Friday, June 30, 2006

You say nation, I say potato

I was part of Blue Jays Nation last night at the Rogers Centre, but I’m demo’ing the new Motorla Q smartphone from Telus right now for my day job right now, so while surfing between innings I followed the great nation debate at Coyne, Cherniak and Calgary Grit’s blogs. Ironically, the Jays beat the Nationals 8-4.

As I read the threads and comments I was reminded of the two Canadian studies classes I took while a student at Carleton University. (On a tangential side-note, also in both classes was Jean-Pierre Kingsley’s nephew.) The classes were filled with lots of this sort of talk, and lots of the political correctness beloved in the halls of academia. Melting post versus mosaic, what’s a nation, yada yada. I considered a double Canadian Studies major at one point, but the second year course got just a little too stuffy and pretentious for my tastes.

My take on this whole thing is that sure, the Quebecois are a nation. Not in the country sense, but in the sense of a group of people with shared culture and values. I think it’s pretty hard to deny the Quebecois (not Quebec) fit that definition. I’ve heard critics, particularly on the right, say to admit that is playing into separatists hands, because most people don’t understand different definitions of the word nation, so we should just shut-up and dodge the question.

To that I say three things: One, you have a pretty low opinion of Canadians, Sir. Two, definitions of words are important, and I think Canada should be led by a leader who understands what words mean. Three, leaders don’t dodge the tough questions.

So, the Quebecois are a nation. They’re distinct. What does that mean for Canada? Not a whole lot, I don’t think. We have many First Nation nations in Canada as well, hence the term First Nations, I suppose. You could argue the Newfoundlanders are a nation. They’re certainly a distinct society, as is much of the Maritimes. If you’re distinct, then by virtue of not being you am I not distinct from you, and therefore, distinct as well?

Iggy wants to re-open the constitution to recognize Quebec as a nation? That’s crazy-stupid on so many levels. First, opening the constitution at all is dumb. Second, the Quebecois people are a nation, the province of Quebec is a geographic region containing the Quebecois people and other nations, including First Nations. Moreover, if Iggy wants to recognize Quebec or the Quebecois as a nation constitutionally, how about all the other nations in Canada? They’re going to want their piece too. And what does it all mean? What’s the point? Pour quoi, Michael?

I feel that Canada is a nation of nations, a community of communities. The distinctness of our parts makes the whole distinct, and unique. That’s our strength, that we don’t insist on assimilation. The clich├ęd melting pot v. mosaic. I’ll tell you one thing though. I may call myself a BCer in Toronto, but first and foremost, even if I don’t drink beer, I Am Canadian. Not a British Columbian, an Ontarioin, or (shudder) a Torontonian, but a Canadian. Period.

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Robert said...

We'll make a Torontonian out of you yet Jeff; we just need to get our claws in deeper. ;-)

Jeff said...

Not to worry Robert, my Canada includes Toronto. Just not the Maple Leafs. :)

Penelope Persons said...

AMEN! Well said, Brutha' Jeff!! Many thanks for this.