Sunday, October 22, 2006

Canada

A couple of interesting bits about (or at least around) Canadian national identity in the globe the last couple of days. Most prominently, the Quebec wing of the national Liberal Party has passed a resolution identofying Quebec as a nation. The candidates for the party leadership apparently can't agree on whether or not this is a good thing. Disagreement, I suppose, is natural in this case, as it's difficult to say exactly what's being talked about--the word 'nation' is tremendously elastic. Ignatieff cheerfully endorsed the move, saying that he stood with those who recognise Quebec as their nation and Canada as their country, even supporting writing Quebecois nationhood into the constitution. The rest are a bit more cautious.

Nation, of course, needn't mean state or country. But if it doesn't one needs to know what it does mean.. Who are the members of this nation? Quebecois francophones? What of Anglophones? Immigrants and their descendants? And what on earth does that make English Canada? Does one then recognise Canada as a nation at all?

On balance, Ignatieff's probably right for the most part. Quebecois identity really is tremenbously different from the rest of the country, and this deserves recognition of one sort or another. Might be best done with some care, though.

On another note, a judge in Buffalo, NY has apparently mistaken Canada for a penal colony. He has effectively exiled a former teacher from the area, who has US citizenship, as punishment for sleeping with a 14 year old student. For the next three years, the convicted can return to the US only to visit his parole officer. He's apparently married to a Canadian, and has children north of the border, so there's a certain logic to it all. Still, it's a bit insulting to have one's country treated as a dumping groundfor sex offenders. An odd thing indeed.
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