Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Canada?

I suspect this may be the year -- the fiscal one, I suppose -- when we lost Canada.
The first, and most damaging, mistake was the Harper government's decision to recognize Quebec as a nation. Now that Parliament has done so, most of the work of Quebec nationalists is complete. It is only a matter of ironing out the details.
Last night's election started the process.
The vast majority of seats were won by statist and neo-Marxist nationalists (the Parti Quebecois) and corporatist nationalists (the ADQ). The latter party represents a return to pre-1960 Duplessis-era fascism. I chose that word very carefully, and by it I mean the Salazar, deGaulle, Franco and Peron-style of fascism. It's a movement based around a charismatic leader that uses triumphalist historic references, xenophobia, race fears and nationalism as major tools of public persuasion, and has very little regard for the liberty of minorities and individuals. It appeals to the most narrow-minded, frightened and angry individuals and to, in this case, the Francophone business elite that has profited so well from the decisions of the Quebec and federal governments since the mid-1960s.
Quebec's choice of direction is now completely and obviously at odds with that of the rest of the country. The narrative of Toronto and Vancouver of a rights-respecting, pluralist and capitalist society that looks to the future has very little in common with Quebec City and Montreal's domination by a mindset that looks backwards, inwards and is afraid of the future.
Contrast Quebec City with Calgary, and the gap is even wider. They are in the same country only in name.
There probably is no way to bridge the gap.
So, I think, it really is all just a matter of details.

5 comments:

The Bloganism said...

Xenophobic?
Oh yes indeed. The 'itsdajews' mentality is at prolly the strongest in Quebec vis the ROC, and that's not saying nothing.
Not to mention 'les haissables' --ie 'the hated ones', a pun on 'haitiens' (in french that 't' is pronounced as an 's').
As it is, I'm getting this 'pulse' from local semi-rural bars and diners, so for sure it's anecdotal and mebbe means nothing.
Mebbe.

nomdeblog said...

Your description of Quebec is pretty much the way I’d describe its slide since 1976.

But first of all, Harper didn’t make it a recognition of the geographical nation of Quebec, it is simply a recognition of the Quebecois, the people, as a nation within Canada; a big difference that even an un-nuanced, neo-con like me can understand. It happened because Boston-Iggy pushed Harper down that path and then Duceppe was going to put in a motion on Quebec the nation that might do what you feared.

However, I now think we have room to be optimistic that a fresh approach will awaken Quebecers from their affair with Marxists who replaced the role of the overbearing Catholic Church; they now have some self- confidence to look after themselves.

Furthermore it is time to revert to the BNA act and quite pretending we’re a nice tightly bound country, we aren’t, we’re very regionalized. It’s time to run it that way and have local solutions for local challenges and have government accountable to the local electorate.

Finally, the world’s economy is too globally connected for the ADQ to turn into a Franco or Peron, those guys lived in isolation. Dumont has been coached by Bouchard who has been coached by Desmarais, both of whom know Quebecers have to come out of their cave.

Also , I don't think that the folks here in Toronto are half as self sufficient as the entreprenuers in the Beauce. I'll take my chances with Charest and Dumont over McGuinty and Miller any day.

Ottawa Watch said...

First, I'm not at all sure that an autonomous or independent Quebec is necessarily a bad thing.
Second, the growth and prosperity of Toronto, compared to any place in Quebec, is quite astounding. Miller and McGuinty's impact on the development of the city is pretty minimal.
As for xenophobic laws and practices in Quebec, they're already in place. Quebec is legally a unicultural state that actively discriminates against linguistic and cultural minorities.

nomdeblog said...

“As for xenophobic laws and practices in Quebec” ..

Agreed, if Dumont is serious about “making Quebec a have Province within Canada” then Quebec has to make significant adjustments.

But it hasn’t been irrational in the context of a North American economy of over 300 million mostly English speaking people for Quebec to want to protect their language. They understand perhaps better than Europe (Eurabia?) that one culture is eventually going to adapt to the other, the question is which way is it going move?

For example In London, Barclays bank is removing its piggy bank give-aways from its counters because they offend. Opposite to that, we see in Quebec the silliness of whether Muslims can have a prayer session at a sugaring off

Somewhere in the middle is the answer to the question of what is xenophobic versus common sense to preserve values in a culture?

Ottawa Watch said...

This is very true. The French language was losing ground, especially with Quebec's sharply-declining birth rate. The government, though, reacted by simply hamstringing long-held minority rights, the right to freedom of expression, and, rather than attempt to stop the decline, Quebec began a policy to drive out and/or disenfranchise those who did not speak French.
Does the majority have the right to vote out the minority? Montreal had been a bicultural city since 1763. People like Vallieres tried to use Marxist reasons for hobbling or destroying the English presence in the city, equating all Anglophones with the managers of CPR's Angus Shops.
Still, Montreal has a large Anglophone community. Its two best universities are English. The English language does dominate North America. From that point of view, I can understand Quebecois fears. But how much of the language and cultural struggle is really about preserving Quebec, and how much of it is about creating an old-stock Quebecois state where all other minorities are tokens or are simply tolerated because the alternative is too messy?
Quebecois people tend to be friendly, open and charitable. I don't know why this is not better reflected in its governing class.