2006-12-02

Even in their wildest dreams, separatists never imagined that Stéphane Dion could become Prime Minister of Canada

I predicted Quebec would be a country in 2008. I wasn't kidding.

"Même dans leurs rêves les plus fous, les souverainistes n'ont sans doute jamais osé imaginer que Stéphane Dion devienne premier ministre du Canada." ( Le nouveau vilain, Michel David, Le Devoir, 2006-12-02).

Translation: Even in their wildest dreams, separatists never imagined that Stéphane Dion could become Prime Minister of Canada.

Back in 1995, there were two federalists at the Université de Montréal (Quebec's largest university with over 50,000 students): Stéphane Dion and myself. That may be an exaggeration, but I honestly knew of no other student but myself who supported the no campaign. Dion was a political science professor and a regular debater on TV presenting the No arguments.

My excuse at the time was that I was half English-Canadian and from Gatineau, a region that would not benefit from civil service jobs moving to Quebec City. And when you are a university student, jobs in your home town are very important. I was especially concerned with being able to work outside Quebec ( i.e, in Ottawa).

Like many Quebec federalists, I left Quebec in the 90s (Quebec has only recently stoped hemorrhaging citizens). Even today, the salary difference between Quebec and Ontario is quite significant (no to mention the tax savings). In the late 90s, there were no jobs in Quebec, so I left reluctantly. But being bilingual, at least I could.

Toronto was as a shock. Thank goodness it was multicultural because being with English-Canadians was, to be polite, different. I actually had to tell my boss that referring to French-Canadians as frogs was insulting. A radio station was trying to compete with Howard Stern by Quebec bashing. A prospective employer told me how surprising that not everybody in Quebec spoke English and she insisted that Canada was NOT a bilingual country. In fact, that seemed to be the consensus among my English-Canadian colleagues: Canada was an English country populated by a minority group too lazy to learn proper English.

Franco-Ontarians were even worst. They watch TV in English only. Listen only to English music and generally consider English the language of business, even when dealing with other francophones.

The laws providing for services in French were ignored both at the federal and provincial level (Harris was in power). In New Brunswick, the condition of the French language is only slightly better despite the fact that Acadians have 30% of New Brunswick's population.

Suddenly, the language laws of Quebec didn't seem so crazy. I realised that labour mobility was probable even if Quebec became an independant country (like between Ireland and the UK, NZ and Australia or Sweden and Norway).

Jane Jacob's book convinced me. Quebec becoming a country wouldn't be a national tragedy. At worst, it would be a minor nuisance.

Stéphane Dion, like Jean Chrétien, is perceived in Quebec as a sellout. "Un vendu". Not only is he against Quebec being a country, he is really against it. He inexplicably trusts English Canadians to do the right thing. According to him, there are only positives to be part of this English speaking country where French is tolerated.

Put me in a room full of nationalist Quebeckers and I'll start signing the praises of Canada. But for the last 10 years, I've been in a room full of nationalist Canadians and I don't like it.

Perhaps dealing with people like Gerard Kennedy will help convert Dion. Help convince him that English-Canadians can not be trusted with Quebec's future. We'll see.

-Liberals Forget Canada is Bilingual;
-Will Quebec Being a Nation Affect the Price of Beer? ;
-OUI ;
-Est-ce qu'on peut etre separatiste et Liberal? ;
-National Defence Should be a Provincial Jurisdiction ;
-Time to Bring Back the Charlottetown Accord ;
-The Process of Becoming Anti-Quebec ;
-Dion Makes Kennedy Sound Coherent ;
-Abolish the Monarchy in Canada ;
-Climate Change: local governments must pick up the slack, or else... ;
-Enjeux: discrimination

1 comment:

Charlie Barnard said...

You forget to mention how many seats the "sellout" Jean Chretien won in Quebec.

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