It always happens… I take off for a few days and a huge story drops begging for mass punditry and editorial cartoons. Just as I’m starting a long Thanksgiving weekend with my wife’s family in the U.S. I hear the news that Stephen Harper drops a proposal before Parliament which would recognize Quebec as a nation within Canada. Then, the radio reception fades and I don’t hear about the story until I’m on my way back home 5 days later. (The U.S. media took no notice of this Quebec as a nation news from what I heard).
So as Canada pondered its future in what I thought would become a new constitutional crisis I decided to shut out all access to the goings-on via the Internet and concentrate on personal issues: drinking beer, eating turkey, shopping for xmas gifts for the kids, dining out with my wife, attending a bowling birthday party for my 10 year old niece, going to see Borat with my brother inlaw, and capping everything off with more brown pops before heading home.
Much to my surprise was the speed in which things would be decided. All day today the motion has been debated, and despite a few exciting bits such as the resignation of a conservative cabinet minister, the proposal is to be voted on tonight, and it’s expected to be supported by all parties, including the Liberals, and including the Bloc Quebecois. Getting those two to agree on something so divisive as the old “distinct society” issue is monumental. Pierre Trudeau ought to be rolling in his grave as the Toronto Star’s Patrick Corrigan illustrated.
I guess this all came about after Gilles Duceppe put the motion before the house that declared “Quebec a nation” without the additional “within a united Canada” which was added by the Conservatives in their own motion. Am I right? If so, then that answered my question as to why this all of a sudden came about. Dolts calling into radio talk shows gave me the wrong impression Harper just pulled this one out of his a$$. (Actually, Harper’s put a lot of thought into Canadian federalism than a lot of people know.) In fact, this recent ‘Quebec as a Nation’ thing was started by the Bloc Quebecois. The Bloc’s motion was probably inspired by Michael Ignatieff’s “Quebec is a nation” comments last month, designed to play a bit of cheap politics just on the eve of the Liberal’s leadership vote.
If tonight’s vote does in fact end this brief discussion on Canadian unity then I think Harper may have pulled off a brilliant political maneuvre as a simple response to the proposals raised by the Bloc Quebecois and Michael Ignatieff. I really don’t think anyone has an appetite to debate a largely symbolic recognition of status proposal, not now anyway.
* * * Update, Nov. 29 * * *
A little late but at least I drew something reflecting the Quebec is a nation thing:
Now I’m just wondering what’s going to happen the next time I take a couple of days off.