There's quite an uproar right now about our PM recognizing the Quebecois as a nation. Reading the letters, editorials and blogs about it, there's quite the range of reactions.
I'm not entirely sure what to make of it myself. There's one thing I need to specify, though. The PM did *not* recognise Quebec as a nation. Quebec is a province. He recognised the Quebecois people as a nation. While many would assume that it's one and the same (as I would have, in the past), they aren't. The Quebecois are a fracophone group within Quebec - and not the only one. My husband's family is originally from the area and he has extended family spanning most of the east coast. His ancestors have been in Canada for 300 years. While francophone, they hold little love for France, which they feel abandoned the colonists. They hold little love or loyalty for the Queen, since they hold no ties to the UK. But they are not Quebecois. They consider themselves Acadian, a nation that pre-dates Canada.
The Quebecois are a group that is centred mostly around the urban areas of southern Quebec, with the exception of those that consider themselves Acadian. As I understand it, the farther north you go, the less Quebecois Quebec becomes.
One analogy that comes to mind is how Canada recognises First Nations peoples as seperate nations. It's interesting to note that the Metis is recognised as a nation, too - but the Metis do not qualify for any of the "benefits" the first nations get. Most significantly, while our federal government does recognise the Metis, many First Nations do not recognise the Metis as a nation at all. I see similarities here. I certainly doubt the Quebecois seperatists would recognise the Acadians as a seperate nation!
It's a great big mess.
So while I have extreme reservations about the Quebecois being recognised as a "nation within a nation," I also get the impression that Harper may have cut the seperatists off at the knees - but no one's quite sure if he succeeded. They got what they supposedly wanted - recognition - but by recognising the Quebecois people, there's no doubt that Quebec itself is still very much a part of Canada.
Time to see how this plays out.