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December 17, 2005



Duceppe kept bringing up the European Union as an example of the sort of thing that most sovereigntists want.

His reference was to "Europe" and not the "European Union", per se. But he seemed to mean some sort of sovereignty-federation where individual units could opt-in or opt-out on an issue by issue basis in terms of policy/legislation/programmes affecting the aggregate.

What he pushed more clearly, however, was a strict reading of the Constitution Act and -- likely, but not stated -- an ammendment to the residual powers in favour of the provinces in all cases. On questions of education and health he, essentially, refused to answer on the basis that these were provincial matters and not federal matters. He was especially angry at Health Canada... "Thousands of employees in Ottawa and not one of them is a doctor." He meant a narrow meaning of doctor: someone who has patients as opposed to an epidemiologist. Presumably, an epidemologist is a bureaucrat first.

I made some comments on the debate at my site. There wasn't much to comment on, except that, year after year, Duceppe is the only tolerable party leader and is clearly the most intelligent of the bunch.


Ah, yes. But my point still stands: Europe in any way, shape, or form is a bad example. What the majority of Quebec nationalists have wanted is a rather novel arrangement given the entire context of the country. It's perfectly fair, of course, to want a completely novel arrangement.


I'm not voting for the EU constitution!


And no one said you should. I wouldn't have voted for it either.


I'll have much more to say about this in another venue at another time, but part of the problem is a continued and historical misunderstanding of the nature of sovereignty. The so-called systematizer of the theory of sovereignty prior to Westphalia (and, therefore, raised as the greatest figure in the pantheon of sovereignty theorists), Jean Bodin, tells us, in The Six Books of the Commonwealth (a book, by the way, that currently has no adequate English edition and the only circulating edition is a severe abridgement of about 100 pages put out by Cambridge -- I'd put a definitive edition together myself, but I don't speak the Latin of the Romanists and barely understand the early modern revival of Roman law), that the 'proper end of the state' is 'a well-ordered life'. Sovereignty, as such, is a relationship between life and death, living and dying; it isn't, in the first instance, about political authority, territory and income taxes. Significant bodies of work -- ignored by political scientists and historians -- traces sovereignty back to the ancient patria potestas: right of a father to kill his son.

Like I said, more later and in another venue. Canadians and Europeans alike misunderstand the stakes of sovereignty. It is especially dangerous in Europe, where only one regime has actually understood and acted upon sovereignty...

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