If Pauline Marois truly believes she is protecting and promoting Franco-Québecois culture by proposing an initiative to force Francophone and Allophone students into French-language CEGEPs, than it necessarily implies that she also believes the future of Québec does not go further than our geographic borders, and that our youth need not be trained for the Global Village already in the works. In sum, through this proposed extension of Bill 101, Ms. Marois is setting us up to take a fall, one which will undoubtedly sever our people from fully participating in global initiatives, and will further result in a servile and dependent people. If this is her idea of increasing the individual sovereignty of the people of Québec, than we should prepare ourselves for the bondage-by-fear characteristic of the Duplessis Era. When it comes time for an election in this province, it will be a choice between an embattled neo-Liberal party and one who would have you believe that limiting the education choices of adults is a step towards national independence. That kind of thinking is reminiscent of Sarah Palin’s illogical gaffes and the Tea Party’s fear-based rhetoric than it is of cold, sober Canadian political philosophy. Let’s not go down that road of no return that has called like a Siren to so many befuddled Americans. Make no mistake – Pauline Marois is the bottom of the barrel, and no self-respecting, sovereign Québecois should ever want her to lead this province. It would be disastrous; here’s why.
Nationalism is dead. Pan-Nationalism is the future.
Nationalism has shown its dark side time and time again, a leading cause of world conflict for most of the twentieth century. Think of the Balkans in the 1990s; think of Italy’s mad dash for colonies in the 1930s; I hate to use this point as it’s cliché, but we can’t escape the reality that Nationalism drove the Nazi movement – indeed every fascist movement – and Nationalism can be found as a root cause of every genocide. So why do we, the sovereign people of Québec, pay any attention to a political party which uses Nationalism as its ideological foundation?
The people of Québec are part of a larger Franco-Canadian nation, but we are Pan-National by nature. Neither Québec nor Canada has ever been a homogeneous society – even as far back as our colonial period, French settlers, Canadiens and many Aboriginal nations shared our land, inter-married, learned each others ways, customs and languages. If the Voyageurs had not been accepted into Aboriginal nations and families, we never would have prospered, never would have survived. The ‘purest’ Pur-Laine Québecois has plenty of Aboriginal and Irish in them – our cultural reality is manifestly plural. The foundation of our current inter-cultural society can find its ideological base in the necessities of our people’s colonial experience. We became a new kind of people, one ideally suited for the centuries to come – a people in which adaptation, cosmopolitanism and multi-lingualism were necessary keys to survival.
The world is getting smaller every day. In order to survive and prosper in the decades to come, we, the people of Québec, will have to decide whether we have the collective will to participate in a global economy, a global network of governments, and all the global initiatives required to end war, hunger, disease and the destruction of our global environment. As communications and transportation networks develop, we find ourselves sharing the planet in a manner akin to a large village – and in the process, we are becoming more and more aware that we must collaborate and cooperate in order to achieve trans-national and trans-cultural goals. In essence, we are moving towards an increasingly inter-cultural world, and the future will belong to the people most capable of living a global existence
So when the leader of the Province’s once-respected sovereignist party proposes to limit the education opportunities of the people, of the youth in particular, this same leader is cutting us off from the world, and this will harm us gravely. Pauline Marois is proposing the ghettoization of Franco-Québecois culture, and by doing so seeks to reverse the trend set during the Quiet Revolution. Ms. Marois thinks the Quiet Revolution is over, passé. It isn’t, it is the heart and soul of Québec’s progressive movement. By attempting to extend Bill 101 into the CEGEPs, she is attempting to limit education opportunities for all communities, while further limiting the natural trend towards multi-lingualism in post-secondary education. What’s worse is the fact that Anglophone CEGEPs would have their funding cut in addition to restricted enrollment, while Francophone and Allophone students would go to unilingual CEGEPs and universities instead of the already multi-lingual ‘Anglophone’ institutions.
A better idea would be to ensure all the students of Québec are taught both English and French equally at the primary, secondary and CEGEP levels, so as to guarantee a fully bilingual workforce. This is not something from the pages of futurist science fiction; it could be accomplished easily within a couple generations, yet we lack the will to be daring, creative. This is manifest in the policies of Ms. Marois, who would rather own a little North American fiefdom, with the people of Québec as her dependent subjects, than realize our nation’s full potential. In her rhetoric, she prepares her followers not to lead, but to be held captive by fear – of the other, the Anglophone, of Canada, of the immigrant who learns both English and French. For all intents and purposes, she may as well sell you fear of the British Empire, of Loyalists or the Orange Order. She wants to induce a siege mentality in this province, despite the fact that there is no threat to the French language, culture or society. Each year there are more of us, and each year more immigrants learn French and adapt to our ways – more often of their own volition than through force and coercion.
If our dearly bewildered opposition leader is given carte-blanche, she will undeniably erase the progress made during the Quiet Revolution. She will provoke Québecois of all language and cultural groups to leave the province for better opportunities elsewhere, force a referendum no one wants, and jeopardize our economic stability. But what is worse is that she will turn this province into a ghetto, and our people will suffer the indignity of a ghetto mentality. Such an indignity will leave an indelible mark, and we will perish as a community, as a society, because of it.