Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why Isn't Quebec an Independent Country? Part II

See Part I here.

Fast forward to 2000. We had a reunion of old friends from Ottawa. One of our buddies was working for Bombardier and living in Montreal. We chose that as the site. My wife and I flew over from Vancouver.

Background: My parents were from Montreal and I have been visiting there my entire life. But this felt different. Not that it was hostile, but it was definitely a foreign country. My friend was living west of St. Denis. He assured us that most people conversed in English, but it wasn’t so.

Shortly afterwards I was discussing this situation with another friend and he said something that had never even occurred to me: “I hope Quebec separates. I wish they would.”

Wow! The more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it is.

1) Politically:

We have had 6 elections in Canada from 1993 and in every single one, Quebec has voted in a majority of the separatist Bloc Quebecois for their seats. I don’t know about you, but to me that means that they aren’t serious about living in a federal Canada. Can anybody out there call their bluff?

According to Finance Canada in 2007-08, 12.9 billion on Equalization Payments were doled out to the “Have-Not” provinces with a whopping $7.1 billion to Quebec. And how many more billions are spent on pork programs designed to get Quebec votes? Even subsidy heavy Bombardier is a glorified government program. What other reason does Quebec have to stay?

As Andrew Coyne said in Maclean’s recently, speaking of Quebecers: “ … [they] consider Canada as little more than a ready source of cash and favours. “

2) Sovereignty issues:

I mentioned to my father this concept and his first fear was regarding geography. The Maritimes will be cut off and they will control the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Answer: Quebec is not going to shut the borders and blockade the Seaway. (Do they even use the Seaway anymore? And if they end up charging a fee to go through there, it can’t be more than $7.1 billion can it? And besides, the Americans own half of it. ) We can have free trade just like the Americans. It’s in everybody’s interest.

Citizenship issues should be easy. If you’re born pre-independence you are a Canadian citizen. Not afterwards. If you want to have a Canadian Passport, you should be required to live in Canada.

3) Culturally:

Many people see Quebecois and French culture as enriching Canada. I suppose they are right. But is it going to go away? If you’re that anxious to see a French film or listen to some Quebec pop, you are still free to, are you not? (Bonus, your tax money won’t be paying for it. So if like most people, you don’t watch Quebec films, tv or listen to the music, it won’t feel like wasted money.) I love Montreal as a city, and I can do the same thing I do now. Visit it from Vancouver. It is not going to be lost forever.

Note: I think the dirty little secret is that many Anlgo-Canadians say they like Quebecoise culture but don’t practice that. I don’t remember seeing a Mitsou album in a friend’s collection. You don’t watch the television shows. Once a decade you read a Marie Claire Blais book or watch Decline of the American Empire, but nothing will stop you from doing that in the future if Quebec is on its own.


Time to get out of the parent’s basement Quebec. Take yourselves seriously and make your own country. You are a nation. Didn’t the Canadian government acknowledge that? So act like one. It’s not a divorce, it’s a child all grown up who needs to move on.


  1. One other thing... if Quebec separates Canada has a greater likelihood of electing a true right wing government. For instance, Harper would now be governing with a majority of MP's. His policies considered too right wing for Quebec and Toronto would rule the day.

  2. I agree and that would be a good thing. I hate seeing Harper have to cow-tow to Quebec. I'd be nice if he could just ignore it.

  3. Have you read King John of Canada' by Scott Gardiner? Decently funny Candian political satire set in the not too distant future. Anglo-Canada votes in a referedum to kick Quebec out of Canada after Toronto threatens to seperate from Canada.