Thursday, November 23, 2006

Quebec, A Nation Within Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he would introduce a motion recognizing that "Quebecers form a nation within a united Canada." "Our position is clear. Do the Quebecois form a nation within Canada? The answer is yes. Do the Quebecois form an independent nation? The answer is no and the answer will always be no," Harper told the House of Commons. Harper's motion was prompted by a Bloc Quebecois motion to be debated Thursday. It calls for Quebec to be recognized as a nation but does not include the words "in Canada."Harper said the issue of Quebec's nationhood should not be decided by the federal government but by the Quebec legislation. However, he said the Bloc has forced the government to take a position. The Bloc motion, which will be debated in the House of Commons on Thursday, states simply: "That this House recognizes that Quebecers form a nation." Francophone Quebec has previously held two referendums on separation, in 1980 and 1995, but rejected the idea. The word "nation" is often used in Quebec to describe the province as a distinct cultural entity, even by anti-separatist politicians such as former Premier Jean Charest.