OTTAWA - The Canadian Parliament recognized Quebecers as a nation within a
united Canada on Monday, backing a controversial proposal that already prompted
one minister in the minority Conservative government to quit.
The House of Commons, Parliament's
elected chamber, voted 266-16 in favor of the motion, which the government said
it saw as a way to head off pressure from French-speaking separatists who want
to break away from Canada.
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen
Harper (C) stands to vote in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in
Ottawa November 27, 2006. [Reuters]
Critics said the proposal could actually bolster the separatists, and the
pro-independence Bloc Quebecois said it would use the change to demand extra
powers, including Quebec's right to speak at international meetings.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Michael Chong resigned over the vote and
said the separatists would use it to sow confusion.