Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tell me Steve, who's a Quebecois?

No, this is not a Monty Python sketch, but it could be:

In an interview with the Canadian Press, Harper, who introduced a motion in the Commons last month recognizing the Québécois as a nation within Canada, said there is no exact definition, so it's up to an individual to decide whether they are Québécois.

"I think you identify yourself. It's an identity, not a legal definition," the prime minister said.

"Being a Canadian carries a legal definition — you're a citizen or you're not.

"But the idea of a Quebec nation is strictly a matter of identity and you can't define it for everyone."

He said the concept implies ties to the French language and the territory of Quebec.

"Obviously, this idea is linked to the French language. For that reason, if you're speaking of a Québécois nation you're speaking of French," he said.

"You're speaking of the Québécois, not Quebecers."

When asked whether anglophone Quebecers are part of the Québécois nation, Harper said: "I think some anglophones and some ethnic groups identify with the Québécois nation. Maybe some don't," he said.

"I don't think it's possible to put precise terms to it."

If the main criterion is an attachment to the French language, Harper was asked, does that mean all French-Canadians — even those outside Quebec — belong to the Québécois nation?

"I'm not sure," Harper said, speaking in French.

"As I said, I think it's an identity. Those who share that identity belong to that identity. Those who don't share it aren't part of it."

Are we all clear on that now? Good.

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