Monday, March 10, 2014

Quebec - back to the brink

I'm originally from Quebec, as is my wife. We left for greener pastures 17 years ago in the wake of a second referendum on whether the province should separate from Canada. We figured life was too short to spend it arguing endlessly over language. And we wanted to raise our kids where being raised in an English home didn't make you an outsider.

Last week brought news that Quebecers will be going to the polls April 7th to decide whether the current minority provincial government, led by the sovereignist Pauline Marois and her Parti Quebecois, deserves to be voted back in or tossed to the curb.

As before, renewed speculation over whether a majority win by the PQ would lead to a third referendum has inflamed debate over whether it might make more sense to focus limited government resources on things like job creation, education and health care. As before, Quebec's priorities seem to skew more toward forcing small business owners to communicate in French on their Facebook pages, and drafting a so-called "Charter of Values" that bans public sector workers from wearing or exhibiting any outward sign of religion.

So no hijab-wearing doctors or kippah-toting lawyers in this most unique of societies. But the cross in the National Assembly would be exempted...just because.

To the uninitiated, I can understand why it might seem a little ridiculous. To those who live with it day-to-day, I can understand why this has now become another critical moment in Quebec - and Canadian - history. The future of our country once again hangs in the balance, and social media is crackling with debate back and forth as the warring parties dig in for a pivotal battle.

It brings me back to something I wrote in September 2012, when Ms. Marois was first elected. And on reflection, what I wrote then seems just as true today. In the interest of historical context, here it is:
Quebec: Once again, the dark side beckons
Your turn: Thoughts?

1 comment:

Jeremiah Andrews said...

With the introduction of P.K.P. into the fray, and his cries of "Quebec a nation for my children," the election drama gets deeper.

I've been living in Quebec for now 13 years. I live in English Montreal, I went to Concordia and I work in English Montreal. I have little concern for the P.Q. or its zeal for separation/xenophobia.

When I first moved here I had an unfortunate encounter with a Francophone who spit at me in a grocery store. I swore from that day on that I would never integrate.

Many would think that the P.Q. coming into majority power will mean the end of the Anglophone community, it might. But I cannot in good conscience flee the province because of my work. The English community and the other minority communities need someone in their corner if the P.Q. gain a majority.

One day this generation of hot headed separatists will die, and it will be up to their children to either carry their torch or to move towards total inclusion and not exclusion by minority or religion.

If at all possible the English community is being rallied together - we all may not support the Liberals, but a vote for any other is a guarantee that the P.Q. will win the election with a majority and heaven help the rest of us.

Jeremy in Montreal.