Dave Mankovsky, an ex-Montrealer now living in Atlanta, Georgia wrote me about how Quebec plays the rest of Canada to its own benefit. You can read his entire letter in today’s (June 30, 2004) Letter To The Publisher Section.
The following is my response:
Quebec plays Canada as a maestro violinist plays a Stradivarius. Every time I assume the rest of Canada has had enough of Quebec, and is prepared to tell them where to get off, I’m proven wrong.
Even though Quebec voted heavily (54 out of 75 seats) for a Separatist Party (Bloc Québécois), and has its other nationalist (Separatist) Party (Parti Québécois) waiting in the wings for its strong return, the rest of Canada likes to pretend there is no problem.
They’re wrong. Quebec is a huge problem.
If it wasn’t for Quebec, Canada would have an entirely different outlook on social, economic and international issues. Canada’s government would be a battleground between two ideologies (Conservative and Liberal), rather than always being squeezed by an ethnocentric Quebec spoiler.
One day, the rest of Canada will wake up and discover that much of what effects them in terms of laws and taxes is the result of a have-not province called Quebec.
Dave Mankovsky makes reference to having a bad horse which will not behave, but nonetheless is always there to be fed and cared for. I can relate to his analogy since I’ve had two such horses. One currently.
This horse is an 11 year old jet black Thoroughbred named Slate, whom we’ve had since he was a yearling, and not all that much bigger than a giant Great Dane. He’s now 16 hands 2″.
This is a very big and impressive horse with far too much attitude.
He’s a bully. He pushes the three other horses out of the way when it comes time to eat, and he demands to be the first in the barn for late night grain, and the first back out to the pasture when the grain is done.
He doesn’t like to listen. When I take off his halter, he runs away while the halter is still hanging over his ears. And when Anne tries to take him in or out, he blows past her as if she wasn’t even there.
All of that said; Slate loves to be brushed, rubbed and cuddled. He’ll stand for hours while he’s pampered, much like a magnificent statue. To see him under these conditions, one assumes that he’s a real pussy cat.
But not so. Once you get on his back, Slate becomes more than a handful. He’s actually downright dangerous. Unlike the other horses who go where you point them, Slate has a mind of his own, and wants to go where he decides, and at a speed of his choosing.
He’s just too much to handle. Too dangerous. And no fun to be riding.
But we love Slate to pieces. So what do we do?
No problem. Slate’s a horse. He doesn’t make decisions that affect our lives unless I decide to ride him, so I don’t.
I ride my other horse, a beautiful 3 year old (16 hand and still growing) Paint, who I’ve named Jeb Stewart after the fabled Confederate Calvary General who carried the most spectacular and successful battles to the overwhelmingly larger Union forces.
Jeb Stewart is a real sweetheart. He’s brave, confident, learns quickly, isn’t spooky and goes where you point him. Jeb Stewart and I are going to have a couple of decades of wonderful times together.
Slate will continue to be pampered and loved. But I will not give him the opportunity to change my life by harming me. Not because he’s mean and would want to do me in, but because it is his nature not to be like the other horses.
In many ways, Slate is indeed the loser. He doesn’t get to go on long easy rides horses love to do. It’s not as if he doesn’t have ample space to enjoy. He rules over a large dirt paddock and two one acre pastures. His view is of a beautiful river that runs along both pastures, and an open vista where he can see forever. But as beautiful as it all is, his attitude has excluded him from expanding his horizons.
In some ways, Slate is like Quebec: beautiful, compelling and a problem. But unlike Quebec, Slate is not in a position to do harm, because we won’t allow him the opportunity.
Because Slate is such a beautiful, impressive, large, and spirited horse, I could sell him tomorrow for a great deal of money.
But as long as Slate doesn’t become a danger, he will be with us until the day he dies.
However; if ever his temperament changes, and creates a situation where the stability of our lives and the well being of the other horses is placed at risk because of Slate, Slate will be sent off.
This is the situation where we find ourselves with Quebec.
For the longest time, Quebec was a serious distraction that complicated and impacted upon the way the rest of Canada was governed. And as much as it was a piss-off, it was more or less tolerable. But that has changed.
Quebec is on the threshold of inflicting serious problems upon the rest of Canada, problems Canada neither deserves nor needs, and must start thinking about. As much as I really love Slate, I would not let him harm my family.
It must be that way with Quebec as well.