STATEMENT BY MINISTER MICHAEL CHONG
27 November 2006
The reason why I became involved in politics is my belief in this nation we call Canada. I believe in this great country of ours, and I believe in one nation, undivided, called Canada. This is a fundamental principle for me, not something on which I can, or will, compromise. Not now, not ever. While I am loyal to my party and to my leader, my first loyalty to this nation we call Canada.
It is for that fundamental principle that I cannot support the motion recognizing the Quebecois as a nation
Pour moi, reconnaître les Québécois comme une nation, même à l’intérieur d’un Canada uni, implique la reconnaissance d’un nationalisme ethnique que je ne peux appuyer. Une telle reconnaissance ne peut être interprétée comme impliquant un nationalisme territorial parce qu’elle ne se réfère pas à une entité géographique mais plutôt à un groupe de personnes.
I believe that recognizing the Quebecois as a nation, even within a united Canada, is nothing else than the recognition of an ethnic nationalism, and that I cannot support. It cannot be interpreted as the recognition of a territorial nationalism, since it does not refer to a geographic entity, but rather to a group of people.
I also believe that recognizing the Quebecois as a nation will provide the sovereignists with an argument that they will use to confuse Quebeckers in any future debate on sovereignty. They will argue if the Quebecois are a nation within Canada, the Quebecois are certainly a nation without Canada.
I believe in one nation undivided called Canada, based on a civic and not an ethnic nationalism. For hundreds of years, almost every Canadian was of either British or French descent and we had two ethnic nationalisms reflective of that, one a British ethnic nationalism, the other a French ethnic nationalism. By the 1960s, Canada was no longer homogenously made up of those of British or French ethnicity, and we decided to reject these dual ethnic nationalisms for a new tripartite approach. This approach adopted a civic nationalism, official bilingualism and official multiculturalism as the basis of a new vision for citizenship. This civic nationalism recognized that all citizens, regardless of their birth or ethnic origin, regardless of whether they had been here 4 or 400 years, were full and equal citizens in Canadian society. The duality of our country, the English and the French fact, were recognized through the policy of official bilingualism. Official multiculturalism ensured that all groups in Canada, whether of French or English descent, whether of African or Asian descent, whether they be of any other descent, would be recognized and celebrated.
Je veux insister sur ma conviction dans l’unique nature du fait français au Canada. Je crois aussi que nous devons non seulement assurer sa survie mais aussi son épanouissement. Et je crois aussi que la meilleure façon d’accomplir ces résultats est par le biais de nos politiques sur le bilinguisme et le multiculturalisme. Par-dessus tout je pense que nous ne pouvons atteindre ces buts/ en reculant dans nos solitudes mais plutôt en nous engageant dans un nationalisme civique commun.
I want to emphasize that I believe in the uniqueness of the French fact of Canada. I also believe that we must ensure not only its survival, but its flourishing. But I believe that this is best accomplished through the policies of official bilingualism and multiculturalism, and above all that it is done not by retreating into our solitudes, but rather by engaging each other through a common civic nationalism.
I have reflected on this over the last five days, trying to see if I could reconcile voting for this motion. I cannot.
I also want to add that the Prime Minister was presented a difficult dilemma by the Bloc Quebecois, and I do not fault him for what he felt he had to do.
I also have faith in the Prime Minister and in the government’s agenda. I believe that the government is on the right track with its accountability package, with its environmental initiatives, with its crime and justice proposals and with its economic plan, and I believe that Canadians do as well. I also believe in our party. I have been a life long Conservative and I remain so.
Michael Chong, M.P.
Michael continues to proudly sit as a Conservative Member of Parliament in the House of Commons representing the constituents of Wellington-Halton Hills.