Mathieu sent me a letter explaining how he used to be an extreme Québécois Separatist, and is now a moderate Canadian federalist.
In essence, what he wrote to me said, that he concluded that staying within Canada as a Quebec nationalist is a better deal than leaving Canada as a Quebec Separatist.
His concept of why one wishes to remain a citizen of a country is precisely what’s wrong with Canada. Loyalty to a country is more than a simple financial consideration.
The following is an edited version of a letter I wrote to him in response.
MATHIEU: When it comes to the defense of equality, being extreme is indeed a virtue. I would no sooner want to see French speaking Canadians outside Quebec treated as shabbily as English speaking Canadians are within Quebec.
Quebec is the only place in Canada (and the world) with language laws that make the use of other languages illegal. Even France which tried to institute language laws similar to Quebec’s Bill 101 did not.
To suggest that the forced and coerced disappearance of the visible English language in Quebec is necessary to the success and preservation of the French language (culture) in Quebec is a specious argument.
The lack of English education in the French school system, and in the majority of all Quebec workplaces does nothing to strengthen the influence of the French language. It does precisely the opposite.
Quebec is creating (has created) two levels of equality amongst its own French speakers. Those like you (bilingual) who could live and work anywhere. And those who will never be able to leave Quebec or work at a high level position in a global community where the use of English is absolute.
People like myself, and many within my family and circle of friends haven simply given up fighting ethnocentric nationalism in Quebec.
In my case, I’ve left the province. And with me, I’ve taken my business, corporate wealth and valuable jobs. And I’m just one of hundreds of thousands who have made this decision while the exodus of English speakers continues.
The fact that Quebec’s population is in decline, especially amongst the English speaking population should be a warning sign that things to come within Quebec will probably not be all that good.
Most of my friends who still live in Quebec have adopted the following philosophy:
“Screw-it. I don’t care what they want any more. I don’t give a damn about their language laws or if signs are, or are not bilingual. As soon as we retire, we’re out of here JUST LIKE OUR KIDS”.
When I threw in the towel, it was partly because I finally realized that anyone who is NOT pure laine Québécois will ever be treated with equal respect. Bill 101 says so in every aspect.
I also realized that the true religion of French Quebec is ethnocentric nationalism, where only one cultural group demands and is accorded a PREDOMINANT visibility over all others: as has been enshrined by the Supreme Court of Canada.
In an egalitarian society, where all people are expected to contribute equally, all people should also be treated equally. And in Quebec (with the help of Ottawa and the Supreme Court), that will never happen.
Ethnocentric nationalism in Quebec has destroyed Canada’s best shot at 20th and 21st century financial supremacy in the world. Where we should have paid attention to competing with the world, we focused instead on what Quebec wants.
Louis St Laurent (Canada’s Prime Minister 1948-1957) declared Canada to be the country of the 20th century. He could have been right except for the enormous distraction of ethnocentric Québécois nationalism.
At this juncture in my life, I really don’t care what Quebec wants.
I want Quebec out of Confederation. As a matter of fact, I would like to see Confederation renegotiated between all the provinces and territories in its entirety, with no consideration whatsoever concerning what Quebec wants or needs.
If Quebec would want to participate in common interests in a new North American relationship as a totally sovereign state, I am certain there would be common ground.
Successive Quebec born, or Quebec influenced Prime Ministers such as Paul Martin have sold Canada down the river on the alter of Quebec appeasement, which has not been of benefit to Canada.
I should be happy that you’ve decided that Quebec separation is no longer your goal, but I really don’t care.
The ethnocentric Québécois nationalist movement has done so much damage to the English and ethnic communities; that nothing you, or others say or do, can reverse the harm.
The damage ethnocentric nationalism has done to your own (French speaking) community is seen everyday in Quebec’s high taxes, enormous debt, poor infrastructure, degrading social services, a total dependance on federal aid, and an ever decreasing population where the brightest and best are leaving.
I fear that your conversion from being an “extreme” Quebec Separatist to a “moderate” Canadian federalist is probably far too little, far too late.
Thank you for your letter.