As an anglophone who moved to Québec almost exactly three years ago, I’ve been wanting to articulate my thoughts on separatism and upcoming Québec elections for some time. After reading this horribly misinformative piece on Vice, I figured now is as good a time as any.
Let’s get this out of the way: if you’re in support of the Liberal Party of Quebec, you’ve basically been asleep at the wheel. Regardless of how you feel about the student tuition hikes or economic conservatism in general, the Liberals have been an abhorrent government demonstrably overrun with corruption and overall shittiness. Don’t forget that they very clearly intentionally made the situation with the students worse while repeatedly insisting they would not call an election — only to, surprise, call an election shortly after and use the narrative of the “violent” students as the backbone of his campaign.
It’s the law or it’s the street. You know, the street. Where people are. Democracy IS the law of the street.
It’s true that there is no progressive party in Québec that is not a separatist party. That kind of sucks for people who love Québec and want it to remain part of Canada, but I’m starting to wonder if you can really love Québec and still want it to remain part of a country that has a pretty fucking passive-aggressive relationship with it.
It’s worth noting that progressivism and federalism may be mutually exclusive in Canada, at least for time being. This image says it all, really:
Look at the proportion of NDP — the “progressive” option — in Québec versus the rest of the country. Québec is ideologically at odds with the rest of the country under which it is controlled, and they voted accordingly. And where did it get anyone? Fucking nowhere.
Can a progressive province exist inside what is becoming an increasingly conservative country? I’m not entirely convinced.
I’m not writing off concerns people have about the parties here in Québec. Option Nationale and Québec Solidaire’s chances of having any meaningful impact on the next election are roughly zero, and PQ is becoming sort of a milquetoast separatist party, with all of the charisma of the federal Liberal party. Marois also appears to not quite be cut out for the job — and also has some unconscionably stupid opinions — which explains the rift in the PQ which lead to the formation of ON
and QS [Québec Solidaire was not formed by a rift in the PQ, but rather by the merging of the left-wing groups Union des forces progressistes and Option Citoyennes. Sorry for my mistake. -ed]. Nonetheless, it’s a decisively better option than the PLQ.
Either way, I can agree with federalists that separation is not a discussion we should be having right now, even if I’d like to see the idea explored again. Québec is too shaken and too corrupt right now to attempt open-heart surgery on itself. We need to instead explore how to strengthen the foundations of what the Québecois people want in our current state.
There’s also the rather frustrating issue that people who live outside of Québec and don’t speak French (no hate — I don’t, either) have basically zero access to meaningful information about the situation in Québec. The separatist parties have to swallow some of the blame here, seemingly content to give up on anyone who isn’t pure-laine Québecois (though thankfully, we’re beginning to see a bit of progress on that front). This means people get the majority of their perspective from corporate-driven rags like The Globe and Mail or edgy anglos on Facebook and Twitter.
Let’s be honest — it’s cool to make fun of Québec if you’re an anglo. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a fucking idea what you’re talking about. After all, Québecois are a bunch of cheese-eating, bleeding heart communists complaining about the lowest tuition fees in the country, so fuck them! Perspective? Context? What’s that? Everyone should have to be as miserable and mistreated by their governments and corporations as I am.
So basically, Canada is a country full of people who fucking hate Québecois (, I know — I’m gonna run with this, though) despite not knowing much of anything about it. I base this perspective on basically BEING one of those people for a large portion of my life before moving here, and realizing it’s fucking awesome. Why would anyone want Québec to be more like the rest of Canada? Fuck, move to Ontario. Everything that makes Québec great is unique to itself.
And yet, these same people that fucking hate Québec absolutely don’t want Québec to separate. Maybe they realize it would be economically disastrous for Canada (and possibly for Québec, too), but mostly it just seems to be out of spite. It’s what a lot of Québecois want, and since they want it, they definitely shouldn’t have it (just like lower tuition fees!).
If you want meaningful, solid information on the current situation in Québec, check out quebecprotest.com. Yes, that site has an angle, and its admittedly biased — but sometimes reality is biased. Whatever you do, don’t believe the bullshit being fed to you by the anti-Québec media (or the giant media conglomerate Quebecor, which is in the pocket of the PLQ [UPDATE, APRIL 18 2014: Yes, I know PKP joined the PQ. Please note that this article is from 2012. While that doesn’t mean it’s impossible I was wrong here, it certainly contextualizes the statement.]), by neo-liberals, by uninformed twenty-to-thirty-somethings on Facebook.
Hell, actually talk to people living in Québec. It’s not hard. I am one of them.