AngryFrenchGuy

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

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. …sorry, forgot my point in the last post: it’s a good thing there are second chances in life…

    Anonymous

    July 16, 2008 at 3:56 pm

  2. Guys! It seems to me you are very old and grey hair guys who want to convince each other in the “useless important things” before you die. Believe me: separatism is bad and lousy thing. All separatists are bad. All of them: in Spain, in Italy, in Canada etc. Do not listen to their sweet tales. They are bad. Very much bad. When you talk to them like AFG they are friendly. When not – get FLQ and murders.

    ethic & money

    July 16, 2008 at 7:45 pm

  3. I believe that the major “improvement” with Quebec independence is that they would be several steps closer to make Quebec a truly French speaking place.
    In an independent Quebec, Canada won’t be able to make them keep the English speaker rights. There will be more freedom to pass more and stricter language laws.
    There have been promises that these rights would remain in an independent Quebec, but governments change, and so do their promises, so I wouldn’t count on them.

    Anonymous #5

    July 16, 2008 at 10:14 pm

  4. Funny I have the impression to reread the same thread over and over.

    Vive le Quebec Libre.

    quebecois separatiste

    July 16, 2008 at 10:14 pm

  5. Ethnic & Money: “Believe me: separatism is bad and lousy thing. All separatists are bad.”

    When you say “believe me”, are you speaking from experience? Would it be rude of me to ask where you come from? I’m assuming it’s one of those rare countries that was never in it’s entire history part of a larger political entity, where there was never a nationalist movement that sought to carve out a state for a part of that greater entity that had a common history that differed from the rest of the population. Wherever the place is, it is in the minority in the global community.

    The world decided long ago that under the right circumstances, it was perfectly legitimate for a distinct people to want a state of their own. The knee-jerk, all separatists are bad reaction is extremely outdated. The only question that matters is whether it is the will of those distinct peoples (and anyone living on the territories in question) to create an independant state.

    RoryBellows

    July 16, 2008 at 11:46 pm

  6. #5: “I believe that the major “improvement” with Quebec independence is that they would be several steps closer to make Quebec a truly French speaking place.
    In an independent Quebec, Canada won’t be able to make them keep the English speaker rights. There will be more freedom to pass more and stricter language laws.
    There have been promises that these rights would remain in an independent Quebec, but governments change, and so do their promises, so I wouldn’t count on them.”

    I do get the impression that this is kinda the knudge and wink, hidden message of the more linguistically orientated soverignists. The argument is made up of two seemingly contradictory points:

    -French will be strengthened in an independant Quebec.

    -Non-french speakers will not be negatively affected in any way.

    Is it possible? I don’t know. But to keep the discussion honest, we have to separate the rights of non-french speakers from the privileges granted to them. Before taking away those privileges, I’d ask 1- why do they exist 2- who, if anyone, would benefit from rescinding them?

    Funding for english schools or hospitals, access to government and legal services in english wouldn’t be rights in an independant Quebec until they were written into law. Until then (in an independant Quebec), they are fair and just privileges that are granted and revoking them would offer little benefit to the target group, in my opinion.

    Post-oui, rather than angrily demand that my rights be maintained, I would prefer to politely ask for the same kind of fair and just treatment that Canada has given (with many historical exceptions, but few in recent times) to it’s french speakers. If denied, I’ll “take my business elsewhere”, so to speak. I wouldn’t want to live somewhere where I had to strongarm my government for privileges that the population doesn’t want me to have.

    RoryBellows

    July 17, 2008 at 12:16 am

  7. Rorybellows:

    I tend to agree with your vision of things. Post-oui, not much if anything would change immediately, then things might being to very slowly erode. Sort of the like the proverbial frog that jumps out of the boiling water if you throw it in, but that you can boil to death by slowly increasing the temperature.

    Sorry for the crude analogy but it’s really true that people adapt more easily to change that comes gradually and that is not imposed suddenly and brutally.

    Just think about what is accepted today by Quebec’s anglo community leadership (and even francophone Liberals) and what their opinions were about French signs, schools, etc. in the early 1970s. Go back 100 years before that and you’ll find many anglos in Quebec viscerally opposed to seeing and hearing any French at all.

    The point is that attitudes evolve. Anglos in Quebec today are generally much more zen about the presence in French in their daily lives than they’ve ever been, and they would likely become even more zen (those who would stick around anyway) in the years after independence.

    I have seen this first-hand with the Franco-Ontarian community that I was once a part of. After being hostile to English (as the language of the oppressors, dominators and assimilators) for many generations, most are now rather accepting and resigned to the fact that the English language and culture are a big part of who they are. This non-confrontational (and even embracing) attitude may very well be leading them down the assimilation path as the depressing language transfer statistics usually show every census, but it sure makes for a happier existence than that of some of our Quebec angryphones constantly beating their heads against the wall.

    Acajack

    July 17, 2008 at 9:46 am

  8. “This non-confrontational (and even embracing) attitude may very well be leading them down the assimilation path as the depressing language transfer statistics usually show every census, but it sure makes for a happier existence than that of some of our Quebec angryphones constantly beating their heads against the wall.”

    Obviously some of those in Russel and Embrun dont seem to be part of this happy existence as of late.

    ABP

    ABP

    July 17, 2008 at 10:58 am

  9. There are of course exceptions to every rule. Even in Embrun, lots of francophones disagree with the bylaw (as we have discussed here before).

    By and large, having been part of the community for many years, I can tell you the vast majority of Franco-Ontarians are very relaxed about language matters and don’t even bat an eye at having to speak English on occasion to get served even at their local St-Hubert or Jean Coutu, or even at the beer tent of a St-Jean-Baptiste Day concert!

    Acajack

    July 17, 2008 at 11:26 am

  10. Thank you everyone for answering my question on how things will be better/different in (in a practical way) an independent Quebec. This is my summary of what has been written:
    -economically/financially: too hard to say
    -French tests for student in English universities
    -French tests for naturalization
    -Slowly, more and more rights will be taken away from Anglos
    -stricter language laws

    With all due respect, I still do not see how this will change the lives of the majority of the population. The above all seem to relate to imposing more regulation with respect to language.

    If anyone has a better grasp of the legal situation of English language education can you answer me the following 2 questions:
    -I believe that the requirement to provide English education in Quebec is governed by the Quebec Education Act. Does an “act” require 2/3 majority to overturn it, or is it like any other “garden-variety” law that a government could change?
    -If the Quebec Education Act is provincial legislation and not federal, would it not automatically remain an Act in an independent Quebec and have the same requirements to overturn it as it does now?

    Anonymous

    July 17, 2008 at 11:45 am

  11. The guarantees to English education in Quebec are actually contained in section 23 of the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982:

    http://lois.justice.gc.ca/en/const/annex_e.html#education

    Acajack

    July 17, 2008 at 11:56 am

  12. After reading the Constitution, it would appear that although on the whole the Constitution can only be amended with the consent of 2/3 of the provinces representing at least 50% of the population, a change in English education rights in Quebec could be made with the consent of just the federal Parliament and Quebec’s National Assembly.

    The Constitution Act of 1982 is the highest law of the land. Other pieces of legislation, including Quebec’s Education Act and Charter of the French Language (Bill 101) also make reference to English-language education. Both these acts (including Bill 101, in spite of its “Charter” moniker) can be changed by a majority vote of Quebec’s National Assembly.

    In writing this, I now recall that Jacques Parizeau once said that on Day 1 of the existence of a sovereign Quebec the National Assembly would declare that all existing Canadian laws are still in effect in Quebec until further notice.

    Acajack

    July 17, 2008 at 12:15 pm

  13. “By and large, having been part of the community for many years, I can tell you the vast majority of Franco-Ontarians are very relaxed about language matters and don’t even bat an eye at having to speak English on occasion to get served even at their local St-Hubert or Jean Coutu, or even at the beer tent of a St-Jean-Baptiste Day concert!”

    This is how it should be on both sides (anglo and franco) and I am glad to hear what you report :):)

    ABP

    ABP

    July 17, 2008 at 1:04 pm

  14. Acajack,

    Thanks for the link on the constitution. Am I understanding sub-section 3 correctly that minority language education only needs to be available only where there are “sufficient” number of children and funds? This is de facto the case in Quebec where English schools can be very far apart (similar to French schools in parts of the ROC), but contradicts AFG, who has been saying that English language education is guaranteed on the whole of Quebec’s territory.

    Anonymous

    July 17, 2008 at 1:31 pm

  15. Yes, this is true according to the law. But in practice there are English schools all across Quebec even in areas where (in theory at least) you would not expect them to be. So places with very low (virtually non-existent in some cases) anglo populations all have their English schools. Think of Baie-Comeau, Port-Cartier, Rouyn-Noranda, Shawinigan, Jonquière, La Tuque, etc.

    These English schools are generally the institutional descendants of the education system built decades ago for the children of the anglophone managers that ran mills and factories in what were then company towns.

    Today, the vast majority of kids in these schools would be from French-speaking homes but whose parents themselves went to school in English in their youth and can therefore get around the Bill 101 provisions.

    In stark contrast to this, most of the francophone schools in the ROC (in areas not historically populated by francophones ranging from Kingston, Ontario to Calgary, Alberta and beyond) are fairly recent implantations.

    Acajack

    July 17, 2008 at 1:48 pm

  16. Acajack,

    I actually attended one of the schools on your list so I can say that a fair number of the students had at least one anglo parent although not the typical anglos you think of: they were people from the US, Ontario, immigrants whose first language was English. The one thing about these schools though, is that nearly everyone of the students is perfectly bilingual. Not a tragedy in my mind…

    Still, AFG is wrong that there is guarantee on the whole of Quebec’s territory. Having schools everywhere and having a guarantee are not the same thing. It is a lot more difficult to close a school a than to build a new one so they might still survive for a long time.

    Anonymous

    July 17, 2008 at 2:17 pm

  17. “I actually attended one of the schools on your list so I can say that a fair number of the students had at least one anglo parent”

    Sorry, I should have referred to kids who speak French at home.

    I too expect the English schools in Quebec to survive for a long time.

    I found this interesting study:

    Click to access Education%20report.pdf

    Table 16 is particularly evocative, and shows how francophone kids outnumber anglo kids in English schools in many regions of Quebec.

    Acajack

    July 17, 2008 at 3:07 pm

  18. “Table 16 is particularly evocative, and shows how francophone kids outnumber anglo kids in English schools in many regions of Quebec.”

    What makes the table provocative? It seems that it is a natural consequence of a couple of other trends mentioned in the report, namely the anglo exodus to the ROC and more intermarriages.

    The intermarriages are actually interesting. Does it not suggest that anglos and francos coexist without any particular problems?

    Acajack, a few posts back, you bemoaned the fact francos in the ROC are getting assimilated. Given the statistics in this document, it seems anglos are disappearing, at least in the ROQ. Do you view this as similarly depressing?

    Anonymous

    July 18, 2008 at 5:49 am

  19. “What makes the table provocative?”

    Note that I said “evocative”, not “provocative”. It’s not the same thing at all.

    Regarding the slow disappearance of anglos in Quebec outside Montreal (although I sense they’re poised to make a big comeback in a few areas), yes I think it’s sad to see these communities die out in areas where they have historical roots, but one should note that it’s not the same situation at all. About 40% of francophones outside Quebec have abandoned French in favour of English as their main language (in some provinces it’s higher than 70%), whereas only 10% of anglophones in Quebec have replaced their native English language with French.

    The biggest threat to Quebec’s anglo community is not assimilation, but rather outmigration. On the other hand, francophones outside Quebec are generally staying put, but are being assimilated to English “on site” because of a variety of factors.

    Acajack

    July 18, 2008 at 7:31 am

  20. “although I sense they’re poised to make a big comeback in a few areas” who, where, why, how?

    Dave

    July 18, 2008 at 8:13 am

  21. It’s just a feeling based on superficial observations, but here goes:

    – the Outaouais (both urban and rural), because of its proximity to Ottawa

    – the Laurentians and the Eastern Townships, as prime, picturesque, cheaper-than-Ontario-cottage-country retirement areas still close to Montreal and, in the case of the Townships, a “back-to-family roots” thing for some people spread out across North America

    – Quebec City, for the sheer beauty of the place, and which is slowly being rediscovered by the ROC and after being overlooked for so long, isincreasingly taking its rightful place as Canada’s 7th largest city.

    I am not talking about huge influxes of people, but after a long period where Quebec was pretty much a “no-go” zone for people from the ROC, it is now considered as a potential place to live by *more* anglophones than before. People are realizing that all in all Quebecers are pretty cool, and that in many cases you don’t have to speak that much French (if at all) to get by even if you are largely surrounded by francophones. Plus, the dominant conventional wisdom in the ROC seems to be that separatism is dead as a doornail, so that takes away another fear factor.

    Acajack

    July 18, 2008 at 8:52 am

  22. Acajack,

    I think you points are very valid as to why you think there might be a rise in Anglos in Quebec.

    The real estate is a bargain, especially in the Laurentides as I discovered just a short time ago. I doubt you would see many Westerners relocate as it would take them away from their families, but certainly a great deal of Ontarions might find the cost of living and prices a good enough deal to move to Quebec. The distance is not great from Ottawa or even Toronto to Quebec.

    I discusse this with a young engineer who is from Quebec and lives in Edmonton, as to if he would ever think of returning to Quebec. His comment, was, that he didnt think so as his life and activities were now centered in Alberta. Married to a Western lady as well.

    One of the largest issues was of course the separation issue which as you have said, is viewed as dead as a doornail in the ROC…Actually, I think this is likely the case in Quebec as well from the polls I have seen as of late. Or course this can change as it has in the past.

    I was dismayed to see an element of the people in Quebec being so critical of the McCartney concert coming up this weekend on grounds that the band is essentially Anglo and it might bring back memories of the battle on the plains of Abraham.. Good thing Sir Paul is a level headed man….other artists may have taken a very different course of action with this criticism.

    ABP

    ABP

    July 18, 2008 at 10:13 am

  23. “Note that I said “evocative”, not “provocative”. It’s not the same thing at all.”

    Sorry, I misread that.

    With respect to anglos coming to Quebec, the only anecdote I can offer is from a guy who went to an English high school in Lennoxville in the early-mid 90’s. He said that every single one of the people he grew up with and went to school with has left the Estrie and that enrollment in the region English schools has been on a down trend.

    With respect to “main language”, I am not sure what that means. Does that mean that people can still speak the other language, even fluently?

    Anonymous

    July 18, 2008 at 11:37 am

  24. What I should have said is “home language”. Now I realize that in some exceptional cases a Franco-Ontarian who speaks English at home with a spouse could also work all day teaching at a francophone high school in Sudbury, or at the Radio-Canada station in Windsor… But for the most part if you’re living in Ontario and not speaking French around the dinner table, chances are you’re almost never speaking French at all.

    Statistics Canada compares “mother tongue” vs. “home language” in order to measure language transfers between groups. (It doesn’t just do this for francos and anglos, but for immigrants as well.) It’s not a perfect indicator (they rarely are) because of some exceptions like the ones I mentioned, but it has nonetheless been proven that the language used in the home between the parents and between parents and their children almost always ends up being the kids’ main language when they grow up, and hence a determinant of whether they will consider themselves francophones or anglophones.

    Acajack

    July 18, 2008 at 12:25 pm

  25. Well those numbers on intermarriages struck me as interesting. If francos, anglos and allos are marrying each other at ever higher proportions, then we are getting along pretty well. I mean what is a better indication that we are integrating “with each other” than the fact that we are marrying each other?

    Anonymous

    July 18, 2008 at 1:13 pm

  26. We allos can marry anglos, but never francos

    ethnic and money

    July 18, 2008 at 9:18 pm

  27. Ethnic and money, what is your ethnic background? I have a feeling mine isn’t too different from yours.

    Anonymous

    July 19, 2008 at 11:42 am

  28. You are clearly not well-versed in our land’s laws down south. Your Bill 101 would never be allowed to exist in our country. Our constitution is our bible and there’s no way anyone’s right to freedom of expression would be suspended in that manner, especially a private business. One court case and it would be thrown out…and it would only take one citizen to launch it. The only reason you have those laws is because Canada does not have the courage to do anything about it. Perhaps you should be more grateful to Canada, because here in the US, you wouldn’t get away with half the crap you’re pulling.

    And yes, we don’t have an official language, although English is spoken widely. We don’t consider language a cultural element; just a form of communication. Our customs and traditions define us (inherited from many generations), not what language we speak, how we communicate with one another. If we all started speaking Spanish tomorrow, would it really matter? We’d still be who we are, just speak a different language. So what. Your hysteria up there over a communication tool is something that we find amusing at best.

    I’m not sure if this post was written with ignorance or arrogance…Perhaps both… At the very least, learn a little more about my country’s laws, or do some proper research before writing this type of post. But the way you’ve written it…it clearly speaks of a pompous attitude, as though the other hundreds of millions of citizens in the U.S would allow the Quebecers to bully them, and try to pass laws that would go above and beyond our constitution. I would love to see one of your language ‘officers’ show up to harrass a private business down here about what language should and should not be on the commercial signs. His ass would get kicked into the next world…both by the owner of the business, and in the courtroom. Never mind the media that would jump on it.

    Do yourself (and us) a favor. Stay in Canada where they allow you to get away with that type of crap. Please.

    John

    July 20, 2008 at 8:38 am

  29. Read up, Johnny. There are many many laws in the US that that go way over and beyond any Québec legislation. There is a federal law that says truck drivers, individual private citizens, can be fined and lose their livelyhood if they don’t speak English well enough. The US does not not give it’s minorities a fraction of the education rights Québec gives it’s minorities. No linguistic minorities have the right to trials in their language the way minorities in Québec do. There are no laws in Québec that make it illegal for the governement to communicate with it’s citizens in other languages like there is in Iowa.

    So how did English become so prevalent in the US? Take Pennsylvannia, where German settlers were nearly as numerous as the British: “All that seems necessary is to distribute them more equally, mix them with the English, establish English schools where they are now to thick settled(…)” dixit Benjamin Franklin. Mr. Franklin also arranged that only the English language would be allowed in the Pennsylvania legislature. Québec, FYI, allows English in it’s legislature.

    So what you are saying, john is that it is OK for the US to legislate in favour of english but not for Québec to protect it’s own culture? Care to explain this neighbour?

    angryfrenchguy

    July 20, 2008 at 10:08 am

  30. I am certainly no expert on the history of Quebec’s language laws. But I find it hard to believe that all of these “minority rights” that nationalists tout were supported by them at the beginning. Rather, I get the impression that they were dragged kicking and screaming and now say, “See how many rights we give ou linguistic minorities!”

    It reminds me of a libertarian who wrote a book on all of the progress in America living standards since 1900. He was actually trying to prove that unfettered capitalism was the way to go. But he kept talking about how the air was cleaner and products were safer. He was inadvertantly making the case for government regulation.

    If I’m incorrect, by all means set me straight. But I don’t get the impression that nationalists, left to their own devices, would be nearly as generous.

    Roger

    July 20, 2008 at 11:19 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: