Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

The debate over 'nations'

Note: This post was written before I realized I was trans and/or before I came out online. As such, I might refer to myself as a man or use my deadname. Please read my name policy to understand how you should refer to me.

Ah, Canada. The wonderful thing about Canadian politics is that it's been the same thing for the past 139 years. Quebec is still whining about becoming a nation.

The problem comes down, as it usually does, to semantics. That's probably one of the ugliest words in the English language. Semantics. People debating over the definition of words. I don't think it's coincidence that it rhymes with pedantic. ;)

For those asleep, let me wake you up. Our Great and Mighty Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggested that Quebec be recognised as a nation within Canada. As you might expect, this did not go over well with the Bloc. It definitely threw the Liberals through a loop, however--they apparently did not see this one coming.

Now I will admit that my first reaction was this: That's stupid! Quebec isn't a nation! Look, either you're nation or you're not, and Quebec isn't a nation.

But some part of me knew I was wrong, or at least suspected it. So I trundled over to Wikipedia and looked up what a nation actually was, because believe it or not, but I didn't know--and I doubt many people do know the difference between nation and country. I draw your attention to the ambiguity in usage section.

After reading the article, I've changed my opinion. Quebec certainly does fit the definition of a nation; it has a very distinct and rich culture that has existed throughout all of Canada's history; the Québécois are indeed a people. If more people understood what the definition of a nation was, maybe this wouldn't be such an issue.

Now as if that wasn't shocking, I will now make the revelation that I particularly agree with Stephen Harper on this issue! :o At least, this is what I think: Quebec should be nation, since it fits the definition. It should not, however, be politically independent from Canada. In other words, Quebec is not a sovereign country. I like you, Quebec. :hug: Why go?

The issue of Quebec sovereignty, unfortunately, is hard to separate from the issue of Quebec nationalism. Nationalism is a really complicated concept that causes a lot of inconveniences on any side of the debates. I respect that Quebec has a strong culture, but I don't think that it would benefit either the rest of Canada or Quebec for Quebec to become its own country. Look at Nunavut: the Inuit have their own culture too (well, okay, what's left of it after we suppressed it for a century or so...), but should they separate? No. Politically, we are stronger as a cohesive body. Canada has always been a country that is supportive of multiculturalism--we are a country of many nations. I'm rather proud of that.