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The Great Québec Mythology

28-Oct-05 01:03 am EDT Leave a comment Go to comments
The CBC’s leading English-speaking Québec political columnist, Chantal Hebert, has always irked me.  She irks me because every time I see her comment on the national news about Québec nationalism, it seems to have an annoyingly anti-federalist bias.  (And as a proud Canadian, that’s my own bias.)  However, the centrepiece of her theology on the big "what if" scenario conerning Québec seperation is exactly the same as many seperatists: that Canada will ultimately accept the concept of soverignty association if there’s ever a ‘yes’ vote for independance.
And I can’t understand why that mythology survives on this, the 10th anniversary of the last seperation referendum.
 
Near the top of the list of biggest threats to Canadian unity is this idea that if & when such negotiations –  which after all, as Mme. Hebert points out is mandated by a recent Supreme Court ruling – commence, some kind of amicable relationship between Québec and the rest of Canada will be swiftly reached and we’ll all live happily ever after.  Typical easterner nearsightednes is at work here, I’m afraid.  And I don’t say that to be bigoted at all.  There’s a very real propensity in areas of greater population to not nocie areas more sparsely peopled.  And it’s very, very dangerous in this case – because it’s the kind of thing that can ignite a civil war.
 
My belief is there’s no chance of that kind of scenario here.  But Québecers and Ontarians both are quite delusional to think western Canadians will exist peacefully in an arrangement with Québec after such an act of rejection.  It wouldn’t be amicable at all.  Western Canadians would be eager to isolate Québec, boot it out of NAFTA and essentially take their ball home leaving Québec to fend for itself in every possible, spiteful sense of the word.
 
The financial chaos and really destituion (particularly where Québec is concerned) would also be very real.  And there’s another piece of the mythology that somehow seems to slide by the seperatists.  That in the end there’d be no consequence to trade relationships or employment figures either.
 
God forbid the cold, wet dousing that awaits the realization of this nightmarish fiction should ever turn to fact would bring.  But I fear there’d be a lot of very, very surprised Québecers a few months after a ‘yes’ vote wondering how so much could go wrong so quickly.  Would they blame their leadership that liberated them from Canada?  Probably not – more likely they’d blame those dmaned english for springing spiteful ruin upon them.
 
10 years later, there needs to be a lot more talk between the two solitudes that still exist (regardless of what our dear Governor General believes).  Or not only might we not have a country 10 years hence, but be facing challenges faced now by countries in eastern Europe.  And the time is ripe for seperatists and federalists to get much of what they each want right now too because there’s consensus amongst them on one key point: we need a new Canadian formula to keep the constituents of Canada happy in the long term.  And grass-roots level talk about how to go about doing that together – in a unified Canada – will yield the best results.
 
Without an exchange between the people of Québec and the rest of Canada, by the 20th anniversary, there might not be much left to celebrate…
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Terry Glavin

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