Quebecois Seccessionist Movement Dead?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by earllogjam, Dec 4, 2007.

  1. earllogjam

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    The Politics of Language

    Haven't heard anything regarding this touchy topic from our great neighbor to the north.

    Has all friction disappeared in Canada regarding an independent Quebec? Are the Quebecois satisfied with the concessions the federal govement made to keep them as part of Canada? Were there concessions?

    I noticed that both French and English are spoken at all government facilities now in the Canadien Rockies. The French mostly with an strong English accent. They make it a point to be as equal as possible to the French speakers it seems.

    I always wondered if Quebec could be viable as an independent country to begin with and if they did indeed leave the union what effect if any it would have had on the other provinces.
     
  2. D_Gunther Snotpole

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    Quebec could easily be viable as an independent country.

    It seems that the steam has largely fallen out of the separatist movement for the moment, but no one thinks separatist sentiment will ever die.

    The Parti Quebecois -- the most important separatist party, which has held power numerous times since 1976 -- recently elected a new leader, Pauline Marois. And in the aftermath of her election, the party moved ahead to number one in the polls. (It has since fallen back.)

    The background support for separation nudges the mid-40 percent region, so the separatists have a strong base. Nonetheless, few Quebecers just now seem to believe that separation is likely in the near future.

    Some people sense a decline in separatist sentiment among young people. With globalization, national borders are starting to seem less relevant to many people, anyway. What's more, the Quebecois have done very well, within Canada, in protecting their culture and language and sense of identity.

    The Quebecois seem still confused about what separation would mean. Many of them believe they would still send MPs to the Canadian parliament, for example, and would still carry Canadian passports.

    This is largely because the politicians who have supported separation, or sovereignty, have purposely confused the picture.

    Another factor is that the current prime minister, Stephen Harper, has cannily affirmed Quebecois national identity in the sociological sense. Of course they form a nation, simply not a nation in the sense which is equivalent to country. And this affirmation, which many thought might fuel the separatist agenda, seems to have sated some of the hunger for a separate country.

    After their first referendum, back in 1980, PQ leader Rene Levesque said this was the first time a people had refused the opportunity to become independent. And then a second referendum, in 1995, also failed, though by a razor-thin margin.

    Referendums are very divisive things. I think that the Quebecois will avoid a referendum in the near future, and in a decade's time (and here I'm perhaps talking a travers mon chapeau), the whole impulse to secede will have begun to definitively diminish.

    I hope so.

    But if they ever go, I will wish them well. I love the Quebecois profoundly. They are astonishingly warm and vital people, with a vibrant culture that the rest of Canada can only envy.

    And they are tightly bound into Canada's larger identity. Their leaving would be a profound, profound rupture.

    It would also be the end of a beautiful idea ... that two peoples, each with great histories behind them, could come together and form a larger whole, with each keeping virtually all of its specificity. The world needs these examples, and Canada, for a long time, has been one.

    If that beautiful idea cannot work in Canada, then where can it work?
     
  3. earllogjam

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    I was speaking with a guy from Calgary and his take on the seccession matter was that Quebec was actually a liablilty for Canada-taking more tax money than it put into the system and that provinces like Alberta would be better off without Quebec. He had no problems with a Canada without it's Francophones. I got the feeling that in Houston North most people could care less about anything other than oil money.

    He also mentioned that French bilingual language education is not manditory except in New Foundland which was suprising to me considering the government's stand on including French as a national language.

    Although the movement may have given many Quebecois pride in thier heritage there probably were many negative repercussions because of the unpredictable political situation - the decline of Montreal in particular as a financial center of Canada and the exodus of business investment to Toronto.

    I always thought you were Quebecois Rubi.
     
  4. Drifterwood

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    Separatism is anti diversity. Diversity is one of Canada's greatest strengths it seems to me.
     
  5. D_Tintagel_Demondong

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    Do you really think, Senor, that Quebec would do as well without the copious transfer payments from the federal government?

    Quebec can't really afford another referendum or separatist campaign. The 1995 referendum scared away so many investors that Quebec is still trying to recover economically. Montreal is a ghost town.

    What about the Maritime provinces? They will be physically separated from the rest of Canada -- the wealthiest part. How can English Canada stay together when they are split in half? Global villiage be damned, without the infrastructure to bind our nation together it will fall apart and forever be a model of failure.
     
  6. D_Gunther Snotpole

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    Well, Earl, the only two provinces that don't take out more than they put in are Alberta and Ontario. Quebec is among the provinces that get equalization payments, and it gets quite a bit, since its population is 7.5 million, or just under a quarter of the total Canadian population.

    In strict financial terms, Alberta would be better off without Quebec, or B.C., or Saskatchewan, or Manitoba, or New Brunswick, or Nova Scotia, or Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland (special note to my buddy Earl ... that's one word, not two:tongue:.)

    But what would that Calgarian have? Nada for a country.

    Albertans, some of them, do have a kind of insular view of the world, I think. But many don't.

    Is it mandatory even in Newfoundland? I didn't know that.
    The people who have to be bilingual are those offering services in federal government offices across the country. Now, not everyone in a federal office in Calgary, say, would have to be bilingual, but there would have to be arrangements so that a francophone could deal with someone in his mother tongue in that office. (I'm sure there are reasonable exceptions allowed.)
    This rankles some people. It makes it difficult for a unilingual anglophone to obtain certain federal civil service positions, and the top levels require the capacity to deal both in French and English. (This would not normally, I don't think, be a great problem outside of Ottawa, the capital, in Ontario.)
    This requires extensive training for those anglophones who elect to go that route, and it also puts them at a disadvantage with francophones from Quebec and other places (there are even francophone communities in Alberta, you know), who more or less automatically have a good command not only of French, but of English, the language they probably live in outside the home and in which they may very well have received a good part of their education.
    So the really bilingual people probably have French as their mother tongue.
    Quebec itself is not officially bilingual, by the way. The only officially bilingual province is New Brunswick, of which roughly a third are of Acadian heritage and often speak French at home. (Like Quebecois French, it has a good many touches of English vocabulary and literally translated expressions, though many people can speak a quite standard French when they're dealing, say, with French people from Europe.)
    Oddly, the province with the largest percentage of elementary and high school students in French immersion programs happens to be ... wait for it, Earl ... ALBERTA.
    Astonishing, no?

    Those repercussions were felt mostly in Quebec, of course.
    But across Canada, many people have grown weary of the incessant political uncertainty. This has been going on for four decades.
    If someone was telling you for 40 years that they were going to divorce you, you might finally not know which would be better ... a continuing of the uncertainty, or a divorce that would allow you to get on with your life.
    But I'm not implying that Canadians want Quebec to go.
    In large majority, they really don't.
    And many, like me, would be deeply wounded if that sad prospect ever darkened ... ended, really ... the history that united, we hoped generously, two solitudes.
    But I cannot speak for the Quebecois. They will decide to go, or the impulse will one day wither and die.

    You had a very knowing look, Earl, that day you saw me eating sugar pie (tarte au sucre).:cool:
    I've lived in Quebec for a while, both in Quebec City and in Montreal.
    I love Quebec.
    But sit down, Earl. I have a confession.
    The francophile you're talkin' to, this guy Rubi ... he's an Albertan born and bred, living now in Ontario.
     
  7. D_Gunther Snotpole

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    Well, rec, we should really discuss this at the Elgin Street Cafe.
    No, Quebec would definitely not do as well ... and those Quebecois who say, against all evidence, that Canada is holding them back financially, would rue their decision to leave.
    But Quebec would survive, and in the larger picture, be a not terribly unsuccessful country even in financial terms.

    I think this is one reason why they will shy away from another referendum.
    But last time, they came within 50,000 votes of winning.
    The vote was 50.58 percent for the No, against 49.42 percent for the Yes.
    If Quebecois pride is in some way offended, I think it's possible that they would hold another referendum, and who knows? Maybe this time, events would nudge the secessionists over the 50 percent line.
    But I agree with you, rec, in saying that another referendum is unlikely.
    Please, God ...

    It will be hard to avoid the feeling that we, once a model of large-minded unity across a linguistic divide, had fallen prey to narrow nationalistic prejudices.
    (I don't want to put it quite that baldly, because I know, and you probably know, many wonderful Quebecois who would not at all mind having their own country. It's not the Good People Against the Bad.)
    It would probably be rough for the Maritime provinces. Some people think we would get a transportation corridor across Quebec ... in fact, I'm sure we would have something like the arrangements in the European Community. There would be pretty free flow of goods east and west.
    But something psychological would be irretrievably broken.
     
  8. D_Tintagel_Demondong

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    Gladly!
     
  9. D_Gunther Snotpole

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    Okay, I'm the gorgeous dude eating the beef pull sandwich plate.:cool:
     
  10. earllogjam

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    You do the French Canadian impersonation so well I thought you were a native. I've been to Montreal and Quebec City and they are quite charming.

    As my good friend Celine Dion once said to me...

    "Las Vegas est OK, mais il n'ya pas de place comme à la maison."

    Through the Google translator of course.

    Alberta *sigh - gazing up to the sky* Isn't KD Lang from there?

    Why would cowboy kids need or want to speak French in the Texas of Canada? Unless they are the kind of cowboys kids that eat sugar pies and dream of getting out of the sticks.
     
  11. D_Gunther Snotpole

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    Fascinating to hear, earl. Please tell me more. (All the time in the world, here, y'know.)

    KD grew up in Consort, she did.
    Consort is a centre of the beef cattle industry. KD, as you probably know, my dear earl, is a vegetarian ... an activist one.
    So KD got more than a bit of flack from the home bois.
    But she's still got the twang.
    And ain't she great?
    I mean, really?
    (Patsy Cline was her great early influence, and you should hear her version of Cryin'. It makes me ... you know ...)

    Don't tell anyone, earl, but here's my secret theory:
    A lot of Albertans feel like hicks.
    There is a twang in some of the speech.
    Lot of cowboi hats and Herefords. (Oh, gosh darn ... you ain't never seen so many Herefords, earl.)
    The Social Credit party ruled for nearly four decades, and the premier for a long time had a radio show called Back to the Bible Hour.
    I mean, there's a touch of Inherit the Wind there, if you get my subtle drift, earl. (And I know you do, earl ... I just know it.)
    Well, if you felt fated to stay in the sticks but wanted to feel that you'd gone to the city, what would you do, earl? What would be the most efficient turn-key change you could make?
    Mais, il faudrait apprendre la langue de Moliere, n'est-ce pas, earl?
    Et d'un coup, tout aurait change.
    I think that's the thinking.
    But this is our secret, earl.
    You must tell no one.
    Me? I got out of the sticks, keepin' only one.
     
  12. Gillette

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    Rubi, you slay me.
     
  13. D_Gunther Snotpole

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    Gillette, you are inspiring, and not in a good way, a stick-wielding Albertan.:cool:
     
  14. earllogjam

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    La langue de Moliere et d'un coup, tout aurait change, in Calgary no less.

    Actually, the last remaining outpost of the American West no longer exists in America but is alive and well at the Calgary Stampede, Yee Haw - the ultimate white people's festival, the celebration of hickdom. Never have I seen so many wanna be cowboys in my life - all wearing shiny white Herefords, not pretending to be cultured French speakers but trying to be citizens of the sticks.

    I too, have been running from my red neck roots for the longest time now but learning "la langue de Moliere" just doesn't seem like it would be enough distance if I lived in Alberta.
     
  15. D_Gunther Snotpole

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    Even the Stetson Herefords suck, doncha think, earl?
    I never ran from my red neck roots ... they just never 'took,' earl.
    A guy named 'rubi' don't have no red neck roots.
    A guy named 'earl'?
    Ah do worry a spot, um, 'earl.'

    Seriously, earl ... why don't you sketch out your red neck roots a bit?
    You do look a tad red neck ... but that's a good thing.
    You know, verrrrry maskuleen and all ...
    Anyhoo, I'm curious.:cool:
    Seriously.
     
  16. rob_just_rob

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    It's still an issue, but on the back burner now. The separatists aren't talking about referendums currently because they know they'd lose. Makes me wonder how many referendums they plan to hold, if they keep losing. And whether a pro-amalgamation party would rise up in Quebec if separation did occur, and hold endless referendums on rejoining Canada. :rolleyes:

    There's a lot of messy issues with the concept of separatism and how the mechanics of it would work. The Parti Quebecois seem to expect that if separation occurs, it will be on their terms. Which, to put it mildly, isn't going to happen. Among other things, there are diplomatic/passport issues, Quebec's share of the national debt and other economic questions, and the question of the divisibility of Quebec, itself, that need to be resolved.

    Touchy subject? Oh yes.
     
  17. joyboytoy79

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    *in best Pepe LePew impression* Le Sigh, I do love me some Rubi! I do!
     
  18. D_Gunther Snotpole

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    I imagine the idea of falling on their faces a third straight time does give some pause.

    Well, I do think that a separatist government, with a referendum victory, would have a strong hand.
    Diplomatic/passport issues? Well, those I don't think will be terribly difficult to solve.
    As for Quebec's share of the national debt, well, morally, they should be on the hook for a good quarter of it. (And arguably more, considering how much federal money has gone into the province ... but I don't think anyone will seriously push this tack.)
    But the fact is that the national debt is owed by Canada.
    If Quebec refuses to shoulder any of it, Canada still owes the debt.
    So the Quebecois government would have a great deal of leverage.
    Canada doesn't have a lot of legalistic sticks to bring to bear.
    As for the divisibility of Quebec, that could be a real sticking point.

    Yup.
     
  19. D_Gunther Snotpole

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    Pepe, I still love you.
    (And owe you a PM, dood.:cool:)
     
  20. rob_just_rob

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    Perhaps all 10 provinces should secede... and voila, we have wiped out the debt!

    No, despite what the PQ would have Quebecers believing, walking away from the debt is not that simple.
     
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