Sadly, a Québécois spring seems increasingly unlikely. I say sadly, because I can’t help feeling sorry for Francophones who want Quebec to leave Canada. For a mainly French province in a largely English country the frustration is never ending.
Look what happens when unilingual Francophones go grocery shopping. They’re searching for haricots rouges, fromage râpé, and miel en crème, but because of the perverse placement of containers, they see red kidney beans, grated cheese and creamed honey. What, pray tell, are red kidney beans? What are grated cheese and creamed honey? What are all those foreign fragments on dozens of other tinned or packaged products? Whatever they are, the breach of communication happens every time unilingual Francophones forage for food. Food is one of the essentials of life, for goodness sake. But when they try to access it, Francophones face federally erected language barriers that confuse and obstruct them.
Exhausted, they go home for relief and tune in to Question Period. What do they see and hear but a horde of insensitive Anglophones torturing the French language. It was far less painful when they spoke only English and tortured their own language. But the English dominated central government couldn’t leave well enough alone. It had to impose bilingualism on the entire country and make unilingual Francophones feel like foreigners in their native land. It didn’t help that one of their own, the traitorous Pierre Trudeau, led the bilingual charge.
I blame the media-academic complex, of which Trudeau was a willing member. Recoiling from the English defeat of the French on the Plains of Abraham, this gaggle of unrepentant statists made the losers feel victimized and the winners guilty. The remedy, from flattery to reparations, is supposed to foster national unity but promotes the opposite. Talk about unintended consequences.
No self-respecting Francophone wants to call Quebec a nation. Francophones know that they can’t print their own currency, police their own borders, set their own foreign policy. Along with everyone else, they can see that calling a province a nation is like calling a chapter a book. They understand that labelling Quebec a distinct society doesn’t make it special, because every provincial society is distinct. But that’s the sort of flattery they have to put up with from federalists trying to make them feel good about not being a sovereign state.
No self-respecting Francophone wants to be bribed to remain in Canada with billions of dollars extorted annually from Anglophone countrymen. No self-respecting Francophone wants to be seduced into compliance, like pampered pets that can’t survive on their own, or domesticated zoo dwellers that lack the courage to escape when their cages are left open. What’s most galling is not the embarrassment of accepting handouts. It’s not even the humiliation of seeing their leaders beg for them. It’s the dependency and corruption that bribery breeds.
Bribery is bad enough. Boasting about it is unconscionable. We all remember the infamous sponsorship program. It consisted of a multi-million dollar orgy of federalist bragging about Canada’s contributions to Quebec. Of course, federalists didn’t call it bragging. They called it promotion. Politicians thrive on euphemisms
They spent money on sports, culture, films, TV and – can you believe it? – souvenirs like ties, toques, windbreakers, Christmas decorations, alarm clocks, corkscrews and initialled golf balls, all for Canadian unity. Oh, I know that participants misdirected and misused millions of dollars. But that wasn’t the real scandal. That was merely the cost of doing political business. The real scandal was that the program aimed at making Quebecers rejoice over federalist seduction and forget that they dwell in occupied territory.
But they can’t forget that they settled here long before the English came conquering. Nor can they overlook the ignominy of living under a patriated Constitution that Quebecers didn’t want. The federal and other provincial governments forced it on them, along with a Charter ironically titled Rights and Freedoms.
Unless they muster the courage to separate from us, their only hope is that we muster the compassion to separate from them. Do unto others, scripture says, as you would have others do unto you. With a similar history, but with Canada largely French and my province mainly English, I would welcome a compassionate response.
I realize that a sovereign Quebec would divide the Atlantic provinces from the rest of Canada. But a sovereign Canada divides Alaska from the rest of the United States and Americans and Canadians both flourish.
Quebec sovereignty could be a win-win situation. To me, that seems preferable to a whine-whine situation.