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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 12.01.06
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

About That Quebec 'Nation' Thing

Quebecers continue to celebrate last week's huge cultural victory after Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented a motion that would formally recognize Quebec as a nation within Canada.

While the sound of car horns has diminished and fewer people are waving flags and embracing tearfully in the street, Quebecers can still be seen gathered in coffee shops and video lottery parlours, feverishly discussing whether Quebec is now a concept or merely a word.

Even Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe was rumoured to have grinned ever-so-slightly.

"Well, obviously it's a step forward. However, I don't like the fact that the other parties conspired to do this behind our back," Duceppe told reporters. "That was sneaky and not very nice. Not only that but they won't let us sit at their table at lunchtime and we always get picked last for sports teams."

Asked what this new status will mean for Quebec, Duceppe replied, "Status as a nation will allow us to enjoy such nation-like elements as, oh, I don't know, a flag, borders with our neighbours, a separate tax system. And don't forget holidays. We can have our own national holidays. I know, it's incredible, right?"

In fact, the ramifications of this new status of not just a province but a "special" province are still being considered. For example, Quebec's First Nations communities held anxious meetings to sort out their own status under Quebec's new designation. Were they a nation within a nation within a nation? And the Cree Nation, was it a nation within a nation within a nation within a nation?

Constitution watchers are also wondering what new powers this new status will have for Quebec. Some observers are suggesting, for example, that when it comes to relations with the United States, Quebec may now have the right to be as equally ignored as Canada.

Meanwhile, Canada's other provinces have been quick to demand their own special status, although being Canada it's been less "demand" and more "put up hand and ask if it isn't too much trouble."

British Columbia - the province with the strongest separatist sentiment after Quebec, though usually too baked to do much about it - was said to be preparing a request to be recognized as a "righteous manifestation of grooviness within Canada."

"We're cool the way the rest of Canada isn't cool," said secessionist leader Roy "Seedman" Zskowski at a press conference from his mom's basement early this week. "It's a known fact, but we need the recognition so that we can put it on our licence plates. That would be totally awesome!"

Ontario was quick to follow, demanding recognition as "the centre of the universe."

"Come on, it's obvious," said premier Dalton McGuinty.

New Brunswick also jumped on the bandwagon. In a hastily prepared manifesto, the Liberal government declared that New Brunswick was "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma all covered in a rich chocolatey coating within Canada."

Alberta's legislature is said to be formulating a proposal whereby all Canadian school children will be taught to list the provinces in alphabetical order rather than geographically from east to west or vice versa. The move is expected to be strongly opposed by Saskatchewan.

Newfoundland premier Danny Williams surprised many (but not his wife; there are no surprises left for her) by stating Monday that "Newfoundland is a large cardboard box within Canada." On Tuesday, however, he told a press conference, "Nah, I'm just messin' witchyas, b'y!"

Not everyone is thrilled with the Harper government's proposition. Early this week, Liberal leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy dismissed the notion, saying "If Quebec is a nation, then I'm a little teapot."

"Hmm," thought Stephen Harper back in Ottawa, "not a bad idea."

And so it was decreed.

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