In an address made yesterday (August 20, 2007 – published in the National Post) about the first war casualty of a Canadian soldier of the Quebecois Royal 22nd regiment (in Afghanistan), known as the Van-Doos, Quebec Premier Jean Charest said:
“We, as citizens of Quebec . . . “
For more than a generation, Quebec politicians and news people referred to Quebec as if it were a nation separate from Canada. They would say: Quebec AND Canada, opposed to Quebec within Canada.
It didn’t take long for the Anglo media throughout the rest of Canada to make the same distinction in media reports. But it didn’t stop there. Politicians on all sides of the divide took to stating Quebec AND Canada as a simple matter of speaking.
I always took great exception to this, since Quebec is until further notice a part of Canada. We don’t hear, read or see news reports that describe Ontario AND Canada; or any other province AND Canada. If we do, they are simply honest mistakes that can be accredited to bad reporting.
So why Quebec AND Canada?
The reason is simple: Before the deed is done when Quebec will become an actual country, opposed to an ethnocentric nation within a country, the mindset for the rest of Canada AND Quebec must be established.
So, to constantly refer to Quebec as a territory separate from another, in this case separate from Canada, the perception will become the reality with little surprise.
I’ve argued vigorously on my radio show and elsewhere that there are no such things as Quebec citizens, since there is no such thing as a country called Quebec. And since there is no country of Quebec, there can be no Quebec citizens.
So what does it mean when the Premier of Quebec, who once tried his hardest to become the Prime Minister of Canada, describes the people of Quebec as “the citizens of Quebec”?
It means just that.
It means that Jean Charest sees Quebec as more than just a nation within a nation. He sees Quebec as a country apart from Canada.
And so do I.
Quebec has journeyed so far towards national independence with the active aid from Ottawa through vote-getting appeasement and cowardly federal decisions, that its current and supposedly federalist Premier publicly describes the people of Quebec as citizens of Quebec.
The Van-Doos have been a major part of Canada’s war history since World War I. But that said, they are far more a part of Quebec’s culture than they are of Canada’s.
And even though they serve Canada with a Maple Leaf worn on their shoulder patch, we should make no mistake about it; they are Quebec’s sons and daughters first.
It seems sad that Quebec Premier Jean Charest mourns the loss of one of Quebec’s citizen soldiers (Van-Doos), when plenty of other Canadians have perished in Afghanistan without so much as a whimper from Quebec’s National Assembly and the Premier who leads it.
I’m with Charest. I want to see the day when Quebecers are really defined as citizens of Quebec. And for me, that day can’t come too soon.