Could a People that Can’t Build a Highway Ever Build a Country?
I believe Québec should be an independent country. I’m convinced. I’ve thought about it long and hard. I’ve discussed it through and through, with both true believers and fierce opponents. I’ve pondered the implications from a bar stool in an NDG tavern, in a yurt near Ulan Baator, and perhaps most significantly, walking down Sniper Alley in Sarajevo. Every time I’ve come to the conclusion that, as long as it is done right, it is the most simple and elegant solution to many political and cultural challenges Québec faces.
Robert Lepage, one of the most famous playwrights and scenographers in the world, was on TV the other day. This is not a nationalist firebrand. He was reminiscing about how he grew up sharing a room in Québec City with his adopted English-speaking brother and how he has nothing but admiration for English-Canada, one of the great small L liberal societies. He then casually mentioned that he was a sovereigntist, notheless. He’s reached the same conclusion I have. I’m on the good side, I thought.
Then Guy A. Lepage, once Québec’s most merciless social critic and a man who is not known to have much patience for fools—although he’s now a much nicer man as host of Tout le Monde en Parle on Radio-Canada—agreed to MC Québec’s Fête Nationale this summer. He is also a sovereigntist. I thought, if he thinks Québec’s independence movement is for real, I’m not being taken for a ride.
Then Pauline Marois, the leader of the Parti québécois, unveiled the grand master plan that will take us from here to there, the roadmap independence and I thought, that’s it. I’m done. I’m moving to Toronto.
What’s wrong with these people, tabarnak? How can they take a project that inspires even our most inspired men and just turn it into 10 kinds of frustration? Why does building a country, a hospital, a goddam highway, have to always become the most complicated and aggravating project in the history of human society?
We’re here! According the the latest PQ internal poll, quoted in le Devoir, 49% of the Québécois, including 56% of those who speak French, are game! Sixty-one percent would settle for some sort of sovereignty-association deal with Canada. Two thirds at least want Québec to have a special status.
Even if those numbers are somewhat more positive than others we’ve seen recently, the trend is solid: even in this period of economic uncertainty, support for independence hovers in the high thirties to high forties.
The Conservative Party of Canada was barely able to keep up the « federalism of openess » charade a year and a half before breaking out into anti-separatist demonstrations and the more familiar calls to pacify the French with some « tough love ».
The new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada has already announced that Canada was as good as it was going to get!
The sovereignty movement has it made. There is only a few thousand votes separating them from the country. Canadian federalists have no counter offer, no vision, no dream. Canada in the country of No. The Parti québécois is the Parti of Oui. Yes we can!
Yet, they can’t.
The PQ has all this positive and entrepreneurial energy just sitting on it’s lap, waiting, itching to start building something, anything. What do they do? Do they open up the phones, start compiling projects until there is just so many fucking cool things to do that Québec will just pop out of Canada by itself?
Nope. The PQ wants to talk about shit that don’t work. Their great plan is to ask for federal powers they know they can’t get and threaten their own supporters with multiple referendums on boring ass crap like « single tax returns » just so they can pick a fight with Ottawa because, as Jacques Parizeau candidly admitted on tuesday: « To acheive sovereingty, you need a crisis. »
The PQ is stuck in a procedural dead end, wasting it’s energy on finding a gimmick instead of thinking about the way that country would work and what we could do with it.
That is the reason why the PQ usually trails it’s own raison d’être in the polls. That is also why, according to the poll published in le Devoir, only 34% of the Québécois believe Québec will ever be an independent country. Not because they don’t want one. Because they’ve come to believe the PQ is to proccupied with saving it’s own ass to ever pull it off.