Is Canada a nation?

COYNE: Ignatieff has no doubt Quebec is a nation. But is Canada? And if so, are Quebecers part of it?

I know he’s said it many times before, and I know it’s the kind of thing that people say without blinking these days, and believe me I don’t expect anything better from any of the other leaders, but this is nevertheless an astonishing thing for anyone seeking to lead the country to say:

I know that the great majority of Quebecers consider that Quebec is their nation, and Canada is their country. I was the first to recognize that. I believe that one can be a Quebecer or a Canadian in the order that one desires.

Or at least it should be astonishing. I suppose I’d say I was astonished more people aren’t astonished, but I’m not even astonished by that any more.

The issue here isn’t whether Quebec is a nation: that’s a debate for another time. The issue is whether Canada is. In Ignatieff’s formulation, it’s just a country, at least to the “great majority of Quebecers.” Quebec is a nation, of that he has no doubt: but is Canada? And if so, are Quebecers part of it?

And whatever Canada is, the putative Prime Minister of Canada is quite content that it should take second place: that people’s first loyalty should be, not to the nation — whoops, country — he seeks to lead, but to something else. This at least has the virtue of clarity: another politician might utter the fatuity that you can have equal loyalty to two different things, because after all the two will never conflict.

But if they do? If there’s an issue that, God forbid, should ask people to put Canada’s interests, the interests of the whole nation/country, first? No, a Prime Minister Ignatieff would be content that Canada should, always, finish second. Presumably he is no less complaisant with other parts of the country putting their own selfish, narrow and particular interests ahead of the rest.

A nation — hell, even a country — cannot function that way. The whole point is that we make certain sacrifices for each other: that we compromise, at least some of the time, in the interest of the greater good. The only way people will do that is if they are willing to put Canada, on occasion, first. And the job of a Prime Minister of Canada, you would think, is to ask them — no, not ask: implore, urge, demand — to do that.

“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Can you imagine any Prime Minister of Canada saying that? And is that to our credit? Or does it help to explain why we’ve spent the last 50 years teetering on the edge of destruction, making regular ransom payments to avert it?

So I think it would be appropriate to ask Ignatieff, and all the other leaders: Is Canada a nation? If so, are Quebecers part of it? And is it conceivable that anyone in Canada might ever have to put Canada first?

CODA: Never mind JFK. Try another thought experiment. The House of Commons famously passed a resolution declaring “the Québécois” to be a nation. Can you imagine the same House passing a resolution declaring Canada, or Canadians, to be a nation? Go ahead, try…




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Is Canada a nation?

  1. Finally, someone with balls.

    • Incorrect.

      • What, do you know something the rest of us don't?

    • Yes Andrew Coyne does tend to speak his mind and he has done well!!

  2. I caught that in his ad too, and my reaction was honestly, meh. If we were living in 1988, I'd probably be outraged. But if the price of keeping sovereignty support suppressed is a few pat semantic compromises about subtle words few voters really understand anyway, that's a price I'm prepared to pay.

    And on that note, a debate I'd love to see: if the Bloc's presence is to evil to Conservatives and Liberals alike, I'd like someone to set up a debate on Maclean's with official party spokespersons with the following question: "What will your party do to destroy the Bloc and free Parliament from the spectre of Separatism if elected to government?"

    For example, the best argument I've heard to get rid of the per-vote subsidy is what it would do to the Bloc. As part of a package of "finish the sovereignty debate once and for all" measures, I'd actually support that. On its own, not as much.

    • Starving them, throwing money at Quebec blindly, or simply sitting there throwing tantrums that they exist isn't going to make the Bloc go away. If you want to truly "finish the Bloc", you need merely convince Quebecers that their interests will be heard and respected without them.

      The catch is doing so while reminding them that their interests must be weighed against those of the other provinces and sometimes we're going to have to meet in the middle or agree to disagree.

      • Yes. The premise at the core of the Bloc's appeal to Quebecers is "We can't trust them!" Change the debate, get "us" and "them" out of the picture, and the Bloc is finished.

    • I suspect that any initiative that could be perceived or interpreted within Quebec as an attempt to strangle the BQ would have the unintended consequence of arousing old animosities in that province that have been muted for several years now.

      As I've said elsewhere on these boards, current polling suggests that separatism sentiments are at a low ebb in Quebec. That tells me that the BQ's overwhelming popularity springs not from desire to separate but from dissatisfaction with other federal options in that province, not unlike the popular discontent that spawned the Reform Party in the west.

    • Per-vote subsidy is a good start because it will weaken them, they get less support, less representation in Parliament, it's a good beginning.

      That been said, I love to see a leader who won't put of with their blackmail and endless needs, we are equal.

      To truly be a united Canada the BQ has to go. No more concessions.

      • Per-vote subsidy is a good start because it will weaken them

        No, it will strengthen them. They will very quickly establish such a move as an attack on Quebec interests and the "voters will" and find themselves in possession of more seats.

        Really, people need to stop acting like jilted lovers at divorce court over this and start thinking in other directions.

        • You are so wrong and I strongly disagree!

          • Not at all. They are the only party that doesn't have to fly from Vancouver to New Brunswick every year. their messages also get to be simpler and more direct because they don't care what 90% of Canadians think (Harper only has to not care what 60% of Canadians think!) They get more, but they need the least.

            If you really really care about keeping Canada together no matter what, petition your candidate harper to bring forth a constitutional amendment proposal to make it illegal for a province to separate from Canada, rather than tinkering with funding formula you think might give you an advantage under current circumstnaces.

          • I accept your disagreement, but I'm not wrong.

            Here's what happens when the per-vote subsidy goes, presumably from Conservative initiative: within 24 hours the Bloc strips quotes from every Conservative candidate, pundit, or think tank that's talked about how this will "destroy the Bloc" – it''s not like these will be in short supply – and begins cycling them through their donation list asking for $5. There's ~6m voters in Quebec, the BQ's EC hard cap for expenses is ~$5m, and they spent just under that last time, so they need 20% of their potential voters to meet that obligation and their next election is covered. Now, consider that the BQ takes ~40% of the Quebec vote as is and every penny that's either asked or donated above that $5 line decreases the prior number.

            I hate to break it to you, but they'll be able to cover expenses if they're even remotely competent. Then, they're going to hammer on that: "They tried to kill us" 'till the stone gives blood. Federalism will never be able to live it down.

          • Let's face it…the Bloc is simply a means to extort money from the federal government and the rest of Canada.

            They will continue to serve that function whether they are supported by Canadian's tax dollars…or donations from Quebec soverignists.

            Let them pay for their own party. Your point is essentially…"let's keep giving them money so they don't ask for even more!"

          • Agreed!

      • The per-vote subsidy not only will not destroy the Bloc, it will enrage it. BUT, the best part of the per-vote subsidy is how it provides a voice for those too poor to think about donating to the party of their choice. No party will prioritise the needs of those less fortunate if the votes of the less fortunate doesn't provide a benefit to them in any way. If someone can think of an alternative way to give the poor a voice in a party's policy decision making – then by all means eliminate the subsidy.

        • You still haven't conviced me, they will be enraged no matter what.

          A lot of people status qou as BQ is because of the goodies they receive from the federal government, once that stops they won't have a problem changing parties, they will get over the enragment!

  3. Canada is a nation.

    Quebec is part of it.

    Soldiers fight on behalf of Canada.

    Seems pretty simple Andrew.

    Move on.

    • Come on, Bill. Andrew wants our leaders, not "anonymous-internet-guy" to say it. This is not unreasonable.

      • No he doesn't. He wants to write an article and needs to find a handy hook that'll bring in viewers. Never mind that nationalism was 'kitsch" before.. now it's something that must be upheld..

        ..at least until the next article deadline comes around.

  4. You will see how much of a nation it is if your little coalition takes over…

    • … then we'll see, my pretty.

  5. Andrew, Andrew, Andrew, it just shows that you don't understand anything.

    I didn't see the speech but I would imagine that Mr. ignatieff said that in French (or at least said in French first and then repeated it in English).

    It all goes to the different definitions of words in different languages. In French the word "nation" has the original 19th century meaning of an entity connected by culture, language, etc. (blood and belonging if you will). meanwhile in English the word "nation" has evolved to be a synonym for "country".

    So to say, en français"/ that Québec forms "une nation" and that Canada is their country would be accurate to an extent.

    The best formulation of this is from Jean Lesage who said "Le Canada est mon pays. Le Québec est ma patrie. Qui demande de mieux?"

    "Roughly translated, "Canada is my country. Québec is my homeland. WHo could ask for anything better."

    Andrew, you need to improve your French.

    • I don't think you need to be able to parse french with a fine tooth comb to get to the point of what Iggy was saying. The question is which is a priority: "country", "homeland", "nation", "province", or whatever. Iggy wants to lead a federalist government in Canada and he's out there suggesting that it's alright if Canada plays second fiddle to Quebec. The ambition and the statement do not jive.

    • "Canada is my country. Québec is my homeland. WHo could ask for anything better."

      Pop in "Newfoundland" in place of "Québec" and I'll show you another "nation" that would understand that statement completely. There are probably others; I'll let them speak for themselves.

      The sentiment that Ignatieff expressed is no different that the one put forth in Parliament by Harper, and passed by all parties, recognizing Québec as a nation within Canada. My only problem with that motion – then and now – is that there are others equally worthy of such recognition (my beloved NL, for example) who were effectively snubbed by the failure of Parliament to make a similar gesture of recognition.

    • I am a Québécois. Us Québécois never doubt we are a nation while you ROC, are perpetually asking this question about yourself. That's why we want to separate, we just are a different nation with different ideologies (in general, of course, but with a big majority). I don't understand why all the Canadians want the Québec to stay within the country… we are just making you troubles, seriously.
      Another thing, trying to suppress the Bloc will just making us more voting for it considering the fact that that party has precisely this goal: defend Québec's rights, including the right to vote for whoever we want.
      Also, taking off the right to separate from you is just absurd and disrespectful for our nation. If ever something like that happens, I only will be joyfull because I'll know at that precise moment that the separation of Québec would definitively happen (making us feeling victims, so provocating rebellion).

      To answer the question: is Canada a nation, I'd answer yes, but without Québecois. Seriously, throw us out, that's all you and us are asking.

  6. I find it laughable that we would question whether Ignatieff thinks of Canada as a nation. Duceppes may not, and I have some questions about Harper's feeling due to the infamous Firewall letter, but Ignatieff and Layton have been pretty clear, even eloquent, in past statements and writings.

    More to the point though, if you were to ask Albertans or Newfoundlanders whether they put the country or their province first, what do you think the answer would be, Andrew? I suspect there would be a fair number who put their province first, based on things I've read and heard.

    • Also, in the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that I'm a member of the Tractor Nation.

    • "Presumably he is no less complaisant with other parts of the country putting their own selfish, narrow and particular interests ahead of the rest…The whole point is that we make certain sacrifices for each other…in the interest of the greater good"

      Coyne acknowledges that some may put their province first but states that such a view is wrong morally.

  7. Are you concerned that people put their god before their country? Because they often will, and they do sometimes conflict.

    Anyhow, your concerns are so '90's. Loyalty? What does that even mean to a Canadian on a day-to-day basis?

  8. Interesting question as to whether Canada is a nation, which when used to distinquish the word from country typically means a tightly knit group sharing a common culture. Are we?

    I know Harper literally makes me feel I am not part of whatever nation Harper thinks he leads (HARPER/CANADA according to his slogans). He routinely distinguishes the MPs I think are representing my interests from what he deems to be Canadians. I find Harper very divisive.

    Harper makes me sad and sometimes ashamed and I know he would not consider me a true Canadian, eligible for public service, having lived and worked outside Canada for many years. So, are we a nation, when we accept this man as our leader, let him get away with dividing us, and he makes us feel like this?

    • There are many of a conservative bent who have been made to feel "unCanadian" by Liberal politicians. The Cons are not the only guilty party in that regard.

      Something that always makes it hard for me to be proud to be Canadian is that seems that Canadian identity is wrapped up so much in politics. You're Canadian if you like this party and have these political beliefs. You're not Canadian if you don't. That's how it feels. But I don't think that one's pride in their country should ebb and flow based on whether or not "your guy" is the one in power is not. There are limits to this of course, but I don't think we're at that point, despite the numerous failures of the current leadership.

    • Then move elsewhere! Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!

  9. Andrew, I've been involved in various federations in the past. In some, the regional organizations are of minor importance when compared to the national organization, which held incredible power; for others, the real strength was in provincial organizations whereas the national 'federation' body was quite weak.

    Canada is a federation, and while you may be taken aback that someone would deem that their provincial government is of equal or greater weight than their national government, I see it as completely dependent on just how a person believes the one body to recognize their interests over the other. Denying that reality will simply result in no support from that group. Iggy desperately needs Quebec's support.

  10. Though you say that "I know it's the kind of thing that people say without blinking these days" – I think that is probably less true of Ignatieff when he speaks about these things. As you allude to, he has written multiple books on the idea of nationalism and he has spent a good chunk of his adult life thinking and writing about these issues. It would be frankly quite interesting to ask him whether he thinks Canada is a nation, how he justifies these assertions, and what he thinks about mixed loyalties. It would be interesting because he likely has a well though-out response. Of course whether he would be willing to engage in a meaningful way with this issue in a campaign when his every word can be twisted for the purposes of an ad or a scandal is another thing. But it would be interesting.

  11. If this is an issue, and I’m not convinced it is, I would be far more worried about the western “nation” (in the french sense of the word) who have suggested the east could “freeze in the dark” when things don’t go their way. Where is the national (in the country sense) unity in that?

    • The "freeze in the dark" remark (by Peter Lougheed, if memory serves) was in response to long standing successful efforts by central Canada to impoverish the west to the benefit of Ontario and Quebec. Look up the Crow rate (prejudicial freight rates) and Trudeau's National Energy Policy before you classify the west as selfish. Central Canada kept westerners shut out of both power and money for generations.

      • It was Klein when he was mayor of Calgary. It was a stupid remark then; it's a stupid remark today.

  12. II often wonder whether it's proper to refer to myself as a Canadian Jew or a Jewish Canadian. It is two different identities and I think I ultimately put Canadian first (which actually makes me a Jewish Canadian), but I know there are many people (of many beliefs) who put religion first. I don't qestion their loyalty to the country as a result – I think that it means they want the country to comply with certain beliefs (multiculturalism being the one that many can agree on without conflict). Similarly, is it wrong to suggest that Canada can have multi-nationalism? I know I don't like the idea, but I'm not completely decided yet on whether I am outright opposed to it.

  13. For what it is worth, I've had many Albertans tell me they are Albertan before they are Canadian.

    • I have lived here or my life, I have never ever heard that.

      • I spent 15 years or so in AB. People say it occasionally, but i don't think many of them mean it. AB's are proud Canadians too!

  14. What happened Mr Coyne?
    According to the comments in "Harper's Hypocrisy Problem," you're nothing but a two bit Liberal shill

    • Have you looked for the content in Harper's speeches? My guess is Mr. Coyne tried and failed. Hence the focus on what Ignatieff says. Which is fine. Negative, positive, whatever, at least there is something there to focus on.

  15. HARPERS American Dream REGIME
    Un presidented deficiets at 56 billion
    Un presidented dept at 500 billion
    Un presidented Contempt for democracy
    Un presidented financial, criminal and sleazy scandals

    ON MAY 2

    UN PRESIDENT HARPER!

  16. This is a good observation, Andrew, but I think it’s consistent with his views re: ‘civic nationalism’.

    From what I understand/remember, he essentially draws a distinction between the state (as a space of common laws, values, institutions, system of governance) and national identity (or, maybe a little more accurately, the ‘things’ we ground our identifications in—ethnicity, history, culture, etc.)

    So, for Ignatieff to say this does not seem contradictory at all. I also think that your conflation of the ‘nation’ with loyalty and the ‘country’ (or ‘state’) with something totally ambivalent to loyalty is something he would disagree with and which I, personally, don’t believe is true since, as you say, one can be loyal to two (or more) things.

    In any event, I don’t necessarily subscribe to his opinions on this, though I can see plenty of merit to it, and I also think his views on the topic are not as simplistic as you seem to suggest here.

  17. Yes, if there wasn’t an election on with Harper’s tactics at play, this could be an extremely interesting discussion to have, given Ignatieff’s deep interest in exactly these issues. I think one theme in his writings on nationalism is the need to listen, understand and work across the typical lines that cause divisions and disagreements. I don’t see anything in contradiction with his words and a commitment to a strong, united Canada. However, given we have Harper on the loose right now, I would be aghast if Ignatieff entered into a serious discussion of these issues now.

    • Well sure, Ignatieff has many deep interests in democracy. Let the voice of a separate party speak louder than the voice of Canada,

      oh, and when becoming party leader, do so by coronation, real democratic and all.

      You, Mr.Ignatieff, had a choice: you chose to be appointed party leader. I love your style of democracy. Taking the leadership by appointment and pretty soon taking the government of Canada by appointment with the vote from the BQ and the NDP. Long live the professor's kind of democracy!

  18. It appears Mr. Coyne has been paying insufficient attention to the last twenty-five years, during which time Canada's government, media, and corporate elites have been busily dismantling the historically unique institutions of Canadian nationhood and replacing them with generic continental ones.

    Are we a nation? Gosh. Let me see. Would a real nation elevate to federal leadership a man who once gleefully bashed his own country in the most odious terms to a laughing gaggle of foreigners? Would a real nation allow its armed forces to be operationally swallowed by those of a foreign power and placed under perpetual foreign command and control? Would a real nation tolerate watching control of its borders be signed away by its prime minister, without the slightest Parliamentary debate, in a private meeting with a foreign head of state?

    Canada is arguably the only country that actively discourages patriotism and where “conservatism” usually implies passionate anti-nationalism. Patriotism, an absolute necessity for an aspiring American politician, is politically toxic here, where nationalists are reflexively derided as either Stalinist autarkists or 19th-century throwbacks. Ask David Orchard what it's like to put country first, to base a political appeal on sacrifice and the fundamental importance of the national community. Or, better, ask Mr. Coyne to reiterate his own assessment of Orchard: what was the modish phrase bandied about after the 2003 Orchard/MacKay pact? Ah, yes: the “deal with the devil”. Charming. Coyne's bitter excoriation of nationalist Red Toryism, written some years ago, makes for fascinating reading as well. Nationalism is there described as “kitsch”, I believe.

    The fact is that the iron-clad elite continentalist consensus that has developed over the last quarter-century and that clever, articulate agenda-setters like Mr. Coyne have used to flog less rhetorically resourceful and socially privileged dissenters from the heights of their bully pulpits has made the effective political expression of national community almost impossible. I doubt we shall ever again see a prime minister (or Opposition leader) defined by the uncomplicated Canadianism that animated our Diefenbakers, Stanfields, and Trudeaus. The cultural prerequisites have disappeared.

    • Amen, Sir Francis!

      And Harper expects us to not remember 2004 coalition shenanigans! Silly beggar. My national consciousness and I go way back. ;0)

      • I agree with virtually everything Mr. Coyne said, but what I'm reading here seems very much like buyer's remorse.

        Eric Kierans and Dalton Camp felt similarly after their continentalist careers. It was too late for them, alas, and it's too late for Mr. Coyne. I fear it's too late for us all. To be sure, a new nationalism could emerge, like that of the early Seventies, but it would not run for long before being shredded by the lacerating ridicule of Mr. Coyne and Co. And who wants to feel like an antagonist of the eloquent, the powerful, and the influential?

    • But that's not fair.. he's a journalist. He can't be expected to be consistent on issues when there's an article at stake. He gets paid for writing this stuff, after all. He has to come up with something.

    • I would never call Trudeau "uncomplicated". Do you not remember the "egg train" tour of Canada, in which Trudeau posed his "fuddle duddle" gesture as the train was pelted with raw eggs wherever it stopped? Trudeau rewrote the constitutional fabric of Canada without the consent of the citizenry.

    • Sir Francis: arguably the most eloquent comment I have read on a message board in years.

      I wish you were writing Maclean's columns in place of Coyne.

  19. The only way people will do that is if they are willing to put Canada, on occasion, first. And the job of a Prime Minister of Canada, you would think, is to ask them — no, not ask: implore, urge, demand — to do that.

    *cough* dual citizenship *cough*

      • Oh, I do. At least I am pretty sure I do. And I share them.

        I just see more than a wee parallel in the fractured loyalties department. If we are going to get all Canadianer-than-thou with Quebecers, maybe we should FIRST focus on the Canadians of Convenience living permanently in Beirut with expectations of entitlement that Mommy Maple Leaf will come extract them whenever the shooting starts. THEN we can focus on Canadians here who have retained citizenship (and loyalties) with territory nowhere near this country. THEN I feel we might be in a logically consistent position to ask our concitoyens québécois et nos concitoyennes québécoises — no, not ask: implore, urge, demand — that they put Canada, on occasion, first.

  20. The issue isn't that people who live in the provinces (QC or the others) see that is being more important than being Canadian to their everyday lives, it is that Ontarians (uniquely?) in the federation have a negligible provincial culture and cannot see what the fuss is about having one.

    • That's arguably because Ontario is so big and varied though. The realities of Toronto or Ottawa are pretty far removed from Thunder Bay or Ft Francis.

    • Not true. Ontario has a history and culture that started before Confederation and continues yet.

  21. "No, a Prime Minister Ignatieff would be content that Canada should, always, finish second."

    What a perverse inversion of reality. Mr. Harper has spent his entire adult life advocating provincialism (nationalism if you're a Quebecer) before the interests of Canada as a whole. From building a "firewall" around Alberta to refusing to hold even a single meeting of national leaders during his five years in government, the suggestion that it is Mr. Ignatieff rather than Mr. Harper who belittles the broader interests of Canada would be laughable if it came from a party hack. It's nauseating and a bit disturbing coming from a national columnist.

    Mr. Ignatieff has repeatedly called for national leadership on education, innovation, infrastructure and family and elder care. While I often disagree with the specific policies proposed, it's patently absurd to suggest — strike that — to accuse Mr. Ignatieff of stoking provincialism when it has been Mr. Harper's dominant ideology since the 1990s. Moreover, why the fixation on Quebec, Mr. Coyne, when petrodollar regimes in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador have exhibited as much or more animosity towards the Rest of Canada than has Quebec?

    • One day we'll have a centralist option on the ballot. One day.

      –sigh–

  22. No no no Mr. Coyne. He said many Quebecers think of Canada as their "country". That says nothing about whether Canada is also a nation.

    He said Quebecers are free to feel either Québécois or Canadain in the order they prefer. He did not say they HAD to choose.

    Your problem is that you abosoluetely want to force Quebecers to choose EITHER Quebec or Canada as their object of primary loyalty. Why would you want to force this? Better to leave plenty of flexibility to accomodate the compexity of people's identities.

    Yes, presumably there might be some hypotehetical situations where one had to prioritize one over the other, and presumably a prime Mininister Ignatieff would privilige Canada first, but why go there if it is not necessary? I know the ambiguity drives your Cartesian mind bonkers but it's one of the keys to why Canada first came into being and why it's held together this long. Embrace the contradictions Mr. Coyne.

    • Because making things black and white gets more hits.

  23. And yes Canada is a nation but its very complex one that contains within-it sub-state nations like the Québéois, Newfoundland, the First Nations…

    At the heart of the Canadian nation is the "English-Canadain" nation which is so invisible that barely anyone knows it exists but it IS there. It's who Stephen Harper is talking about when he talks about "us" and when he refers to Quebec separatists as being outside the Canadian nation. It is a nation that does not speak its name. Kind of like the Castillians in Spain. It's ethnic core is the British, Scottish, Irish and Loyalist setllers who came here after the French. It disguises its nation status because it has larger ambitions than the Quebec nation. It wishes to encompass ALL the people living within Canada's borders . It does not wish to be seen as just one nation among the others I have mentioned above. It wishes to be a kind of supra-nation that encompasses all these others.

    I happen to identify with this nation and feel affection for it but don't be surprised if many Québécois have more ambiguous feelings about it.

  24. Sorry for all the typos, particularly when I spell "Canadian". Keyboard dyslexia :P

  25. Oddly enough, it barely registered with the national media when Gilles Duceppe went to St. John's last year and stated that Newfoundland had been a nation, but somehow upon joining Canada, it no longer was.

  26. Hello Andrew,

    My understanding is that the Parliament of Canada pass a resolution not long time ago saying that the Quebecois are a nation on a united Canada. Did I miss something or that did not happened? And, was not the Harper's Conservatives that passed such resolution?

  27. Why should anyone necessarily have loyalty to a country or nation just because they were born there? Shouldn't that loyalty be earned, not assumed?

    Why should *any* Canadian be loyal to Canada?

    • Because it is a requirement of citizenship.

  28. I believe it was stephan dion who said Canada is a country that works in practice but not in theory.

    One can write all the articles one wants, claiming whatever one wishes as basic and inalienable. Yet 140 odd years after confederation, we plod along in our existence, with nobody perhaps thrilled but with only the fringe truly unsatisfied.

  29. Well, pretty soon we'll make history, again. A liberal leader who has lived in Britain and US of A for 30 years, has been brought back by the Liberal elites by lack of better choices and coronated at the earliest opportunity, and soon to be installed as the coalition King.

    Long live Canadian democracy.

    OH, and did you know that the corporate tax cut has been cancelled by the Liberals so that the Liberal party stand already lines up with NDP stand well ahead in time for forming the coalition. Coincidence? Of course not.

    • Incidentally, even if everything you've said was true, it still wouldn't affect Canadian democracy. Certainly not the way Harper has been attacking it!

    • I would be really interested to see what the results of absentee ballots for Canadian expats are for this election.

      I hope every single Canadian living abroad casts their ballot and does not vote for the Conservatives, because Harper’s line of attack on Ignatieff pretty much relegates Canadians who go abroad to second class citizens.

      This line of attack is so parachial and narrow minded. God forbid a Canadian leave the country to work, but come back to represent the nation – apparently we only allow hockey players to do that.

  30. "If you don't believe that your country comes before yourself, you can better serve your country by living somewhere else" – Stompin' Tom Connors

    Almost written directly from Stompin' Tom to Michael Ignatiff.

  31. Seperatists, coalitions, taxes…

    Doesn't anyone realize the government has been heild in contempt of parliament?? Why is all this other garbage news right now?

    • Because on the contempt issue you and your Liberal friends are full of CRAP!

      • Its in the news because it matters to the majority of Canadians.

    • Yeah, Coyne was definitely off on a tangent when he wrote this one. "On the crazy bus" is the term I think he prefers.

  32. Canada = nation
    Canada = country

    Québec = nation that is part of Canadian nation
    Acadia = nation that is part of Canadian nation
    First nations = nations that are part of Canadian nation
    Newfoundland = (arguably) nation that is part of Canadian nation
    All provinces minus Québec = not a nation

  33. I’ve been living out of CANADA for the last 20 years. And hell, yeah, Canada is my country.
    I would never consider the United States my country even though I’ve been here for so long.
    And being born in Montreal, well, Quebec is a culture not a nation.

  34. Canada was a nation, before that GD Trudeau F'ed it all up!

  35. Canada is actually a joke as long as the rule of law does not apply.

    Now this Bob Livingstone guy sounds like quite the lawyer, doesn't he?

    http://betshort.com

    We need Canadians who respect the law, and they appear to be too few and far between.

  36. What Igantieff's quote does bring to mind is his stunning arrogance.

    The man says "I" more times than an opthalmologist.

    It certainly doesn't do him any favours when he's trying to rid himself of the ivory tower snob tag.

  37. Geez, you'd think a guy who's spent years writing political polemics would at least have an understanding of the poli sci definitions of 'country' and 'nation', French translations notwithstanding. This is gone over ad nauseum in most Poli Sci 101s — nations are a PEOPLE with defined language, history, culture, countries are geographic areas delineated by borders, and states are the institutions that govern countries with the legitimate use of force. Ignatieff is entirely correct to differentiate between the two, as was Mr Harper in 2006.

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