“The door to sovereingty remains opened.”
There are several political parties in Quebec, but I am told that in this part of Quebec, the Eastern Townships, most Quebecers support sovereignty for the Province of Quebec. Monsieur Legault is a former member of the Parti québécois. The PQ has been home to Quebecers seeking sovereignty: les Péquistes. As the statement above indicates, les Caquistes, members of Coalition avenir Québec, support increased sovereignty. So does Québec solidaire and other parties. You may remember that, when Pauline Marois was elected Premier of Quebec, someone tried to shoot her. The person who jumped forward to stop the gunman was killed. (See 2012 Montreal Shooting, Wikipedia.) The shooter was an Anglophone.
- Language Laws (Bills 22 and 101, etc.)
- the Insurrections of 1837-38 (the teaching of history)
- le Parti canadien (1826)
Quebec has language laws, which, enforced rigidly, are stifling. More importantly, these language laws cannot fully protect French-speaking Quebecers. They may, in fact, lull French-speaking Quebecers into thinking their language is protected. Well, their language, my mother tongue, isn’t and cannot be protected unless there is sufficient emphasis on learning to speak and write French correctly in Quebec schools and in Quebec homes.
Moreover, I wonder if Quebecers are taught Canadian history. If so, it seems lessons prepare students to believe that we, “poor French-speaking Canadians,” have been persecuted by English Canadians.
Yes, Orangemen prevented French-speaking and Catholic Canadians from going to Western Canada and being educated in their language. They killed Louis Riel, and, after his death, French Canadians living west of Quebec had to enroll their children in English-language schools. But a few French-speaking communities survived, and, in September 1969, the Official Languages Act came into effect. Matters have been corrected.
It is not true, at least not altogether, that the Rebellions of 1837-38 opposed the English and the French. The Rebellions took place in both Lower and Upper Canada. Lower Canada’s Louis-Joseph Papineau and Upper Canada’s William Lyon Mackenzie did not want Britain to help itself to their money. Responsible government is what both Canadas, Upper and Lower (down the St. Lawrence river) wanted. Again, matters have been corrected.
However, the arrival in Lower Canada of United Empire Loyalists, people who fled the recently independent United States, was perturbing for the French-speaking citizens of Lower Canada. They had viewed Lower Canada as their Canada. A party was born, le Parti canadien, and its members, not all, referred to themselves as patriotes. Welcoming United Empire Loyalists was not a ploy aimed at hurting French-speaking Canadians. It was history unfolding and a change in demographics that did not benefit French-speaking Canadians.
We must differentiate the two events: the Rebellions and the arrival of United Empire Loyalists.
Les P’tits Canadas
Several of these United Empire Loyalists settled in the Eastern Townships. In the villages of the Eastern Townships, such as Cookshire, where my father was raised, French-speaking Canadians lived in p’tits Canadas. For a long time, they called themselves Canadiens, as in the “Canadiens” hockey club. Those who spoke English were les Anglais. Beginning with the Révolution tranquille, the 1960s, French-speaking Quebecers, started referring to themselves as Québécois/Québécoises.
Canadians & Quebecers/Québécois
But what is very frustrating is dealing with a double identity. Quebec is a Canadian province. No referendum has granted Quebec a mandate to separate from Canada. But it is doing so, bit by bit. Quebec has not signed the Constitution Act of 1982.
So, the health-card used by Quebecers is not valid outside Quebec. It does cover the cost of a stay in a hospital. However, if one needs to be treated by a specialist, during a stay in hospital, he or she will send you his or her bill. I realize that Education and Health are provincial legislation, but to what extent, may I ask. Moreover, I pay taxes to both the Federal Government and Revenue Quebec. I am a Canadian whether I live in Quebec or in Nova Scotia. Unilingualism may be a way of promoting autonomy for Quebec, but it may also chase people away from Quebec.
But it gets worse. I now live in an anti-immigration province. Marine Le Pen is happy that Quebecers have elected an anti-immigration Premier. When Marine endorsed monsieur Legault, Premier Legault dissociated himself immediately from Marine Le Pen. The fact remains that, for the next four years, the government of Quebec will be an anti-immigration government.
Then comes secularism, or laïcité. There is, of course, laïcité and laïcité. Under its new Caquiste government, laïcité in Quebec will not allow the wearing of clothes and jewellery that reveal one’s faith: no little cross worn as a pendant. No veil. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau quickly stated that women had the right to dress as they pleased. But Premier Legault plans to use the notwithstanding clause.
Quebec’s immigrants cannot break the law. The mutilation of female genitalia is forbidden in Canada, which includes Quebec. But forcing first generation immigrants from the Middle East to take off their veil may be imprudent. One must realize that first-generation immigrants are vulnerable. They have lost their country. Should they also feel unwanted? Canada has its first nations, its two founding nations, but people from all over the world live in this country and all of us must build the road to the future together, which means respecting differences. If we start building walls, we are lost.
I suspect that, during Premier Legault’s tenure, the parking fee will be higher. I also suspect the poor will be poorer and the rich, richer. We know that Monsieur Legault plans to give further autonomy to Quebec, which means, as mentioned above, that Quebec’s new Premier is unlikely to sign the Constitution Act of 1982, nor, for that matter, care for French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. He and his team will invest time and energy in providing greater autonomy for Quebec, which may lead to an exodus from Quebec. Quebec needs its immigrants and its taxpayers, but I dare not speak further…
Dr Couillard has resigned
Quebec had an excellent Premier, Dr Philippe Couillard. In no way did he and members of his cabinet deserve this slap in the face. Former Premier, Dr Couillard, will no longer lead Quebec’s Liberals.
Love to everyone 💕
I made some changes to my post. In an earlier version, I repeated myself (the Constitutional Act). Moreover I want to investigate Quebec’s unilingualism further. I don’t like it. It’s a danger to car drivers, it may be vindictive as well as impolite and petty. Yet, I am a former President of the Canadian Association of University and College Teachers of French: l’APFUCC (l’Association des professeurs de français des universités et collèges canadiens).
Léo Delibes: Lakmé – Duo des fleurs (Flower Duet), Sabine Devieilhe & Marianne Crebassa
© Micheline Walker
5 October 2018
updated 5 October 2018