Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Canadian House of Commons passes QUEBEC NATION motion

Updated Mon. Nov. 27 2006 11:32 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff


The House of Commons has passed a motion that defines the Quebecois as "a united Nation within Canada." The majority of Conservative and Liberal MPs supported the motion, along with the Bloc Quebecois and New Democrats. The vote passed 266 to 16.

Among the MPs who voted against the motion were Liberal leadership candidate Ken Dryden and independent MP Garth Turner. Tory MP Michael Chong had earlier resigned from his post as the intergovernmental affairs minister so he could abstain from voting. Peter Van Loan, a Conservative MP who represents the Ontario riding of York-Simcoe, has taken Chong's place.

"I believe in this great country of ours, and I believe in one nation undivided, called Canada," said Chong in a press conference hours before the vote.

"This is a fundamental principle for me, and not something I can, or will, compromise -- not now, not ever. While I'm loyal to my party and to my leader, my first loyalty is to my country."

The motion is largely seen as a symbolic recognition of the Quebecois nation. But Chong argued it "is nothing else but the recognition of ethnic nationalism, and that is something I cannot support. It cannot be interpreted as the recognition of a territorial nationalism, or it does not refer to the geographic entity, but to a group of people."

CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife said the impact of Chong's resignation could "reverberate across the country."

"You don't want to lose a cabinet minister, particularly the minister in charge of intergovernmental affairs -- the minister who actually deals with the provinces and is responsible for national unity," Fife told CTV's Newsnet.

Independent MP Garth Turner told The Canadian Press that other Tory MPs are upset about the motion as well.

Chong's riding is Wellington-Halton Hills, just west of Toronto and adjacent to Turner's riding of Halton. Turner was kicked out of the Tory caucus earlier this fall.

Harper tabled the Quebec motion in response to the following Bloc motion, to be introduced Thursday: "That this House recognize that Quebeckers form a nation."

Liberal leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff voted in favour of Harper's motion on Monday -- a move met with loud applause in the House.

Gerard Kennedy, another leadership candidate, has said he motion is divisive to national unity and could advance the separatist agenda.

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