Monday, December 19, 2005

Money Non, Ethnic Vote Oui

Jacques Parizeau's famous semi-intoxicated rant about losing the 1995 secession referendum because of "money and the ethnic vote" may not be true the next time out, because immigrants are increasingly thinking of themselves as Quebecois and not Canadians:

...while many of their elders might still reject the sovereigntist movement as one made up of francophone ethnic nationalists, those gathered here are enthusiastically approving of Mr. Boisclair's message that they are as Québécois as he.

It would be hard for many of them to feel like anything else. They are the "children of Bill 101" -- either first- or second-generation immigrants who grew up in Quebec attending French-language public schools, as mandated by provincial law since 1977. Their education and, more important, their socialization among francophone Quebeckers, has led them to define themselves as Québécois as much as, if not more than, Canadian. Many see sovereignty as merely the formalization of what is already a reality for them: Quebec, they will tell you, is their country.


The sponsorship scandal, which resonates particularly with voters who fled countries where government corruption was rampant, could see the Bloc register its best score in this election thanks to new endorsements from immigrants. Recent polls have pegged the party's support among allophones at about 20 per cent; this does not include immigrants or ethnic voters whose first language is French, such as many Haitians or North Africans.

Sill, Mr. Verboczy and his children of Bill 101 cohorts gathered at the Brébeuf rally do not evoke the Gomery report or any other aspects of the sponsorship scandal to explain their support for the PQ and Bloc. Their sovereigntist convictions are deep-seated and not likely to be influenced by flavour-of-the-month politics.

So why, in a world where Canada is admired as a model of diversity and harmony, where even Lisa Simpson of The Simpsons fame prefers to travel with a Canadian flag stitched on her backpack, are more young Quebeckers of ethnic origin endorsing sovereignty?

"To them, Canada is the Post Office and the money. Quebec is a more important marker of identification for them," said Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies in Montreal. "The message the federalists have been sending is not emotional. The [sovereigntist] message is more about who you are."

Bill 101 has been around for almost an entire generation, and its effects are finally showing up in the opinion polls. Requiring all immigrants to be educated in francophone schools, dominated by separatist teachers whose opinions have been shaped by a left-leaning separatist teacher training system and teachers' unions, was bound to shape the students' opinions as well.

Add to that a general atmosphere where Quebec itself regards Canada as a foreign country, and it is no wonder that second-generation Quebecois don't think of themselves of Canadians.

Despite France's inability and/or unwillingness to assimilate its Muslim population, it has done a fairly good job of making other immigrants identify with France, starting with the second generation. Nicolas Sarkozy, himself of Hungarian and Greek extraction, is one particulary good example.

Quebec, following a similar model, has succeeded (albeit with the same failure as regards Muslims). A future wave of immigration from France will certainly reinforce this success: French Jews are looking at Montreal, with its established Jewish community, as a safe haven from militant Islam, and no doubt other Frenchmen will follow suit.

Adscam proved that money won't buy Quebec's love and loyalty. The ethnic vote isn't reliable any more either. Better to concede the next referendum in advance and plan for a Canada without Quebec, because Quebec has already planned its future without us.

Source: Globe and Mail


Road Hammer said...

I have a feeling that pure laine Quebecois would not treat minorities as equals in a separate Quebec. Sure, when it's time to vote for sovreignty, yes, but once it's achieved ... there will be a strong undercurrent of "get out" intolerance that will emerge.

Lunenburger said...

My only concern is that if/ when Québéc becomes a sovereign nation, Canada will be left without essential links: the St. Lawrence river, and highway between Ontario and New Brunswick (Atlantic Canada). Canada would also be faced with International Waters issues. Federal plans must be in place for Canada to seize the south shore of the St. Lawrence (in a region to the USA border). Québéc City; as in Montreal's case, is located on the north shore, so the "nation's" capital would stay untouched.

Our military would be called upon, because civil unrest may occur-- more reason to restore our army, navy and air force-- now.

Our French friendly liberals, if in power, will allow Québéc to walk away with everything. Such an event would lead to Nova Scotia, PEI, and New Brunswick forming closer relations with north east United States. That may not be a bad thing for the east coast. However, Alberta will have at this point, all the incentive it needs to give Ottawa notice of its own separation.