Tuesday, February 19, 2008


A very interesting development in the Balkans. The Kosovar declaration of independence has implications here in Canada. The comparisons with Qu├ębec have and will be made. Spain, which has similar secessionist concerns, has refused to recognize Kosovo. I think this is the wrong approach. The division of a country is a traumatic and dramatic moment. However, the division of one country does not guarantee the division of another. The history of Serbia is completely different from that of Canada. The last time English Canadians tried to wipe out the French was over 200 years ago. This is not true in Kosovo. There is a major difference in the ethnic tensions in the two locales. Ethnic tensions in Canada may lead to the occasional hurt feeling, they almost never (at least since the demise of the FLQ) lead to serious injury or death. Ethnic tensions in Serbia are far more dangerous. It is difficult to compare this reaction from Serbs to the peaceful demonstrations of English Canadians which characterized the last referendum campaign. There is no history of Serbs and Kosovars living peacefully within a Serbian state. The last twenty years have been characterized by ethnic conflict and UN supervision. Canada did not object 15 years ago when the Soviet Union broke up. It did not object when East Timor broke away from Indonesia. It did not object when Eritrea separated from Ethiopia. We should not be afraid to support the independence of a country because of fear of encouraging separatism at home. Separatism should be combated by proving to all Quebeckers that their future is brightest within the Canadian federation. We should not be threatened by legitimate claims for independence.


Mark said...

When did English Canadians try to wipe out the French 200 years ago?

If we don't start teaching Canadian history in our schools we don't deserve to be a country.

The only thing remotely comparable to what you suggest would be the expulsion of the Acadians, which was done not by English Canadians, but by a British General. And that was over 250 years ago.

Even at the time of Wolfe's victory at Quebec, his terms of surrender included explicit protections for the French inhabitants, their institutions and religion.

aginsberg said...

You're right. I was being generous. I was thinking of the Seven Years War and the Acadians before that, but you are right to say it is not comparable. There was the oft cited if not particularly relevant section of the Durham or Elgin report which called for unification in order to reduce or eliminate the French influence. However, this was never practically acted upon. Like the recommendations of so many royal commissions, it was promptly ignored.

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