LA FETE NATIONALE

Today is the Fete Nationale du Quebec. So, happy feast everybody. The day is especially significant this year because Quebec City is celebrating the 400th anniversary of its founding.

Quebec is a smiling pleasant place these days — at peace, prosperous and readying for a summer of fun festivals of which the Montreal Jazz festival is the most famous attracting thousands of visitors including many Americans. Today, my wife Catharine and I will go to the Atwater Market to obtain a basket of ruby red juicy Quebecois strawberries.

And there is more good news on the political front. A new nationwide poll suggests that a strong majority (71 per cent of English-speaking respondents and 78 per cent of allophones) of Canadians – including most of the country’s French-speaking population – believes Quebec is “destined” to remain part of Canada. Only a third of Quebec residents believe the province will one day become a country.

These results suggest the limited appeal of the historical narrative long promoted by Quebec separatists – that “accidents of history” such as the British victory on the Plains of Abraham, have merely delayed Quebec’s inevitable emergence as an independent state.

Instead, most Canadians including Quebecers, appear to find the classic federalist story line – which emphasizes inexorable progress toward reconcilation of the French-English conflict at the heart of Canadian history – more compelling.

Furthermore, all the political polls show that the strongly federalist government of Jean Charest would win a majority were an election to be held today.

So deck the halls, blow the trumpets and ring the bells. Quebec’s heart is beating strongly at the centre of the federation. And we are off tonight to celebrate at a Quebecois concert in the Old Port.

What about you?

And do you agree with the large majority of Canadians who believe Quebec will remain in Canada?

16 Comments »

  1. 1
    SUZANNE Says:

    I never feel so unQuebecoise as on la St-Jean. I feel it’s become so incredibly politicized. Don’t go out in the street with a Canadian AND Quebec flag– you’ll get killed.

    I wish I could join in the festivities, but it’s become about nationalism and separatism, not Quebec. I hate the name “nationale”. Sorry, but it’s not “nationale” to me.

  2. 2
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Celebrating Quebec is celebrating the beating heart of racism, hate, ethnocentric nationalism, and Bill 101.

    I would rather live in an independent Quebec that respected rights and freedom than a Quebec within Canada that has a race law/hate law called Bill 101.

    Quebec needs the natural protection for its language and culture that the boundaries of an independent nation will give it. This whole notion of keeping a nation — Canada — together at all costs (read: sacrificing the rights and freedoms of Quebec’s minority to appease the nationalist) is anathema to me.

    Not only should Quebec separate, but the rest of Canada should be broken up and sold, piecemeal, to the Americans.

    Neil excitedly cites polling statistics to demonstrate allegedly low support for separation. Well, this sort of thing comes in waves. When Pierre Trudeau left office, support for separation was in single digits in Quebec…and we all know what happened just a few short years later. What Neil conveniently omitted was that those polled in Quebec who believe Quebec will one day become a nation is at 33%. Of course, this is almost all on the francophone side, which is 80% of the population. This means, mathematically, that about 41% of Quebec francophones believe that one day Quebec will separate.

    WE ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE TROUGH, SO TO SPEAK, OF PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR SEPARATION YET A HUGE MINORITY — A WHOPPING 41%! — SUPPORT THE NOTION. Goodness, if that isn’t a ringing endorsement for separation, I don’t know what is.

  3. 3
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    It is sad that the separatists have hijacked what should be a festive holiday. They have also wrapped themselves in the Fleur de lys that Duplessis had envisaged as an emblem of the province of Québec, just like other provinces had their emblem, for the population to look up to and be proud of regardless of origins.
    As for Tony’s whopping 41% it abstracts the 59% others. Of course for the separatist that he is it must be absolutely blinding.
    All in all I enjoyed the St-Jean-Baptiste a lot more when it was still a religious feast.
    By the way Suzanne, I have for several years avoided any flag waving, save occasionnaly for the Greek flag. Quebecers react favorably to its blue and white.

  4. 4
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “And do you agree with the large majority of Canadians who believe Quebec will remain in Canada?”

    I believe that it WILL stay in Canada… but only because there doesn’t seem to be a federal politician that will stand up to quebec! With the number of votes (seats) quebec holds in parliament it would be political suicide to stand up for what’s right – they’d get killed in the next election and then be out of office. This is the catch-22 and main reason why quebec manages to have such success blackmailing the ROC… and the reason why quebec will never leave: they have a hell of a good thing going here and would be financially crushed if they left canada! Why would they want to leave when they get pretty much whatever they want from canada now?!

  5. 5
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    All: I apologise in advance for being such a hog this morning with these multiple bloggings but I feel I must respond to a few more things:

    Suzanne writes: “Don’t go out in the street with a Canadian AND Quebec flag– you’ll get killed.”

    I don’t know whether you meant that literally, Suzanne, but I’ll tell you of an instance in which that was pretty much what happened. Right after Meech Lake failed in May/June of 1990, I went to the St. Jean Baptiste parade with then Suburban reporter Irwin Rapoport. In his bag was a Canadian flag. He went to the front lines of the crowd lining one side of the parade route and unfurled it. Needless to say, it was the ONLY Canadian flag present, in a sea of blue. Within less than 30 seconds a Montreal cop came up to Irwin and demanded that he put it away, for his own safety he was told, because he could not guarantee his safety.

    Neil writes: “Quebec is a smiling pleasant place these days — at peace, prosperous and readying for a summer of fun festivals…”

    Sorry, as I read those words I couldn’t help but think of the lines the Sean Penn doll spoke in the movie Team America, World Police: “Last year I went to Iraq. Before Team America showed up, it was a happy place. They had flowery meadows and rainbow skies, and rivers made of chocolate, where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles.”

    Neil also writes: “…the strongly federalist government of Jean Charest…” Charest “strongly federalist”?

    Can you say “oxymoron”?

    If Charest is “strongly federalist”, then, up is down; hello is goodbye; and fast is slow. This last quote doesn’t invoke a puppet movie but the memory of a very real-life personality: Enver Hoxha, the former dictator of Albania, whose love of Communism extended to issuing an edict in which all traffic lights in Albania would henceforth go on red and stop on green.

    If Jean Charest and his government are “strongly federalist”, then the St Jean-Baptiste Society should change its name to the We-Love-the-Monarchy Society

  6. 6

    The assumption in some of th comments is that Quebec is a province like the others. Of course, it’s not.

    Because of its culture, language and history, Quebec has a special status, not superior but different. Enlightened federal governments have correctly recognized this for many years.

    Isn’t it remarkable too that of the last seven prime ministers, Canadians have elected four from Quebec.

    The next prime minister, Stephane Dion, will also be a Quebecer.

  7. 7
    jim Says:

    O.K if 41% support the notion of separatism and 59% do not, that means the Federalists have a whopping plurality of 45%. If this isn’t a ringing endorsement for staying in Canada, I don’t know what is needed
    By the way Canadians are Americans just as the remaining members of the Western Hemisphere.

  8. 8
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “Isn’t it remarkable too that of the last seven prime ministers, Canadians have elected four from Quebec.”

    Two points here… 1. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that there would be so many quebecers leading a federal party in Canada?
    And 2. It’s because quebec has far too much pull in politics!! Too many seats in parliament and too much power!

    One thing I’m certain of is that it’s not because Canadians like quebec politicians more than other ones…

    “The next prime minister, Stephane Dion, will also be a Quebecer.”

    Now THAT is funny! Thanks for the laugh!🙂

  9. 9
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    The problem, Neil, is not that some of us incorrectly assume that Quebec is a province like all the others; the problem is that when it is convenient to Quebec, that Quebec itself expects to be treated like a province.

    This curious double standard rears its ugly head only when it comes to…money! Yeah, what a surprise. Equalization payments is a case in point: when the chequebook comes out, Quebec suddenly transforms itself into and fully expects all Canadians to recognize it and treat it as a mere province, just like all the others, and its continual insistance upon being recognized for its special “distinct society” mysteriously disappears.

    You see, Neil, equalization can only be given out to provinces, not “nations”, not “distinct societies”.

    But when it comes to violating human rights, all of a sudden Quebec is a nation, something different from the other lowly 9, deserving of special status.

    No, Neil, let’s have some consistency from one day to the next. Either Quebec is a province within Canada that will be treated as a province and will be expected to behave like a province…or it is a separate, distinct nation…one that doesn’t come to the trough like all the other little piggies expecting a hand-out. Nations don’t do that.

  10. 10
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Then Tony what are the IMF, the World Bank and donor countries for? What are several African countries and some Asians?
    Not that I am comparing Quebec’s situation to that of those countries, just wondering about “Nations don’t do that”.
    And no, I will not take it further.

  11. 11
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    You’re right, Paul, I stand corrected.

    Third world nations do that.

    Rich, prosperous nations don’t.

  12. 12
    Joe Agnost Says:

    This morning I was listening to the news and heard that Harper is filling a couple of cabinet positions… he is planning on filling them with quebec MPs. Not any specific MP because they are suited for the job, but simply any quebec MP. This is called BUYING quebec votes – which (because of the amount of seats quebec has in parliament) is a smart political move.

    It’s a sad reality but it’s the truth – because quebec has so many seats/power they manage to get positions of power within any particular party because the party NEEDS to appease quebec (to get quebec votes).

    When was the last time you heard of a cushy position being given to a BC MP or a Manitoba MP simply because they were from that province?? It only happens in quebec (and sometimes Toronto).

  13. 13

    Joe:-

    The number of Quebec seats (75 I think) is guaranteed by the British North American Act. The number of cabinet posts from any province is related to the number of MPs that province elected. Yourlogic seems to conclude that the number of cabinet positions appointed from a province has to do with buying them off. Ridiculous.

  14. 14
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “The number of cabinet posts from any province is related to the number of MPs that province elected.”

    This is not true… It’s normally a reflection on the best man/woman for the job.

    “Yourlogic seems to conclude that the number of cabinet positions appointed from a province has to do with buying them off. Ridiculous.”

    How is it ridiculous?

    Why would Harper want to fill the vacant cabinet positions with a quebec minister – ANY quebec minister – if not to placate quebecers.

    I think you’re being unbelievably naive if you think this isn’t about vote buying in vote rich quebec.

    The reason it doesn’t happen in other provinces is (A) the number of seats are low in some provinces (hence no power) and (B) other provinces don’t have this sense of provincial pride that quebec does. I know that I couldn’t care less if the cabinet has Ontario MPs in it – as long as the best people are there to do the job!

  15. 15

    I think I’ll remain silent on this one.

  16. 16
    Barry Says:

    I believe Quebec has been pampered for far too long and that Bloc Québécois should not even be allowed to be a party as they are only in one province. To the commentators above, you really truly believe we have all these Quebec Priministers because Canadians prefer them, I have some prime land to sell you in the andes mountains. The rest of Canada is not fairly represented in the federal elections because Quebec has way more seats than it should have. Hmmmmm wonder which Quebec priminister drew up that plan. All Canadian provinces should have equal voting power for an equal government by the people of Canada not just Quebec. Then we would stop seeing poloticians trying to bend over bacwards just for one provinces votes. also you would start to see priministers from all around the country which is the way it should be. No wonder Quebecers wanted special recognition status, as they are hooked on it since they have been getting it for so many years that they can’t and don’t even want to recognize that truth. It’s no wonder the kids I talk too aren’t interested in voting as one province in the whole country get more recognition than any other. I say it is time for us all to be equal. I love Quebec just not the unfair favortism that they get.


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