The Other Option. Think Big.

with 220 comments

What if Québec joined the United States of America as the 51st état?

One of the very few argument for Canadian federalism that actually has any effect on me is the fact that out of Canada, Québec would lose it’s shared position in some more prestigious international forums, notably the G8.

You have to admit that the sight of a country lawyer from Shawinigan hanging out with Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair does make you think twice about trading that seat for the satisfaction of having one of our guys between Quatar and South Korea at the UN.

But if you use that logic, why should Québec satisfy itself with being part of Canada. Why not join the United States?

If Québec is not to become an independent country and if it is to remain a part of a federation, why not join a real one? If you’re a small people destined to be a minority in any political or economic structure, then why not go Major League?

Why vote for the government of a pretend country if you can vote for the real thing? Why send our guys to Ottawa if we could send them to Washington?

The 49th parallel is not real, it’s a fictional line in the sand. In any case the 49th parallel is not even the border between Québec and the US. Nobody actually knows where that border is since most markers were swallowed by the forest years ago.

The economic frontier between the Québec and the US is a just as much of a myth and it ceased to represent anything real since way before NAFTA. Close to half of Canada’s economy is foreign-owned. That’s not a disaster, it’s globalization.

The disaster is pretending the Canadian government can do anything about it. Remember the softwood lumber crisis? It took the Canadian government years to achieve a barely face-saving deal. How long do you think it would have taken to resolve it if Québec had 15 electoral college votes in its pocket?

An État du Québec would be the 12th largest state in the Union, right between New Jersey and Virginia. That means about 12 House seats and 2 almighty senate seats. A real elected senate.  A single US senator has about the power of the entire canadian senate plus the provincial legislatures of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and PEI combined.

As it is the Canadian government doesn’t even have enough pull to get a 15 year old kid soldier arrested for throwing a grenade at American soldiers out of jail. If Omar Kahdr had been an American citizen he would never have been in Guantanamo in the first place. The American government didn’t send it’s citizens to Guantanamo.

Actually, if the 7 million Québécois had voted in the 2000 presidential election there would have been no president Bush, no Irak war, no Guantanamo.

Get Québec in the United States. Save the world.

Of course, Québec would have to make some compromises. The American Federal government will not make French an official language all over the US, but since Canadian Official Billingualism is not much more than Welcome/Bienvenue signs outside Québec, it wouldn’t actually be a huge change.

In the US French would not be an official language at all, but then English is not an official language either. Equality at last!

At the provincial – I mean State – level, Québec could keep pretty much the same linguistic regime. There are already 27 states that have made English their official language, Québec would keep French as its official language.

And as a bonus it would be relieved of the appalling constitutional obligation to “promote and protect” the language of it’s English-speaking “minority”.

Joining the US would not be a huge deal for most Québécois in terms of their culture. Not being American is not a central part of our identity the way it is in the Rest of Canada. Feelings and attitudes toward the US change over time but beyond opposition to specific issues like the Irak war, there is not the same type of self-righteous contempt towards the Americans that is very common in other parts of Canada.

Many Americans would welcome Québec into the union with enthouisasm. Hey, seven million Québec votes could actually be just enough to tip the political scale to the the progressive side of issues in the States. The Québécois support the right to choose and universal health care. God knows how strongly we feel about keeping him out of schools.

Québec might be to the left of the American political spectrum (although not quite as far left as it’s neighbor Vermont), it would probably not have such a hard time finding common ground with the boys down south. They certainly wouldn’t have anything against fellow former secessionists joining them in the fight for state rights and the struggle to keep the Federal government out of local affairs.

In fact, I suspect a few of les gars up here would not be against the concept of a constitutionally protected right to form armed militias..

Speaking of minorities, the admissions of French-speaking Americans in the Union can only help the political empowerment of the new linguistic and cultural reality of the United States that is already very real on the ground. American Hispanics will no doubt welcome the arrival of los Latinos del Norte as allies in the struggle for greater linguistic and cultural diversity in the US.

Québec joining the United States could be a good thing not only for Le Bel État, but also for the US and even the whole world! And even MORE important, it would mean -oh yes!- federal funding for the Québec Interstate, from Val-d’Or to Gaspé! (Of course that would technically mean raising the drinking age to 21, but when have people in Québec ever payed mind to drinking laws?)

Happy 4th of July!

Written by angryfrenchguy

July 4, 2008 at 10:41 am

220 Responses

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  1. The reason why American citizens were not sent to Guantanamo, is because they were secreted directly to Leavenworth.


    July 20, 2008 at 12:55 pm

  2. Y’all are free to have impressions and indulge in your wildest political-fiction fantasies of what a world would look like without – God forbid – the benevolent white Anglo watching over all foreigners, but the reality is Québec gives it’s minorities more rights than the US, Canada or pretty much any other Western nation.
    Some talk the talk. Others walks the walk.


    July 20, 2008 at 1:14 pm

  3. I’m just saying that these Quebec nationalists who are soooo generous in what they’ve “granted” linguistic minorities have, in reality, fought this progress every step of the way.

    Now they say “We were with you the whole time!”


    July 20, 2008 at 1:36 pm

  4. AFG,

    Just what minority rights are these? Schools? Hospitals? Just remember that in the not too distant past, some of these minorities were not allowed to use francophone/catholic institutions. What would have immigrant children done if there were no English schools in the 1950’s??

    Now, the past is the past and we are in the present now. But there is a difference between opening a new Jewish hospital today and having one that was built in a period when Jews perhaps did not have the same access to health care as Christians. So you can say it is a “right” to have a Jewish hospital, but it was built not because it was a privilege granted to them, but out of necessity.


    July 20, 2008 at 1:49 pm

  5. “I’m just saying that these Quebec nationalists who are soooo generous in what they’ve “granted” linguistic minorities have, in reality, fought this progress every step of the way.”

    Just like the Gazette and other anglo media fought the protection of any rights for French-speakers until they decided after 25 years that bill 101 was a compromise that preserved linguitic peace?

    FYI, protection for Québec’s English minority institutions have been in Bill 101 since the first draft.


    July 20, 2008 at 4:58 pm

  6. Good for you AFG. A reasoned response to my point rather than an incoherent conspiratorial rant.

    And Canadian anglophones being hypocritical? Well I’m shocked…just…shocked!

    The truth is Galagonov types and Quebec nationalists have much more in common than either side would like to believe.

    In any case, lets all agree that this drama needs to stay in Canada — or an independent Quebec — where it belongs.


    July 20, 2008 at 5:23 pm

  7. “I’m just saying that these Quebec nationalists who are soooo generous in what they’ve “granted” linguistic minorities have, in reality, fought this progress every step of the way.
    Now they say “We were with you the whole time!”

    Truth is, most anglo institutions in Quebec weren’t originally put in place as “privileges” for the minority. They were put in place as building blocks for what was to be the future societal foundation of Quebec – the English-language institutions were everyone in Quebec, francophones included, was expected to converge once that pesky French language problem was out the way.

    If you look back historically, Quebec in 18th and 19th century North America wasn’t unique like it is today. Plenty of areas of the continent (north of the Rio Grande let’s say) had substantial non-anglo populations with a rudimentary society and all of its trappings emerging around them.

    So no one setting up these institutions such as McGill or Bishop’s universities or the Montreal General Hospital would have ever in their wildest dreams (or nightmares) imagined that in 2008 these would still be “minority” institutions in an overwhelmingly French-speaking province.

    Things weren’t supposed to turn out this way. And for the most part, in the United States and Canada, they didn’t. Except for Quebec.

    If Quebec’s francophone majority has any congratulations to receive for any generosity at all, it’s for not switching all of these institutions over to French when things started getting hot politically in the 60s and 70s.

    Now before someone screams out at this suggestion, let me just say that it wouldn’t have been the first time this was done. In fact, that’s pretty much always how it’s been done: “Sure you’ve been (insert language and culture) forever, but from now on this how it’s gonna be. Sorry. No choice.”

    If you don’t believe me, look at how many institutions in Western Canada (that were built by and for francophones) were anglicized by government fiat in the late 1800s and early 1900s in the name of social cohesion. Behind many a Holy Cross Hospital and St. Mary’s School is the ghost of an Hôpital Ste-Croix and an École Ste-Marie.


    July 20, 2008 at 8:18 pm

  8. Before thinking joining the U.S. is a good thing, it’s best to look at the situation of linguistic minorities in the U.S.
    The Cajuns are not exactly on top of the economic/social heap in Louisiana.

    Hispanics, ( “Mexican-Americans” are only one part- the term would include Californios and New Mexicans as well as immigrants from Latin/South America), aren’t too well treated either.

    Had Quebec become part of the U.S. in the 19th century, it probably would have had the fate of California and Texas where Spanish speakers lost their property, livelihood, and the right to have Spanish as a language for legal purposes as well as education etc; ( My step-father, who is Mexican-American,( family roots from before 1836), has memories of being forbidden to speak Spanish in school and in public spaces). It might have ended up like Louisiana where the Cajuns live in the outerlands.


    August 1, 2008 at 10:42 am

  9. I would say Montreal would be your best bet seeing you speak both French and English. Toronto and Vancouver are prdaeminetoly English while Quebec City is prdaeminetoly French. Montreal is a mostly bilingual city with always plenty to do for all ages. Montreal has more festivals than any city I know of with many free events. No sooner one ends, another begins with many others overlapping. It is a cosmopolitan city with an European accent. At Place Jacques Cartier in Old Montreal you will find the buskers (street artists) and street vendors. The Old Port section of Old Montreal also has plenty activities for the young and not so young. There are boat excursions, white water rafting, a beautiful park, a science center, a IMAX theater, etc. From the Old Port you can watch the International Fireworks Competition every Saturday evening until August 14th. For the children there is Laronde a Six Flags amusement park. The facility, which opened as part of Expo ’67 (Montreal’s World Fair), today offers some 40 rides and attractions and not too far away there is the Montreal Casino. About an hours drive away (towards the USA border) is Granby Zoo which also has a water-park included in the price of admission. Montreal is also home to several circuses one of which is the world-famous Cirque du Soleil. The list goes on and on.


    January 19, 2013 at 10:27 am

  10. Not just because I love all my In-Laws from the Laurentides, Montreal and the rest of Quebec I just want to be the first to say……………….I would love to trade our U.S. capital Washington with the District of Columbia to Canada in exchange for Quebec. Then maybe make Montreal the new capital as a show of unity and to celebrate our more perfect Union. :)

    Brandon J. Li

    September 9, 2016 at 3:01 pm

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