— Pauline Marois. Nelson Wyatt, Canadian Press, Jun 21, 2012 8:18 AM ET (Photo credit: The National Post)
there are rules to everything…
President Obama is devoting so much energy to unite his country. He is fighting what Thomas Hobbes called a “private force” and viewed as “unlawfull.”
As you probably know, in Quebec, sovereignists and indépendantistes, initially called separatists are advocating secession from Canada and have done so since the 1960s. Pauline Marois is the leader of the Parti Québécois, the péquistes (PQ), as they are called, and, on 4 September 2012, she was elected Premier of the Province of Quebec. It was a narrow victory.
“A Quebec election that was too close to call has turned out to be just that: less than one percentage point – about 40,000 votes – separated the Parti Québécois [separatist]and the Liberal party [federalist] in the final ballot last night, with the third party Coalition Avenir Québec close behind.” (ANTONIA MAIONI, The Globe and Mail, Published Wednesday, Sep. 05 2012, 7:56 AM EDT. Last updated Wednesday, Sep. 05 2012, 7:59 AM EDT)
A Man Dies and a second man is critically injured.
Matters worsened. On the evening of 4 September 2012, as Madame Marois was preparing to celebrate her victory, 62-year-old Richard Henry Bain aimed at Madame Marois whose life was saved by 48-eight-year-old Denis Blanchette. However, the shooter killed Denis Blanchette and seriously injured a second man.
(please click on the picture to enlarge it)
July 22 (left), May 22 (up) and April 15 (center) demonstrations and Victoriaville riots (down). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At this point, I must step backward, as I need to tell about Madame Marois’ campaign.
Quebec students go on strike (February 13, 2012 – September 7, 2012)
The raise: (from $2,168 to $3,793 between 2012 and 2017)
In the spring of 2012, students enrolled in Quebec universities and CEGEPS[i] (numerically, Grades 12 & 13) started opposing a small raise in tuition fees (from $2,168 to $3,793 between 2012 and 2017 (Quebec student protests, Wikipedia). At that moment, tuition fees paid by Quebec students were approximately half the fees paid by my former students in Nova Scotia. The students’ demands were therefore unrealistic.
The movement was soon named Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE). Not only were the students’ demands unrealistic, but they organized increasingly disorderly demonstrations. It was “[t]he largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian History,” between 400,000 and 500,000 people marched in downtown Montreal on May 22.[ii]
“On June 12, 2012, some protesters were referring to local police authorities as SS and anti-police pamphlets using the swastikas were distributed.” (Quebec student protests, Wikipedia)
Madame Marois (Parti Québécois) steps in
Parti Québécois leader, Pauline Marois, stepped in and “supported” the students’ demands. She wore their symbol, a red square, and she became very visible. This won her a great deal of publicity. It would be my opinion that endorsing the students’ demands benefitted Madame Marois.
- The strike was problematical. For instance, it jeopardized the completion of an academic term.
- Therefore, on 18 May 2012, the National Assembly of Quebec passed Bill 78, an “Act to enable students to receive instruction from the postsecondary institutions they attend” (Bill 78, Wikipedia).
- On 27 August 2012, “[p]rotesters def[ied] back-to-school law as Quebec universities reopened]” (The Globe and Mail).
- On September 7, “planned tuition increases were repealed by a decree from Pauline Marois‘ Parti Québécois government the very next day” (CBC News).
Yet, on November 8, 2012, Madame Marois stated that free tuition was “very difficult” (see The Globe and Mail). (The students wanted free tuition.) Did she not know this in the Spring of 2012?
Province of Quebec, red; Canada, white
- The demonstrations were disorderly and had to be contained, which costs Premier Jean Charest’s government a fortune.
- There was opposition to Bill 78.
- In all likelihood, Madame Marois benefitted by involving the students. She seemed a concerned mother to students who were being abused by the Liberal Party, then in power.
- A man died in an attempt to protect Premier-elect Pauline Marois.
- Tuition fees. Can Madame Marois make ends meet?
Dissent and Faction
Madame Marois’ Parti Québécois is advocating “sovereignty” or separation from the other provinces of Canada, which means dissent or faction and is not insignificant. On the contrary! But, I wonder whether or not Madame Marois’ Parti Québécois and fellow sovereignists, or indépendantistes are fully aware of the consequences of a separation from Canada.
My Canada & a possible separation scenario
Canada is an officially bilingual country. It protects the French language. That could end for French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. The Federal Government might not agree to remain bilingual and bicultural.
There would be a country separating the Maritime Provinces of Canada from Ontario and the rest of Canada.
French-speaking veterans of World War II, who landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, would be very confused. They were serving their country, Canada.
There could be resentment between the two “countries.” Many Québécois would be dissatisfied, and there could be an exodus on the part of Anglophone Quebecers.
If there is an exodus, there would be fewer taxpayers.
And, to quote The Globe and Mail once again, “less than one percentage point – about 40,000 votes – separated the Parti Québécois and the Liberal party.”
But I would go further…
Past referendums have not supported separation from Canada. In other words, the people of Quebec have yet to agree to a separation from the rest of Canada.
- Yet, unlike my Nova Scotia health-insurance card, which was valid everywhere in Canada, including Quebec, my Quebec health-insurance card provides limited coverage outside Quebec.
- I pay taxes levied by the Quebec government (5%) and taxes levied by the Federal government (10%).
It would appear that the above is the price Québécois and Quebecers pay because Quebec failed to sign the Patriated Constitution of 1982. There is a substantial degree of duplication: a government inside a government. What I would like to know is whether or not Quebec’s government has been mandated to start walking away from Ottawa.
As for the manner in which Madame Marois was elected to the Premiership of Quebec, it has been described as “opportunistic” (The National Post, 21 June 2012)? There is nothing wrong with seizing the moment. However, the goal may defeat the means and the means defeat the goal. At any rate, Quebec now has its own flag day. I should be very pleased (Quebec creates its own flag day; Fleur-de-lis to be feted every Jan. 21 [timescolonist.com]).
There were deaths in the 1960s and, on 4 September 2012, Denis Blanchette was shot protecting Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois. Human life is fragile and so very precious. I’m certain Denis Blanchette’s life was dear to him and to his family and friends. So none of this is banal. If Quebec does want to secede from the rest of Canada, persons whose integrity and good will are above suspicion will have to negotiate acceptable terms.
However, what remains a mystery in my eyes is just why Quebec has not signed the long Patriated Constitution of Canada (1982). It has been 31 years since it arrived on the North-American side of the Atlantic. A referendum held in May 1980 did not allow Quebec to negotiate a new partnership with Ottawa. The indépendantistes were then named the Mouvement Souveraineté-Association, a “forerunner” of the Parti Québécois.
There are rules to everything…
© Micheline Walker
January 23, 2013
[i] Quebec students enter A CEGEP (Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel or General and Vocational College) after Grade 11 and, two years later, successful candidates obtain a Diploma of College Studies (Diplôme d’Études Collégiales). The Vocational program is a year longer.
[ii] Schonbek, Amelia (September 2012). “The Long March”. The Walrus: 15–16.
singer songwriter: Joni Mitchell (b. November 7, 1943)
title: “Both Sides Now”