By MP Chuck Strahl
(Member of Parliament for Chilliwack - Fraser Canyon) Separating what really matters from what’s merely interesting is something that comes with, ideally, maturity. I saw an example of that just recently when my 3 year old grandson told me that he had been to ‘importance’. I didn’t clue in right away (Grampas don’t have the gift of interpretation like Moms) but eventually figured out that what he was actually talking about was ‘Tim Hortons’, which is indeed important to a 3 year old! Our daughter Kyla became engaged the same week (lucky Tyler!) and that was even more important. Politically, the week’s highlight was all about the Motion on whether or not the Quebecois people formed a nation or not, and it turned into a question that mattered a whole lot.
The genesis of the Motion started during the Liberal leadership race, when Michael Ignatieff suggested it was time to consider… (re-defining) Quebec as a nation. This caused all kinds of angst, especially amongst Liberals, many of whom were certain this would divide their camp. The separatist Bloc, smelling blood and a chance to score some quick political points, tabled a Motion in Parliament declaring that this House recognize that Quebecers form a nation. For federalists, it looked to get dirty in a hurry.
For those of us who were elected as Reformers in 1993, the last thing we wanted was a debate on Quebec’s nationhood. We had always insisted that there was equality amongst provinces, and attempts to stray from that had a feeling of déjà vu. Surely we wouldn’t allow the Bloc to hijack Parliament with another divisive vote?
Discussions or debates on controversial subjects are a dime-a-dozen in the House of Commons, and usually nothing comes from them because they don’t come to a vote. The Bloc motion was meant to divide, (consistent with their raison d’être) and it was all set to do just that when the Prime Minister intervened with a Motion of his own basically stating
‘We’ll call the Quebecois (the people, not the province) a ‘nation’, but it has to be within a united Canada’.
Well you should have heard the indignation from the Bloc! How dare the federalists tell them that the Quebecois had to exist within a united Canada! They were outraged! Or at least they were for a day or so, when they agreed to actually support the PM’s motion!
A puzzled Canadian might ask themselves what on earth the separatists were doing supporting a motion on a united Canada, but I’m afraid it kind of defies explanation. Thankfully, even some Quebecois were openly wondering if the Bloc had finally gone past their ‘best before’ date, and that perhaps the voters should be considering their federalist option in the next election.