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Will Baird asked what these paragraphs meant.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he wants to get the federal government's relationship back on track with Quebec.

Harper says he wants to go ahead with what he calls open federalism that is appealing to Quebecers and to other provinces. The prime minister was in Quebec City today to meet with Liberal Premier Jean Charest.

In the words of [livejournal.com profile] acrabtree, they mean that Qu├ębec's progression towards full nationhood will be entirely unobstructed. Canada is not a nation-state, and never could have been. Canada could have been a multinational state if English Canadians had ever thought of themselves as constituting a nation or a group of kindred peoples like the Swiss Germans, but English Canada never really existed. Canada is simply going to become a political unit favoured not because of its expression in the Renanian collective will of the Canadian peoples, but rather because it's convenient. Or, perhaps after one referendum returns a "Oui" or even a "Yes" in favour of separation, because it isn't any more.

For "open federalism," in short, read the "variable geometry" favoured in discourse on the European Union, which already lets some states choose to opt in or opt out on projects of nominally pan-EU import like the euro or foreign policy.

I think this a good thing, incidentally. Others' mileage certainly varies.
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