Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Québécois / Quebec Motion

I admit I might be a little slow to the party, but did anyone notice a slight difference in the motions recognizing a certain nation within Canada?

Here is the text of the motion entered into the House of Commons by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"THAT THIS HOUSE RECOGNIZE THAT THE QUÉBÉCOIS FORM A NATION WITHIN A UNITED CANADA."

Here is the text of the Bloc Québécois motion, from the same source.

That this House recognize that Quebeckers form a nation.

Here is the text of the Liberal Party of Canada (Quebec) motion:

Be it resolved that the Liberal Party of Canada recognizes the Quebec nation within Canada.

A few questions that I had - probably permutations of the same question...

  • Is the Québécois nation the same as the Quebec nation?
  • Can I be from Quebec and not be Québécois?
  • Can I be Québécois and not from Quebec?
  • Is the Quebec nation different than the Quebec province?
Both the Conservative and Bloc motions mention the people, but the Liberal motion mentions specifically the province. Unless the people and the province are the same?

Off the cuff, I think I'm more comfortable recognizing the nation of Québécois, than I am in recognizing the nation of Quebec - especially within the context of a "united Canada".

What do you think? Semantics? A specific choice of wording?

Updated: A BCer in Toronto adds another permutation.

Now, originally I had read the BQ’s motion translated into English as Quebecers, rather than Quebecois. That makes the difference between the BQ motion and Harper’s motion appear bigger, and the Harper motion more attractive. At this point, I’m tempted to go with Harper’s motion, as it brings it clearly from the political sense to the sociological sense.

Indeed. Again, Quebecker definitely means "from Quebec" in my mind, while Québécois talks more to the history and culture of French Canadians.

Or, does it just make the semantics muddier?

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are just as baffled as I am. I annot understand why this had to be done. Quebec is not an exclusively french province, so whad do you do with the english speaking people or even the French speaking people who do not want to be part of this? What about the tens of thosands of people who are nt english or French? What is Canada now? Is is whole, or is it to parts of one whole. I can't help but almost shed tears about this decision. It mkes absolutely no sense. I love Canada. We are all Canadians, we all people

Olaf said...

Jim,

These are all really important, I'll try to answer them as I understand them...

# Is the Québécois nation the same as the Quebec nation?

Absolutely not, by my understanding. Quebecois are the ethnic French Canadians from Quebec, which does not include English Quebeckers or ethnic minorities.

# Can I be from Quebec and not be Québécois?

Yes, I think so, according to the above definition.

# Can I be Québécois and not from Quebec?

I think so too... so long as your ancestors are. In as much as I can consider myself Scottish or whatever based on my ancestry.

# Is the Quebec nation different than the Quebec province

I think a "Quebec nation" assumes that everyone in Quebec province forms a nation distinct from Canada, which I think is emphatically wrong.

Anyways, that's just MY take. Like you said, it's all about semantics, so others disagree, which is why this is so difficult.

Jim said...

And, I saw another permutation over at BCer in Toronto's place.

Notice that the English translation of the Conservative motion still says "Québécois", while the Bloc motion says "Quebecker".

Which goes back to that whole "Can I be from Quebec and not a Québécois" question.

Quebecker definitely means "from Quebec", at least in English - while Québécois definitely speaks to the history and language and culture of French Canadians.

Anonymous said...

I am an anglophone canadian from ontario now living in quebec. i speak fluent french and live most of my day to day life in french. i would like to make one clarification, while the word quebecois most likely refers in mr harpers motion to those of french-canadian culture--this includes many people of various ethnic origines, those who have immigrated to quebec and integrated into french-speaking canadian society. coming to this province from most other places in the country *is* like coming to another country in many practical terms--in the EU citizens move from "country" to "country" as if the political borders didn;t exist. for me the quebecois nation includes all those who feel that they belong to french-speaking society in canada, the vast majority of whom are in quebec the province, but not to the exclusion of many francophones residing in ontario or manitoba for example.