memory almost full: “je me souviens”

Je Me Souviens! Its on the license plate. And it mean I remember. I remember what happened on the Plains of Abraham. The crushing defeat of 1759 that gave England and the English language hegemony in the New World. But there is more complexity to it; the betrayal by France and lack of support, and France’s willingness to let New France drift off to its destiny in exchange for other “assets” that colonialism was piling up means Quebec was a big piece, but still a barterable commodity when there were so many goodies coming onto the market.

—Like all political controversies, the separation debate in Quebec brought out viewpoints which ranged from the moderate to the extreme on both sides of the issue.
The F.L.Q. was a group of terrorists who were committed to Quebec’s separation from Canada. They were organized into individual cells of a few members each, which made it difficult for police to track them down. Their campaign began with bombs in mailboxes and then escalated to bank robberies and eventually murder. In 1970, they kidnapped the British trade commissioner, James Cross, and Pierre Laporte, the Quebec Minister of Labour.
The federal government responded by first sending in troops to assist the police, and then invoking the War Measures Act on October 16, 1970. The Act suspended the civil liberties of the of the people of Quebec and gave the authorities the right to arrest suspected terrorists without a warrant. —Read More: image:

From David Frum: Quebec’s sovereigntists pretend to want independence. Until recently, federal politicians pretended to believe them.

But with the Parti Québécois poised to return to power after the Sept. 4 election, the old pretenses are breaking down — victims of the global financial crisis and the Euro crisis, in particular.

In the past, Quebec sovereigntists had a ready answer to every hard question: Look at the European Union. That works, right? As recently as 2009, former Premier Jacques Parizeau published an influential (among separatists) road map to Quebec independence that urged Quebec to retain the Canadian dollar. There’s nothing Canada can do to stop us, he told interviewers with a complacent chuckle….

—The Death of General Wolfe. Benjamin West, oil on canvas, 1771 (Chris Taylor | National Gallery of Canada)
Whatever separatists and revisionists may say, the inarguable truth is that, had the war gone differently, the Canada (and Québec) we know today would not exist in their present form. One visionary of the age was William Pitt the Elder, who realised that European territorial conquests would inevitably be negotiated and bartered back, whereas lucrative colonies might change hands in a more permanent fashion. And Pitt’s game-changing schemes would not have laid the foundations of an Empire on which the sun never sets without men like Major General James Wolfe.—Read More:

But since 2009, Canadians and Quebecers have witnessed a harsh seminar on the practicalities of currency union.

An independent Quebec would be crazy to stay on the same currency as the rest of Canada. If it did, it would find itself exactly in the position of Spain and Italy relative to Germany. No, worse than that — in the position of Argentina relative to the United States during Argentina’s brief tragic experiment with “dollarization” in the early 2000s.

The great lesson of the past dozen years of currency experiments is: Currency union without fiscal union leads to financial crisis and

economic depression….

Its a valid argument that Frum puts forth. A plausible idea. But Quebec is still not Greece. Quebec is not Portugal. Nor Ireland.Nor the context of Argentina.  And there are risks with using a national currency, to start a Quebec dollar from scratch. But it is feasible. The problem and strength is that Quebec is in North America and likewise, people are mobile to leave. And leave they do. Quebec has always suffered from brain drain. And, past Parti-Quebecois governments have been elected and the world did not become flat. It appears whoever controls the massive bureaucratic apparatus of Quebec, the non-elected and non democratic aspects of

rnment management, effectively runs the province. Actual political power has its limits.

In the late 1960’s Pierre Vallieres wrote his Quebec rant, “white niggers of America” which rang a chord, but forty years later that same neo-liberal template is still operational and the bourgeois classes of Quebec, the so-called liberal professions with state decided fees are still no more willing to open their wallets for country development. The civil service sector wants their meat and more of it, but no nation building and sacrifice. thank-you. A no pain no gain paradigm.

Frum: …If Quebec breaks the fiscal union with Canada, it must for its own sake exit the currency union too. Which means that Quebeckers will awake the next day to huge depreciations of their salaries, benefits, and savings.

Quebecers know that, or anyway intuit it. The old promises of an easy separatism have been discredited. Separatism is now a hard path, involving great sacrifices, reduced standards of living, more work, and fewer social benefits — all at a time when PQ supporters yearn to hear a message of no sacrifices, improved standards of living, less work, and more social benefits. Which is precisely why Quebec separatism is effectively dead.

So what is offered instead is an elaborate pretense. PQ leader Pauline Marois has promised to form of committee to work on a project to develop a plan for a new strategy for independence. The committee will begin by studying past studies of Quebec independence, and then — once the studies are complete — proceed to propose action plans. A new diplomatic initiative will seek to gain international approval of the independence that Quebecers themselves do not want.

In tough economic times, these studies at least offer make-work jobs for under-utilized economists, sociologists, and party functionaries. But they impose a tough challenge on the rest of Canada: how to keep a straight face through the prolonged hemming and hawing. “Okay, you just let us know when you finish talking to yourselves. Take your time. We’ll wait. Four years? Eight? Twenty-seven? Fine. No rush.”

Quebec independence is that rare issue that was settled not because it was ever resolved, but because all concerned got bored talking about it.

In that sense, there may even be a certain unintended cunning to PQ leader Pauline Marois’ otherwise unfortunate comments and outbursts: They sustain her followers’ interest in what even for them must look like the sham it is.Read More:


And much of the antagonism goes back to the Durham report of 1839…

(see link at end)…His second concern revolved around his feelings that the existence of two nations, French and English, in one colony, Lower Canada, was a boiling pot of confrontation. He believed that the problems were racial, not political. He wrote that the best solution to Lower Canada’s issues would be the assimilation of the French culture, language and civil society. The most effective measures to achieve this objective would be to unite Upper and Lower Canada, let the English majority elect and direct government policies and eventually erode French rights, traditions, laws and expectations.

The immediate reaction to Durham’s report in London was to consider the merge of the Canada’s and the start of the assimilation process, but the colonial office balked at the extension of responsible government to the colonies. That would have to wait for a more opportune, stable time to begin.

The same issues and debates also existed in Nova Scotia where Joseph Howe campaigned for responsible government. He was also disappointed at the reaction of the Britain to their desires and Durham’s report.Read More:

But what Frum does not invoke, is that there is a lot more money around now than in the FLQ days and early years of the “Quiet Revolution” under Jean Lesage. Its a cautionary tale that could apply to a “divorce” in America as well, where amicable departure is preferable to a long protracted scrap and custody battle.

(see link at end)…There exists a mistaken view that the main reason for the assimilation suggestion by Durham comes from an intolerant, racist attitude. While it is clear that Durham shared the commonly held views of his time regarding the superiority of ‘the Anglo-Saxon race’, and that one finds evidence in the Report that this view coloured his vision of things in Lower Canada, nevertheless the assimilation suggestion was not primarily based on racist grounds. After all, upon reflection, the suggestion of assimilation is usually not made by racist individuals who prefer to see the separation of races continued and perpetuated, as the ‘higher’ race cannot possibly countenance melding with the ‘lower race’…

Durham had primarily three reasons to propose assimilation:

There was, for a variety of reasons, some of which disclose intolerance on the part of Durham, a deadly animosity between the English and the French and this made efficient government of the province impossible. One should consider who will dominate eventually on this continent; the French of Canada will suffer the fate of the Acadians of Louisiana. If the French cling to their ancestral ways and language, in a continent more and more dominated by the English, they will be put increasingly in a position of hopeless economic and social inferiority.

Because they are French, a spirit of exclusion (read: they have been victims of discrimination) has kept them out of the better positions in government and business and has furthered their position of inferiority.
Read More:

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