Don't break up Canada

La nation québécoise vue du Canada

Opinion - Is Quebec a nation? It's a fascinating question. It's also a recipe for the breakup of Canada. Not a particularly difficult recipe either.
Take a bunch of power-hungry Liberals. Add a pompous intellectual snob who is out of touch et voilà - Canada's goose is cooked.
Liberal leadership hopeful Michael Ignatieff dredged up the dreaded nation question to show he was sensitive to the aspirations of Quebec.
The man is not sensitive. He is naïve.
His defenders insist this nation notion meets with the approval of everyone from Quebec Premier Jean Charest to former Quebec premier Bernard Landry. Our premiers just seem to love the idea.
Ask another former Quebec premier about it. Jacques Parizeau once told Barbara Frum that having the distinct society in the Constitution would allow him to take Quebec out of Canada using the front door.
Imagine what a popular André Boisclair could do and would do with the word nation.
Our constitution is not merely a series of Valentine's Day cards - the words in it have meaning.
Will such recognition give Quebec more power or not?
If it does, it will be met with outrage by the long-suffering taxpayers of Ontario who might get wind of the fact that they have had to slash their own social programs so that they can send equalization payments to Quebec, allowing it to maintain preposterously low university tuition and $7 a day daycare.
If such recognition does not mean any more power, it will be seen as yet another humiliation.
The dance has already started. If the Liberals refuse to pass the resolution or water it down at their convention later this month, all hell will break loose.
Liberal stalwarts like Liza Frulla and Jean Lapierre have already sounded the alarm that a refusal to recognize Quebec as a nation would be a disaster for federalism.
It does not take much to get Lapierre going.
When Meech Lake was rejected in 1990, Lapierre was humiliated enough to leave the Liberal Party to co-found the Bloc Québécois with Lucien Bouchard.
Who knows what he might do this time?
Leave it to the Liberals. They have already raised expectations and are getting set to write a cheque that the rest of Canada is simply not prepared to cash.
If Quebec is a nation, where are its borders? Are French-Canadians who live in Ottawa part of the Quebec nation or part of the Canadian nation?
There are one million people in Quebec who are not French-Canadian. And there are a million French-Canadians outside Quebec. What nation will they be part of?
Who will decide for you if you are a member of the Canadian nation or Quebec nation?
Despite the mythology promoted by the separatists, the Fathers of Confederation did not base their discussions on two founding nations.
They came together to create a new political nation.
That's what Canada is today. A great country built by English-Canadians, French-Canadians, new Canadians and native peoples.
Their efforts over the years have created a truly magnificent country that is the envy of the world.
It would be a tragedy if this country fell apart.
It would be an even greater tragedy if it broke up thanks to the inexperience of a university professor who thought so little of Canada that he didn't even bother to live here for the past 30 years.
Tommy Schnurmacher Show is heard weekdays nine a.m. to noon on CJAD 800 Radio. His e-mail address is

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