Tag Archives: separatists

Annual Habs Cultural Concern Renders Separatism a Joke

By Jason Menard

You know the best way to tell that hockey season’s right around the corner? It’s not by using something so frivolous as a calendar, or even charting the stars. No, the best way is to wait for the rite of passage that is the Annual Clueless Quebecer Complaining About a Lack of Francophones on the Roster of Les Habitants.

Hey, guess what? It’s hockey season. Know why? Because Pierre Curzi’s gone on the record discussing the Montreal Canadiens’ lack of French-Canadian content on the roster. Continue reading

Quebec Win an Opportunity for Both Sides

By Jason Menard

Monday’s landslide victory for the Quebec Liberal Party, while significant, should not be considered the death knell for separatism in the province of Quebec. In fact, if the right cards aren’t played, future generations looking back at this week’s election may see it as the watershed moment for a renewed sovereigntist movement.

The separatist forces within Quebec find themselves at a crossroads. Its leadership is aging and the youth of Quebec – and even some soft-separatists – have found a more comfortable fit within Mario Dumont’s Action Démocratique party.

The separatist movement is in dire need of an infusion of youth and fresh ideas to deal with the realities of the 21 st century. Ironically, it could be the actions of the new Liberal government that could provide that new infusion of youth.

Historically, separatism flourishes in times where the PQ is not in government. The party is better able to concentrate on its raison d’etre and not be bogged down with more difficult issues such as balancing a budget or improving health care.

A number of factors led to the PQ’s current loss, ranging from residual resentment over forced mergers, union disenchantment, and lack of faith in the leadership. The PQ was strongest with charismatic leaders such as Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard – suffice to say Bernard Landry did not captivate the masses in the same way as they, or even Mario Dumont, did.

However, the electorate’s political memories are short. These next few years of Liberal government are key. Mismanagement or public relations nightmares akin to those of their federal counterparts could spark a groundswell of disenchantment in voters, which could be quickly fanned into a blaze of anti-federalist sentiment within the youth of Quebec.

While good government may be the mantra, the reality of the situation is that the underlying causes of Quebec separatist feeling are still there. While French-English equality is greatly improved in the province itself, the essential fact of the matter is that French Canadians are still surrounded by an overwhelming sea of English. Consider the concerns Canadians as a whole have in protecting their culture from the overwhelming American influence, and now transfer that to an even smaller population of French-speaking people warding off the influences of English on their culture in this day and age where borders are disappearing courtesy of a number of influences, ranging from the Internet to Television.

If the provincial Liberals aren’t able to satisfy the needs of the masses, then we could see a startling reversal of fortune during the next election. Which is why it’s important for Jean Charest to separate himself (no pun intended) from his federal brethren and be almost belligerent in his efforts to bring to the fore the needs and desires of the Quebec population to the extent where he must be more pro-Quebec than even his PQ predecessors. Anything less, regardless of the intent, will be seen as a weakness by those soft federalists and separatists who donned Liberal red this election.

It is also important that the rest of Canada does not take an out-of-sight-out-of-mind attitude towards Quebec. While the majority of people outside of Quebec may have finally breathed a sigh of relief, it’s important for Canadians across the country to continue to work towards improving relations with Quebec. They say a watched pot never boils, and by maintaining a focus on Quebec, federalists as a whole can work to prevent separatist sentiments from bubbling up.

By no means does this mean acquiescing to all of Quebec’s demands, but rather it does mean that we now need to move away from a confrontational style of negotiation between the provinces to a more open concept rooted in mutual understanding and support. There also needs to be a fundamental understanding and appreciation of the role culture plays in each society.

There are those that will apply the overly simplistic Darwinian theory on cultural survival, essentially stating that society should be able to be stand on its own two feet and survive on its own without outside aid. However, we live in a more enlightened age wherein it’s hopeful that we as a country have come to a point where we see how we benefit from being a bilingual nation, with two strong yet distinct societies living under one flag.

If Canada is truly worth working for, then now is not the time to rest, but to redouble our efforts as a whole for the future.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

How the Bloc Can Help Canada

By Jason Menard

Maybe, after all has been said and done, we’ll see that Quebec separatists have the right idea.

I’m not talking about tearing the country apart, of course. But, as all signs point to a wide-spread sweep of the province for the Bloc, they seem to have their priorities right when it comes to voting for a federal election.

Many of us have spent these last few days leading up to the election still juggling in our minds which party we should support in Monday’s balloting. For many, the question is not ‘Which party do I like best,’ but ‘Which party is the lesser evil?’

People who once described themselves as staunchly red or blue, are now blinded by shades of grey. There are those who would love to support the NDP or Green parties, but feel that their vote would be ‘wasted’ on the national level.

This is an election unlike any other over the past two decades, and normal voting patterns have been thrown out the window in lieu of strategy and big-picture thinking. But one problem with looking at the big picture is that the smaller details tend to blur out of focus.

So Quebec has it right. For the rest of Canada, we’re so busy looking at a macro level that we’ve neglected our own backyard. Our obsession with determining which head of the Martin/Harper/Layton hydra would end up biting us the least has prevented us from looking locally to see who is the candidate that will truly affect change in our everyday lives.

Maybe it’s a selfish concept, but really, when it gets down to brass tacks most of us heading to the ballot box are not looking to altruistically subjugate ourselves for the masses. We want to know ‘what’s in it for us?’ Quebecers have figured that out and that’s why the Bloc is so popular!

For many soft-separatists or even federalists who vote Bloc, they’re not necessarily casting their ballot for separatism. Rather they’re casting their ballots for a party that has Quebec’s best interests at heart — and really, what’s wrong with that?

Many of us complain that our elected representatives seem to vote along party lines, rather than by what their constituency wants. But that’s what the Party system has bred – the ruling party has to be as palatable and inoffensive to the masses in order to keep their hold of power. So instead of working on the micro level, they’ll take a macro view – and that’s when the details start to blur.

This election offers us a chance to take back some of that power! We’re so firmly entrenched in this Party system of government that, chances are, there’s no going back. However, as we look to a probable minority government, our local representation becomes that much more important.

As a governing party looks to build consensus, they’ll need to negotiate and offer concessions with those sitting across the Parliament floor. In the absence of a dominant Party able to force a collective view through the system, the smaller, regional groups can rise up to fill the void. Put it this way, with a block (no pun intended) of seats estimated to number in the 70s, do you not think that Quebec’s interests will be well represented in a minority government?

So as you deliberate as to whom will receive your vote, spend more than a fleeting moment thinking about your local riding. When we go to the ballot box, the names on the ballot aren’t of the leaders, but rather those of our local representation. So let’s take this opportunity to hold them accountable.

More than ever, each vote in this election matters. By voting for the candidate you feel will best represent you and your community you can send a message to the federal government that Canada as a whole can’t be painted with the same brush. Rather it has to be appreciated for the rich social and cultural mosaic that it is!

So, in an ironic twist, maybe the Bloc will strengthen this country after all! If we vote for strong regional representation, like Quebecers do, then our elected officials will have to work in the best interests of all Canadians!

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved