Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Confessions of a New Separatist

Let me just come right out and say it:

I have decided to become a Quebec separatist.

Some people may find this a bit odd, since I don't live in Quebec and don’t speak French. I can, however, envision a day when Quebec and Canada are separate nations. So, the way I see it, that makes me a separatist. Or at least an honourary separatist. Yep. If there was a University of Separatism, I'd get an honourary degree. Vive le Quebec libre.

I know. I know. It sounds irrational. After all, my ancestors whipped French butt on the Plains of Abraham for the right to control the land now occupied by the province of Quebec. And now, here I am, talking about just giving it up completely. I certainly mean no disrespect to the fine English soldiers who gave their lives so Queen Elizabeth’s face could be on our money, but a lot has changed since then. We may have won the war, but we have, over time, lost our country. And it’s time we faced facts - Quebec runs Canada.

I have come to the sad conclusion that, if Anglophones are to ever have fair representation in our government, there will have to be a serious realignment of power within our nation. Either that, or we should just shake hands with Quebec and let it go its own way. We could then get on with building a Canada without Quebec. A Canada that would certainly be much more culturally stable and cohesive than it is today. A Canada where power could be more equitably distributed among the provinces. This is something that we really need to talk about. After all, we can deal with this issue now, head-on with our eyes open, or we can wait to be blindsided by the separatists when they force their next referendum. And there will be a next one. It's only a matter of time.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first referendum, in 1980. I remember the villain, the leader of the separatist forces - Rene Levesque – with his piercing eyes and that permanent cloud of cigarette smoke that hung around him like a shroud. He was an intense character. And he meant business.

And then there was our hero - Pierre Elliot Trudeau. The defender of Canada. Or at least, the defender of a Canada run by Quebec. Charismatic, charming and intellectually deft. A man capable of astounding political dexterity. He could give the finger to Western Canada with one hand, hug Fidel Castro with the other while simultaneously destroying our Army, invoking crippling taxes and racking up a huge national debt. What a showman. And boy did we love him. The fools that we were.

I remember reading somewhere that Trudeau, when faced with the prospect of Quebec separating, had said something like: Why should Quebec separate and be master of its own destiny when it can stay in Canada and be master of the entire nation.? Personally, I doubt that he said this. I do not, however, doubt that he believed it. After all, Trudeau is the godfather of bilingualism. A concept that has assured french domination - in our government and in our bureaucracy. However, one thing is certain: truer sentiments have never been expressed. Quebec has become the master of Canada.

So we had our referendum. And, despite my love for Canada, I felt a slight sense of loss when the separatists lost. Even as a young man of 20, I somehow understood in my heart that it’s better to rip a bandage off and feel momentary pain than to pull it off slowly, little by little and spread the pain over an eternity.

In 1995, there was a second referendum and Quebecers again voted to stay in Canada, this time with a paper thin victory of less than one percent. Imagine, more than 49 percent of Quebec voters wanted to separate. And through it all, despite begging and pleading for Quebec to stay, Canadians continued to be subjected to dissent, distrust, disregard and disrespect from its favoured province. Untold $billions of our taxes have flowed to Quebec. In return they continue to elect separatists to represent them in our parliament. $Billions more have been spent to fund bilingualism across the country. Meanwhile, in Quebec, they have created a monolingual Francophone state where non-Francophones are regularly picked on and discriminated against by the Quebec government. The imbalance is astounding.

Clearly, Canada’s love affair with Quebec has become an unfortunate, one-sided master/slave relationship. Quebec makes demands and Canada struggles to deal with them, while never making any demands in return. They demand more autonomy. They demand more control. They demand a lot of things. One thing they don’t demand, though, is the responsibility to pay their own way. Even today, billions of dollars a year are transferred from the taxpayers of Ontario and Alberta into Quebec. And still Quebec wants more. Meanwhile, the people in the rest of Canada just roll their eyes and, like all good Canadians, hold their tongues. After all, they’re used to being Quebec’s sugar daddy. It’s all worth it to keep the country together. Isn’t it? After all, we couldn’t possible make it without Quebec. Could we?

Well, maybe we could. In fact, if we have a shred of pride and self respect we should stop being docile doormats to the dissidents and disgruntled separatists in Quebec and start planning for a possible future without them. They are likely going to separate anyway eventually, so why shouldn’t we be in control for once. Just for once.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like today if Quebec had voted to separate in 1980. Most if not all of the legalities and formalities would be ironed out by now. The contracts and treaties would be signed. We would be two sovereign states, most likely with an open border policy. And with Quebec gone from Canada, there would have been no advertising scandal, no billions in grants to Bombardier, no further referendums, no snide, mouthy separatists sitting in our House of Commons, and no endless demands for more of our money. Haven’t we already heard enough of their demands to last us a thousand lifetimes?

Of course the best part is that, if Quebec had separated in 1980, we would not have had to live through that endless parade of arrogant crooks and pompous twits from Quebec who have been running our nation. For decades now, Quebecers have held most of the powerful senior political and bureaucratic positions in numbers way out of proportion to their percentage of Canada’s population. In fact, a Quebecer has been Prime Minister for 35 of the last 37 years. If that isn't tyranny by coercion, I don't know what is. I wasn't kidding when I said that Quebec runs Canada. And we mustn’t forget the most recent architects of our misery, Chrétien and Mulroney, who, as Quebecers, would not have risen to political power in our nation. Imagine, a Canada without a history blighted by those scoundrels.

Whatever the case, one thing is for certain: there will be more corruption, more shenanigans, more demands for concessions and many more Quebec scoundrels running around Ottawa controlling our destiny unless something changes. And despite my rhetoric, I still harbour a faint hope that Quebec could somehow learn to coexist with us in Canada as an equal partner, with a proportional share of power and influence. Because, if it cannot, something is definitely going to give and there will be a parting of the ways between Canada’s two founding cultures. And if that happens, the separatists will win. That’s why I’ve become one of them, for now at least. After all, nobody wants to back a loser.


Blogger Observer said...


I have read this and some of your other articles. I share many of your views and opinions. You are a prolific and interesting writer.

Thank you.

9:35 PM  
Blogger dave said...

Pierre Elliot Trudeau DID say: "French Quebec never wanted democracy for itself, and the English never wanted it for anybody else." (Well- guess what!)

5:42 PM  

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