then say a Quebec dollar, or a ROC dollar primarily because of its better diversity base based over the entire country.

    Canada was formed in 1867 as a result of fears of the spreading American Civil War. Today Canadians face similar threats from the US, this time in the pathological "war on terror" that is threatening all forms of civil liberties and freedoms south of the boarder.

    The lesson of 1867 was that there is security in numbers, and that should remain a dominant theme today. Personally I like the fact that Stephane Dion has close ties with France and Europe, it directly enhances our independence from Marka. Together with the United Nations, that just might give the Yanks pause before flying C130 gunships over Montreal or Vancouver.

    I think we as Canadians should be also inviting direct comparisons between Quebec and Louisiana in a number of things, such as the use of French aboard military ships, aircraft and bases. Does that happen in the Louisina National Guard for example?

    I appreciate the impulse for freedon from the arts community, but the question is, where is that impulse most valued and protected??? What do they additionally seek and desire that they cannot achieve within Canadian Confederation?

    I see this question rather like Canada's membership in NATO. We require collective security arrangements because of our small size. But that kind of agreement is very limited and its restricted. If Quebec were to depend only upon such arrangements, how could it achieve its destiny, from a footprint not that different from Iceland or Haiti?

    By Blogger Joe Green, at 10:05 PM  

  • "But in a practical sense I am afraid of constitutional revision, because of the experience of Meech and Charlottetown."

    Well, you need to remember that Meech and Charlottetown was not the first time that proposals to update the Canadian Constitution failed, primarily because of objections from Quebec. Well in negotiations, that happens, and it certainly has been going on for decades before Mulroney first appeared on the scene.

    Meech failed because the politicians failed and they failed because of their poor character. Everyone remembers how Mulroney did a "bait and switch" on Clyde Wells. And everyone remembers that the Premier of Quebec waffled when the chips were down, and for whatever reason could not deliver what he had earlier agreed to with the other premiers.

    And then there was a kind of blind stupidity by the Premiers. How on earth in a vibrant democracy can you ever hope for "unanimity"?

    Had that passed, Canadians would have found themselves facing more grid lock then exists in Washington today.

    The only thing I have a problem with in terms of the Clarity Act, is that future "referendums" SHOULD require a 2/3 majority to carry, like any other money bill. A simply majority, with razor thin margins either way, set the stage for future conflicts and civil wars that no one needs.

    I also think that people in Canada tend to romanticize these political dramas, and fail to absorb the lessons of history, that conflict usually is violent, its usually bloody, and its usually unpredictable in its outcome. And it almost NEVER satisfies the "Better Angels of our Nature".

    By Blogger Joe Green, at 10:13 PM  

  • Blogger ate a very, very long reply.

    I don't disagree with much of what you said, but on the other hand I also don't think much of it applied to the Québécois nationhood motion, which is in my view an overdue riposte to the dominance of the anti-federalist point of view in Québec, that portrays the rest of Canada as out of touch with Québécois sociological reality, and committed to assimilation under other names.

    In legal terms, the political entity the Province of Québec has more autonomy than most politically sensitive nations ever dream of, let alone get. The province isn't the nation, but the distinction needn't create any grievances. And, this isn't because Québec is different but because all Canadian provinces have that much autonomy. So for me, it isn't a question of devolution at all. Canada is, for good or for ill, already has a very loose federal structure that I wouldn't propose to loosen any more.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 6:19 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Joe Green, at 11:31 PM  

  • Well Jason, I think that the Rest of Canada has a pretty clear idea about the sociological conditions inside Quebec. Quebec wishes to protect and support its unique language and cultural aspirations in North America, and most Canadians endorse and support its efforts to do that. If we did not, today there would not be a Quebec, there would be a Lousiana North.

    I see Quebec as an essential political feature in our Canadian makeup that blocks American Ambitions in Canada. And I see the Rest of Canada as being the essential political feature that blocks European ambitions in Quebec.

    I simply do not wish to see any more "rolling of the dice" with Canada's future by Quebec politicians.

    Nor do I recognize razor thin margins on the Presto Manning model of 50% plus one as being a formula for future adjustments and accomodations, rather its sets the stage for much uncertainty and conflict.

    I stand with Diefenbaker who said clearly and loudly, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I stand for One Canada, an Undivided Canada". And indeed Trudeau and Laurier, both French speaking Prime Ministers were among the strongest supporters of a single Canadian Sovereign Nation.

    By Blogger Joe Green, at 11:34 PM  

  • In other words, the Harper Resolution is nothing but pure mischief, and gives the Separatists still one more undeserved shot at the country.

    I think that Canadians, including Quebecois want to move on with the kinds of issues and agendas that Stephane Dion has identified, namely strengthening the Canadian Economy (and that means doing something about American trade abuses), attending to the social safety net, and coming to grips with environmental issues.

    As for Quebec and the Canadian Constitution, the Constitution Act of 1982 is still open if Quebec wishes to sign, it should be invited to do so on the same basis as everyone else. And if it needs something different, then that is a point of departure for Quebec it initiate.

    By Blogger Joe Green, at 11:41 PM  

  • I think, to be honest, you're too sanguine about disconnect between Canada's two most distinct societies.

    To Laurier you could add Bourassa, St. Laurent and a host of other luminaries before the Quiet Revolution; and after the quiet revolution there are admirable men like Trudeau and Chrétien whose visions were emphatically Canadian-nationalist. I honor them, but that doesn't mean I assume that their past approaches were always 100% correct; they were living with and adapting to the changes in Québécois society as they happened. I certainly do not think they deserved the labels of scorn they were given by francophone Québec, but I also understand how it happened.

    If we just make Diefenbaker speeches, we'll never penetrate the barrier of incomprehension that makes good, honest, thoughtful people in Quebec consider good, honest, thoughtful people like PET and JC to be sell-outs. You can just deride that viewpoint as ignorant, but given its currency in francophone Quebec I think that would be foolish. Both electorally and in terms of national unity.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 10:54 AM  

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