What do you make of Quebec’s attitude to Canada’s mission in Afghanistan? The question becomes all the more urgent now that a Quebec contingent, the famous Van Doos, are there on the front line. Ostensibly, because Quebeckers are said to be so hostile to the image of Quebecois soldiers coming home in body backs, Defense Minister Gordon O’Connor actually said the Van Doos will be kept as much as possible out of harm’s way. (This was met with so much opposition among the Van Doos themselves, that it is one of the reasons O’Connor will be demoted in a cabinet shuffle Harper is planning for mid-August).
But the fact remains only a quarter of Quebeckers support the mission while 56 per cent of other Canadians do. Is there a parallel here with the opposition Quebeckers mounted to conscription for overseas service in the first and second World Wars? It is more understandable in the First War because it was largely viewed by Quebeckers as England’s war. But with western civilization in the balance in World War Two, the opposition is more difficult to defend. Yet my recollection is that 80 per cent of English supported conscription while 80 per cent of Quebeckers opposed it.
Is it possible the fact Quebec was largely Catholic contributed to the anti-military stance? But so were Italy and France.
Many people who oppose the Iraq war, support the military effort in Afghanistan. It is not clear to me why Quebec is not on board.
But one thing is sure. When the Van Doos begin to take casualties the separatists will surely try to exploit the situation to drive a further wedge between French and English Canada.