Saturday, December 09, 2006

Same-Sex Marriage, Quebec as a Nation and Other Methods of Beating a Dead Horse

Just a week or so ago, I posted a blog about how amazed I was that the Liberal Party of Canada made the right decision in choosing Mr. Dion as their new leader. But now, here I am both shocked and in awe at how the majority of the Liberal Party, the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois and even a handful of Conservatives made the right decision this week when it comes to voting on Same Sex Marriage.

I'm not going to waste your time by going on and on about Same Sex Marriage, the debate is played out and already closed. We won. To be totally honest, when this debate first started cropping up back in 2001, my naive apolitical 18 year old self, was rather confused. I was amazed that, Canada, one of the most developed and "advanced" nations on the planet could be so bias to forbid homosexuals from getting married. I was simply dumbfounded then, just as I am dumbfounded now that this debate keeps cropping up all over the world. I did a quick Wikipedia search and discovered that Canada is one of only five countries in the world (along with The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and South Africa) to grant Same-Sex Marriages. Granted many others have civil union, but that is simply not the same. It is 2006, we should be trying to increase the rights of the individuals and not restrict them. The government has no right to tell people who they are, and aren't allowed to be in love with.

On a completely different, but oddly connected note, I would like to add my thoughts on the recent notion of Quebec as a Nation. While this debate, and motion were going on, I was at my Dad's place and therefore disconnected from the modern world. I know that the country seems to be divided by this idea, but you know what, I like it. It may not be the smart thing to do, but it sure was the right thing to do.

Why you ask? Because Quebec is different than the rest of the country. I mean that in the most endearing of ways. I love Quebec, it just feels so much more alive and exotic than anywhere I have been to in English Canada. There is a vastly different culture going on within La Belle Province, that is not happening anywhere else in this country.

The most obvious of this is language, but it is much deeper than that. The predominant religion is Catholicism, while it is various branches of Protestantism in the rest of the country. Many of you may be thinking that dividing along religious lines is a thing of the past, and you may just be right, but the be deep seeded values that come along with the religion are still everywhere in our culture. I mean, look at the same sex marriage debate, you tell me the opponents of that were not based on religion? Even if it was disguised in political terms, there was still heavy religious undertones taking place.

Also, there is a much stronger sense of pride in being Quebecois than there is in being a Canadian. I do not just mean this in Quebec, I mean it all over the entire country. Canadian Nationalism is something that only seems to exist to sell beer and hockey tickets, while Quebec Nationalism (yes I am using that word) means so much more than that. St. Jean Baptiste Day is a holiday in Quebec, but not any where else, does that make it a Quebecois National Holiday? Why I think so...

I think that there are two main reasons people oppose this idea. The first is that they do not know enough, and the second is that they know too much.

What people need to learn and understand is that a Nation and a Country (or Sovereign State) are not the same thing at all. Dictionary.com gives the following definition of a Nation: an aggregation of persons of the same ethnic family, often speaking the same language or cognate languages. While a Sovereign State (the proper term for a country such as Canada, but often not used in modern terms due to the existence of The United States - a collection of States all submitting their sovereignty to one central state...confused yet?) is defined as: Independent of, and unlimited by, any other; possessing, or entitled to, original authority or jurisdiction; as, a sovereign state; a sovereign discretion. Do you see how these two things are different? A nation is a be all and end all term for an ethnic group, while a Sovereign State is an independent governing body. What is really confusing is that many Sovereign States are drawn up along national lines, especially in Europe. However, Canada is not one of those places. We are drawn up more along political lines than on national lines.

Perhaps to better put it into context, we can look at our good friends and mother-nation, Britain. Now, how many of you out there have Scottish, Welsh or English heritage in you? Would you dare call them the same? Well in terms of a Sovereign State, they are all part of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Yet in national terms they are distinctly different. Don't believe me? Try watching England play Scotland in football or rugby and tell me or more importantly, any of their fans, that they are one and the same.

The other reason people don't like this notion, is because they are thinking of the difficult constitutional questions this asks. Since, I suppose we no longer have 10 provinces and 3 territories, but rather we now have 9 provinces, 3 territories and a Nation. How is this going to be different now? Will Quebec be given more rights within Government? What about Aboriginals, or even Newfoundlanders, should their distinct Nations be recognized as well? The easy answer: It shouldn't be, no, and sure why not. But unfortunately, I don't make all of the important decisions in this country, so we are going to have to see how it turns out.

To be honest, I don't really know how it will all work out, and I do defiantly see a number of tough constitutional questions getting asked, with no easy answers coming. But this brings me back to what I originally said on this issue, the government did not necessarily do the smart thing, but I'll be damned, they did the right thing.

So I have yammered about Gays and the French long enough, how do these two things connect? Simple actually, in both cases the Government did the right thing. They realized that the people of this country do not owe them anything. Homosexuals do not owe Canada and they sure do not owe the churches anything at all. Quebec has a long history of getting oppressed and marginalized by English Canada, that still very much goes on to this day, so what do they owe the central government?

In both cases, the government realized something very important. The individual owes nothing to the institution, but rather it is the institution that owes everything, including its very existence to the individuals.

It's about time they start paying them back.

Until next time,

G

1 comment:

McNutt said...

"I know the word, it means nation, and KA-NA-DA is it's name."

End. Of. Story.