Home > Personal > “In my country…”

“In my country…”

05-Feb-07 10:27 pm EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

I’ve lived in Ottawa, ON for five years or so now.  It was never supposed to last this long – and I’m starting to get used to it.  I’m from the Canadian prairies – Winnipeg, MB specifically.  So, there are subtle differences in culture that predominate both in Canada and the U.S. between east and west.  But there’s one difference germane to Canada’s side I’ll likely never get used to…this rediculous tension which exists between anglophones and francophones.

Take the lady I overheard in my doctor’s clinic this evening.  She managed to get into a silly little debate with the receptionist ovver whether Quebec was a country.  The patient in question was trying to buy a doctor’s note (yeah, they sell those here) and in asking for it she said "..it’s not like that in my country; we need a doctor’s note and we don’t have to pay for it." 

To which the receptionist replied, "You mean province, don’t you?" 

"No!  Country!" came the swift retort.

If we want to be truly technical – and it doesn’t matter a damn if you’re a francophone or anglophone, favour soverignty for Quebec or Canadian federalism; Quebec is not a country either culturally, philosophically or politically.  It’s a province.  You can’t have a cultural country anymore than you can have a cultural nation.  You can have a culture.  You can even have a Quebec nationalism.  At least that’s how it is in the english language.

And that’s how it is in french too, at least so far as I understand it.  You can have "une culture de la francophonie", "une culture du Quebec" and even "une nationalite Quebecois".  But not "la nation du Quebec comme la nation du Canada."  Nor "le pays du Quebec" becuase neither of those exist.  At least, not yet.

This nonsense has even reached Canada’s anglo and francophone politicians.  And for reasons of political opportunism as much as anything else, they’ve pretty much universally sold out to this idea of a "philosophical/cultural" nation as opposed to a "political" one in the name of getting a few extra votes in Quebec, because those who sit on the line between being pro-soverignty and not will more likely lean in favour of federalism if federalists accept the idea.  But the reality remains the same regardless.  Quebec, as a political entity, remains a province.

The problem really dates back to Canada’s founding as federation of individual states, to be called provinces.  In Quebec, the popular view is that all of Canada’s provinces are, in fact, individual mini-states which opt into the confederation of Canada willingly.  Yet what virtually nobody in Quebec realizes (or seems to care) is that this idea outside of Quebec is both unpopular as it is meaningless because no province would ever assert it has the right to call itself a nation in any context – cultural or otherwise.  Indeed, to other provinces, Quebec appears to be trying to single itself out as some kind of superior entity within confederation with typical eastern arrogance, because it remains collectively insensitive to the other provinces’ status with respect to Ontario (Canada’s uber-province).  This isn’t to say there aren’t substantial cultural differences between, say, Manitoba and Ontario – because there certainly are, I’d argue.  The point is, even so, Manitobans wouldn’t presume to try to assert Manitoban cultural or civic nationhood at the expense of the whole and don’t see it right for Quebeccers to try.

So, back to this lady.  I watched, bemused, as this conversation evolved from the confrontational tone to the snide, standoffish, stick-to-business tone such conversations are properly regulated to once they start.  However, I see a growing problem here…at least insofar as living in a place like Ottawa is concerned.  With a virtual 50/50 split between english and french-speaking residents, I worry this nonsense will continue to somehow capture the attention and minds of the vast majority in Quebec (and in the rest of Canada) who seem all to quick to never look at the big picture…at what it all means for the nation.

And the nation I’m speaking of, naturally, is the only one that really exists here.

Canada.

Advertisements
Categories: Personal
  1. Ross
    02-Sep-07 02:34 pm EDT at 02:34 pm EDT

    I wished I got notice of these replies – I don\’t, and so months often go by without any response….but since I was reviewing my blog this long weekend, here we go.
     
    On the "arrogance" thing.  There is an arrogance, regulated mostly to Ontario – and one that\’s mostly politically-oriented – toward non-easterners.  A Torontonian commenting on this subject might tend to be "shouted off the stage" for either denying it or characterizing other regions as being somehow too sensitive about it; given a room full of representative Canadians.  Nonetheless, there\’s no such thing as a "western inferiority complex".  Frankly, I\’ve lived there, and this individual -by the sounds of it – has not.  And that\’s my qualified view on the subject.
     
    Conversely, eastern Canadian politicians – and even the western ones when they tend to move to eastern Canada (eg. Haper) – tend to see political and economic affairs overly within the context of the "golden horseshoe".  Everything outside gets les consideration.  Where tis is a problem for Quebecers, in my view, is a kind of general amnesia about the fact there is a much larger group to consider when making demands of the federal government.  Or, for that atter – anything else.  Nobody in Quebec seems to think about what people in the western provinces might feel about Quebec\’s collective notions on separation.  They sure do care about what Ontarians think, though – just ask any politically-minded Quebecer and they\’ll have more than an ambivalent attitude toward what Ontario\’s politicians have to say on the subject.  (It tends to be a trifle antagonistic in case you were wondering.)
     
    Ironically, that\’s pretty much the same attitude westerners have toward Ontario too – on a good number of political subjects.
     
    Regarding culture – the previous post said:
     
    "They don\’t play a "culture card" to get special treatment.  Quebec, except for Montreal, speaks a different language, has a different legal regime, has a different cultural heritage than the rest of the country.  It IS unique."
     
    Yet, historically, they do.  I cite Trudeau\’s Memoirs on the subject – for decades it was the ongoing issues between Quebec and the federal governent of the day – as it is today, albeit less so.  And, having been to Montreal on many occasions (Ottawa\’s really not that far away) there\’s plenty of french there too – ya might wanna add that to the itinerary at some point before declaring it unilingually english.
     
     

    Like

  2. Anthony
    28-Feb-07 09:14 pm EDT at 09:14 pm EDT

    "In Quebec,
    the popular view is that all of Canada\’s provinces are, in fact,
    individual mini-states which opt into the confederation of Canada
    willingly.  Yet what virtually nobody in Quebec realizes (or seems to
    care) is that this idea outside of Quebec is both unpopular as it is
    meaningless because no province would ever assert it has the right to
    call itself a nation in any context – cultural or otherwise.  Indeed,
    to other provinces, Quebec appears to be trying to single itself out as
    some kind of superior entity within confederation"Canada started out as a partnership between the English Upper Canada and the French Lower Canada.  The lines of the map were drawn based on cultural borders.  Provincial legislatures were given jurisdiction over property and civil rights so that Quebec could maintain its civil law and not have to adopt the British common law.  Catholic schools are publicly funded in Canada, and Canada has been criticized by the UN for this blatant violation of equality rights, because the Quebec population was predominantly Catholic.Now there\’s one "French" province and 9 "English" ones.  Quebec is not an equal partner anymore, it is outnumbered 9 to 1.  Is Canada still what it was created to be? "with typical eastern
    arrogance,"typical western inferiority complex"because it remains collectively insensitive to the other
    provinces\’ status with respect to Ontario (Canada\’s uber-province)."They don\’t play a "culture card" to get special treatment.  Quebec, except for Montreal, speaks a different language, has a different legal regime, has a different cultural heritage than the rest of the country.  It IS unique.  Should it separate?  I don\’t think so.  But I was born and raised in Toronto from immigrant stock.  I\’m not Quebequois.  I don\’t get a say.

    Like

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Terry Glavin

CHRONICLES

Techno Manor

Geek's Corner

VM.Blog.

an IT blog.. and an occasional rant

Yammer Site Status

Is Yammer down? Offline? Broken? Undergoing scheduled maintenance? When will it be back? Find out here.

jalalaj

A journey full of wonderful experiences

Azure and beyond

My thoughts on Microsoft Azure and cloud technologies

TechCrunch

Startup and Technology News

Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Latest News, Breaking Headlines & Sports

National Post

Canadian News, World News and Breaking Headlines

Targeted individuals's

One Government to rule them all.

Joey Li's IT Zone

Everything about IT

jenyamatya

Unravelling the magik of code...

The Bike Escape

Adventures on a road bike

The Ross Report

Now you know where you need to know more...

Lights in the Dark

A journal of space exploration

ottawatraining.wordpress.com/

Using strength to improve and eliminate injuries.

The Ross Report

Now you know where you need to know more...

Little Girl's Mostly Linux Blog

Nothing to see here. Move along...

David Eedle

Geek, tech, programmer, business owner. Serial starter of things. Occasional finisher. Oh, and please don't call me Dave.

%d bloggers like this: