AngryFrenchGuy

Could a People that Can’t Build a Highway Ever Build a Country?

with 137 comments

dead-end2

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.

Written by angryfrenchguy

June 11, 2009 at 1:38 pm

137 Responses

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  1. Yes, that’s pretty much what I meant when I said I didn’t believe it was wholly irrational or xenophobic to want a celebration of the French language for that one day.
    Especially, as you mention, considering how little of it is accepted in the English parts of the country, and of Quebec itself.


    -Just caught the leader from Lake of Stew commenting on the situation on CTV.

    I’m quoting from memory, but he said something like : «When we were first invited, we thought the Québécois were finally becoming more inclusive, but…»

    So here we go again : In spite of a majority of people condemning their expulsion, and in spite of the total absence of any French representation in Canada’s national day in English provinces, he had to whip out the “ethnically closed-up Québécois” argument.

    Raman

    June 15, 2009 at 11:11 pm

  2. Nobody is begging you to stay.

    Raman

    June 15, 2009 at 11:12 pm

  3. That is right, Raman! No reason to stay in the poor welfare land just to be closer to the pseudo french culture, the dying language and non-productive population with uncertain future.

    Hong

    June 15, 2009 at 11:24 pm

  4. when our fair land (mon pays bleu) has cut the civil service by 70% – (quebec has the same number of civil servants as california – population 35 million) – when the secessionists call for a flat tax and divorce themselves from syndicalism and when they favour the creation of wealth by entrepreneurs – when quebec abandons abortion as birth control and is sending money to the rest of canada to be spent in any way the recipients see fit – that would be the point at which quebec could look the roc in the eye and say – “we can’t take any more of your nonsense – we’re leaving – good luck to you all and take care.”

    whether we would or not is another question, hein? in the meantime we are saddled with bureaucrats, unions, outrageous taxes and a future that is destabilised consistently by socialists who cannot create wealth but can only come up with ever more clever ways of redistributing the wealth that does exist.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    ~ C.S. Lewis ~

    johnnyonline

    June 15, 2009 at 11:49 pm

  5. Interesting post JOL.

    That being said I agree that if Quebec were contributing to Canada their position would be better for secession than it is at this time. The current position is what puts uncertainty in peoples minds (and so it should). If Quebec were a contributor then this anxiety would be far less than it likely is at this time.

    Your likely right about the unions, size of civil service and taxes. Of course taxes cannot be reduced without reducing costs which will reflect on social programs that have become enshrined in Quebec.

    I doubt that the general populace of Quebec is likely to make the sacrifices necessary to see secession. After all, every one is concerned about themselves.

    Perhaps M.Marois or Gilles Duceppe has a method of reaching their goals while at the same time continuing on with the status quo on transfers. I doubt that is reality.

    ABP

    June 16, 2009 at 1:06 am

  6. Good luck feeding your family with fuel efficiency standards and Kyoto obligations (yum, carbon sushi).

    Furthermore when it comes to Ottawa’s lack of green policies, you cannot simply think locally. Quebec could convert to zero net emissions and it would have no impact global warming if the rest of the world keeps up its current pace of pollution. A Canada in which Quebec has a voice is far more likely to have a net positive impact on the environment than a Canada with its political center shifted further West and a Quebec with no say about anyone but itself.

    Edward

    June 16, 2009 at 7:40 am

  7. True. Almost all of the best Quebec performers (be they actors, singers, whatever) are based in and around Montreal. Whereas most of the best English-Canadian performers are in Los Angeles or New York. It is also true that those Quebec performers who have part of their careers abroad (in France or in the U.S.) also seem to come back to Montreal more frequently than ROC stars like Jim Carrey, Mike Myers or Jason Priestley show up in Toronto for example. Even Céline was not really that absent from the local Quebec star system during all those years she spent in Vegas. She was seen fairly regularly on Quebec talk and variety shows.

    It goes a long way in explaining why there are so many Quebec talk shows and so few in the ROC (are there any at the moment? the last one I remember was Open Mike with Mike Bullard but it was canned). CBC people dream of producing a ROC version of Tout le monde en parle, but the fear is that they would very quickly run out of interesting guests. While it is true that all talk shows regularly feature out-of-towners with star power (and Quebec talk shows are no exception), interesting people who are available locally in the production city are the true bread and butter of any successful talk show.

    Acajack

    June 16, 2009 at 9:00 am

  8. When I linked on to angryfrenchguy.com this morning, it told me that there are 97 comments to this thread.

    But when I clicked on it to see those 97 comments, all I can see is 4 or 5.

    Can someone tell me how I can see all 97 comments? This blog seems to do that whenever the number of comments reaches a certain point.

    T.K.

    June 16, 2009 at 9:32 am

  9. Click on “Older Comments” below.

    Roger

    June 16, 2009 at 9:45 am

  10. You have the people who act. And the others, afraid of change, living miserable lives in places they find miserable while they desperately need to spew their hatred all around to stay sane.

    tremblay

    June 16, 2009 at 10:30 am

  11. What’s with this “colonialist” thing? Weren’t your ancestors colonialists too? Or did they come here with good intentions and asked the natives very politely to step aside, so your great-great-great grandfathers could take their place?

    Ask any Quebec native to point out a colonialist, and he’ll point his finger straight at you.

    allophone

    June 16, 2009 at 10:34 am

  12. Give me some credit. It’s been a long time since I listened to a local program, in English or French, or read a local newspaper. What’s the point?

    I lived in NDG once however, if that helps. I also lived in Rosemont, where I was probably the only person that didn’t vote PQ.

    allophone

    June 16, 2009 at 10:53 am

  13. Asian work ethic vs Quebecois “work ethic”. Would you hire Chan/Patel or Lévesque/Bélanger? Provided, of course, that Lévesque/Bélanger are even willing to work.

    allophone

    June 16, 2009 at 11:36 am

  14. I wouldn’t hire Lévesque/Bélanger for sure. Why? Given their French names they are probably racially inferior and they probably also have the well-known and documented “welfare genes”. I’d even pray that they never find a job and a wife, so their deficient genetics won’t corrupt the futur generations of quebecers.
    Do I even have to highlight you that the subtext of your commentary is deeply racist?

    tremblay

    June 16, 2009 at 1:18 pm

  15. After I wrote this, I recalled that years ago, John Phillips wrote an autobiographical song for his and Denny Doherty’s rock band, the Mamas and the Papas, called Creeque Alley. One of the lines was:

    “Zally* said, ‘Denny, you know there aren’t many who can sing a song the way that you do; let’s go south.’

    Denny said, ‘Zally, golly don’t you think that I wish I could play guitar like you?'”

    *Zally was the late Zal Yanovsky, another anglo Canadian musician who enjoyed a brief period of success in the US as guitarist for the Lovin’ Spoonful.

    Phillips, an American, may not have fully realized the implications of what he wrote, but to me what is implied in the line is that both Yanovsky and Doherty, once they realized that they were competent artists, were content to leave Canada to make their mark in the US. And so they did, as many others have done before and since.

    littlerob

    June 16, 2009 at 2:42 pm

  16. johnnyonline:
    “when our fair land…”

    How strange all the reason you give for not liking Quebec are reason why I am especially proud of being a Quebecker.

    Perhaps two countries are not a luxury when the peoples in question have such strong disagreement on how things should be run.

    But I agree on transfer payments. Quebec should refuse transfer payment, as they always serves as an excuse to shut up any important debate. It also undermine the case for independence. But that also means that we should stop paying any taxes associated with this program and I am not sure we have the right to do that (if I understand the system correctly, the money received is pooled and then send to those provinces who need it most – like Ontario right now).

    Tancrède

    June 16, 2009 at 3:51 pm

  17. «I lived in NDG once however, if that helps. I also lived in Rosemont, where I was probably the only person that didn’t vote PQ.»

    There are many anglophones in Rosemont, actually. Take a stroll around Cégeps de Roseomont, and generally in the North-Eastern section of the neighbourhood, if you want to check. And they have been there for generations.
    Just shopping on Promenade Masson, you’ll hear a lot of English spoken.

    Raman

    June 16, 2009 at 4:05 pm

  18. (if I understand the system correctly, the money received is pooled

    Actually the formulae is quite complicated. In essence however, what happens is the 10 provinces are taken into a account and those five above the average GDP/capita receive nothing and donate to the five below the GDP/capita. As with anything else there are details on revenue exclusions such that for instance the revenue Quebec and Manitoba or actually any province receives in Hydro Revenue is not included in the revenue calculation. Oil and Gas non renewables are at 50% exclusion rates at this time I believe.

    Problem is that every province except for one is in a deficit situation this year and yet the equalization program amounts have not been reduced to reflect the reality of the economy. So then I guess the country is borrowing the 14.5 billion to provide the same amount in equalziation when in fact the entire GDP/capita of the country has likely gone down significantly in the recession.

    I suppose any program has faults.

    On Quebec refusing equalization but not contributing. Slippery slope as for the most part the federal transfers and Quebec tax abatement act return for the most part all the federal taxes collected in Quebec. The equalization is on top of this.

    I have tried to get these figures for all the provinces but so far I can’t seem to get to the data on federal taxes collected and transfers given out on a province by province basis. Perhaps someone can point me at a link which might provide this information.

    ABP

    June 16, 2009 at 4:41 pm

  19. “How strange all the reason you give for not liking Quebec…

    you know i love quebec and the evolution and politics of our society are not exactly ideal, “mais bon, c’est la vie.”

    i’m not about to give up on it just because a little while ago it took a left turn – there’s plenty of time to correct the mistakes we have made. well, maybe i won’t get to see it but i am convinced it is wort6h the effort…

    transfer payments are some strange voodoo – it takes a lifetime of study to get through the rules of that labrynth – nobody understands them – nobody. they make it up when expedient and if nobody can find a rule against it or the proposal goes unchallenged – some socialist government’s overspending ass gets pulled out of the fire.

    you are right about it being a form of indentured servitude.

    tancrede

    June 16, 2009 at 5:25 pm

  20. “transfer payments are some strange voodoo – it takes a lifetime of study to get….”

    Yes and to make things worse they continually change the rules to keep people in the dark. I am not sure the politicians even understand the formulae and rules. Very convoluted and twisted as spaghetti.

    ABP

    June 16, 2009 at 5:44 pm

  21. Wow. You don’t often see that kind of racism flouted this openly nowadays. At this point it’s not even called “subtext” anymore, it’s just “text”.

    fred

    June 16, 2009 at 8:07 pm

  22. ahem! well that wasn’t tancrede at all @ 5:25p.m.
    my mistake – forgive me in my haste.
    johnnyonline

    johnny-en-erreur

    June 16, 2009 at 9:23 pm

  23. as a way of distracting attentiom – here’s a version of “Days of Wine and Roses” (Mancini/Mercer) offered up into immortality by Woody Herman and His Swingin’ Herd circa 1964:

    johnny-en-erreur

    June 16, 2009 at 10:18 pm

  24. “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.”

    Just like that, you are giving up.

    “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. »”

    It is a good plan. Despite what you interprete in these polls, they rather show that the majority of Quebecers are neither federalist or sovereignist, but nationalists who reject the present Canadian federation structure. The PQ plan is to convince these nationalists that the Canadian federation would not satisfy their and, by extension, Quebec’s needs and aspirations; by forcing the federalist hand. That sounds to me like a sensible plan based on the current political mood in Quebec. We have to be patient.

    Furthermore, the PQ is not just doing that. Mme Marois has stated that she would talk more about why sovereignty is necessary for Quebec. This is better than promising to hold a referendum in the first mandate at the earliest possible. The poll shows that about 49% of Quebecers would like independence. That is not enough: you need at least 50% + 1 to get it.

    What kind of talk for sovereingnty do I think that should be made? They should talk about what Quebec would look like after independence. They should talk about the ethnic, financial, cultural, social and societal reasons for independence. François Legault has a good report in 2005 about how the finaces of Quebec would look like after independence. So, for the financial reasons, talk more about that report and put it in layman’s terms. Futhermore, reassure the non-francophones that, although the independence is for the francophones, there would still be a place for them and tell them not to believe in the federalist propaganada that the sovereignists are racists.

    Antonio

    June 17, 2009 at 12:28 am

  25. once more – my apologies and once more into the breech horatio – i’m batting a thousand.

    www point youtube.com/watch?v=VMWdJpU9t5Q

    johnnyonline

    June 17, 2009 at 7:33 am

  26. You choose to wrestle with a bunch of chimney sweeps, some of their dirt will rub off on you. You can’t always get out clean.

    The dude “afraid of change”, “living a misearable life”, according to my “racial profiling instincts”, is likely to be a very hard working and fairly well educated man. Unlike other dudes, sitting on their porches in St-Henri from 9am to 9pm, sipping Molson Dry, complaining about bad French the Asians speak. Living life in the fast lane, embracing “change” that’s coming at them at full speed.

    allophone

    June 17, 2009 at 8:56 am

  27. Cher séparatistes,

    On doit accepter le fait que les Francophones constitue seulement 2% de la population d”Amérique du Nord et que les Anglophones constitue 90%. L’indépendance ne changerait pas ça. Les immigrants qui arrivent au Québec choisissent d’apprendre l’anglais parce que c’est la langue maternelle de 90% de la population d’Amerique du Nord. S’ils n’apprennent pas l’anglais, ils seront désavantager, car l’anglais est la langue maternelle de 90% de la population d’Amerique du Nord. L’anglais est aussi la deuxième langue la plus parlée dans le monde et la langue du commerce et de la finance. Pourquoi presque tous les Anglo-Canadiens hors Quebec sont unilingues? Parce que la motivation pour apprendre une langue parlée par seulement 2% de la population d’Amerique du Nord n’existe pas. The truth hurts, as we say in English.

    Hamer

    July 2, 2009 at 4:27 pm

  28. Here’s another thing you say in English :
    -« Thanks, Captain Obvious ! »

    Raman

    July 3, 2009 at 1:22 am

  29. Hamer seems to ignore the fact North America includes Mexico, and the linguistic proportions he trumpets so proudly change when you throw them into the mix, a cultural challenge our Southern neighbours seem keenly aware of.
    Leaving aside issues of Quebec sovereignty, constitutional reform or even current status quo and preferences thereto, the current discussion does establish that Quebec is entitled to defend its cultural existence with appropriate legislation whether part of Canada or a separate entity. There is in fact a great deal of smug ignorance and indifference to the condition of minority language rights elsewhere in Canada by many anglo Canadian contributors when lamenting the lack of linguistic freedom offered to immigrants in Quebec, or even to francophone Quebecers.

    The same limited entitlement to language instruction by cultural heredity, the law 101 rules for English language instruction in Quebec, exist for francophones throughout Canada. French language instruction is not available to one and all, to anyone who requests it, elsewhere in Canada. You have to prove your entitlement, your cultural heritage, family precedents, previous instruction in French to qualify. This is not available to any Sergei who just got off the plane, moved to Vancouver, chose to address his neighbours in French though everyone else speaks English, and decided it might be a good idea to send his kids to a French language public school.

    Other provinces do not give immigrants such choices, they will even dispute this right with francophones if sufficient hereditary proof is not provided.

    Nor are immigrants given the choice upon arrival in Canada whether they wish to obtain federally funded language instruction in French or English. Such choice is not there, outside of Quebec the language of instruction is automatically English. No freedom for immigrants to choose French, such choice is simply not offered.

    As for the much vaunted or much decried bilingual services ( depending on viewpoint) elsewhere in Canada, well outside of federal government services in a few major cities, delivery is either non existant or leaves much to be desired.

    To offer an example, we’ll take the case of a francophone, locally raised or expatriate Quebecer in Vancouver who requires French language services from the provincial government, let’s assume health or social services. There is no one, and I mean no one to serve him in his language, in fact they are offended if one assumes there should be. Now a locally raised francophone would not be so presumptuous as to demand services from his local government in English Canada in French, must be some Quebec bumpkin who hasn’t figured out yet how the world works. So they tell the bumpkin, go to the immigrant services society where they speak obscure languages like French and obtain yourself a translator, bring him back with you, and maybe then we can deal with your request.

    And yet all we seem to hear is how Quebec mistreats its immigrants by restricting their choices, denying them freedom of choice in language instruction.

    dupmar

    July 3, 2009 at 3:45 am

  30. “Hamer seems to ignore the fact North America includes Mexico, and the linguistic proportions he trumpets so proudly change when you throw them into the mix, a cultural challenge our Southern neighbours seem keenly aware of.”

    Last time I checked, Spanish was the official language in Mexico, not French. So if we add Mexico and Central America to the equation, the linguistic situation doesn’t change for French. In fact, it gets worse. On the entire North American continent, it makes up for less than 2%, with English and Spanish being 60/40.

    I googled these, but if I’m off by a million here and there, I hope afg won’t throw a hissy fit:

    QC: 7,560,592 (French)
    ROC = 33,212,696 – 7,560,592 = 25,652,104 (English)
    US: 303,824,640 (mostly English)
    Mexico: 109,955,400 (Spanish)
    Central America: 40,545,745 (Spanish)

    Your emotional attachment to the issue aside, don’t you think that French might not be as important as you think it is, if you look at the cold numbers. The numbers that won’t change whether Quebec stays in Canada or separates.

    “French language instruction is not available to one and all, to anyone who requests it, elsewhere in Canada”

    I was always curious about it. Is it that French language instruction doesn’t exist, or is it that there is no demand for it? If an immigrant comes to Ontario or NB and there is a French public high school in the area (due to the local demand), is there a law that would prevent such an individual from enrolling his children in that high school? I don’t think there is, but let me know. Besides. I think the majority of immigrants to the ROC have no desire of having their kids educated in French anyways. So a problem of Sergei wanting to send his kids to a French high school probably doesn’t even exist.

    “There is no one, and I mean no one to serve him in his language, in fact they are offended if one assumes there should be”

    This is sad, but such an individual comes from a linguistic minority of 2%, so he can’t expect that other people will learn his language outside the borders of his province, even if it was promised to him by some politicians hoping to keep Quebec in the federation. Let’s be realistic.

    “And yet all we seem to hear is how Quebec mistreats its immigrants by restricting their choices, denying them freedom of choice in language instruction”

    I understand your desire to protect your language and your attachment to your culture. I applaud that. But you have to accept that people coming from abroad won’t care as much as you do. It’s not their fight. They will see things from a different perspective.

    So try to preserve your language, I’m with you on that. But leave the immigrants out of it.

    allophone

    July 3, 2009 at 10:09 am


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