Canadian Cabinet Minister resigns over Harper's Quebec motion

Monday, November 27, 2006

Michael Chong, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister of Sport, and MP for the riding of Wellington—Halton Hills, has resigned over Stephen Harper's Quebec motion. The motion asks MPs if Quebec is a nation "within a united Canada".

Chong opposed the vote saying that it was akin to ethnic nationalism, which he opposes.

"It is nothing else but the recognition of ethnic nationalism, and that is something I cannot support. It cannot be interpreted as the recognition of a territorial nationalism, or it does not refer to the geographic entity, but to a group of people," Chong said.

"I am resigning as minister so I can abstain from the vote tonight," Chong said at a news conference in Ottawa, the nations capital. "While I am loyal to my party and to my leader, my first loyalty is to my country. I believe in one nation undivided called Canada."

Chong remains a Conservative member of Parliament. Later in the day, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed York—Simcoe, Ontario MP Peter Van Loan to the position vacated by Chong.

Harper asked Liberal race contender Stéphane Dion for guidance with the Quebec motion instead of asking the now former Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, Michael Chong.

Michael Ignatieff, the front-runner in the Liberal leadership race, has proposed a similar motion. Liberal leadership candidate, Gerard Kennedy, said he opposes the motion and finds it divisive to national unity and could advance the separatist agenda.

The vote will be held tonight in the House of Commons.