Telegraphed Gazette: Column. May 18/19 2013
Greetings readers, and welcome to another edition of the Telegraphed Gazette’s column segment: this week we will explore Quebec’s political situation and estimate what future trends will be in the near future; specifically the next 4 years. The Telegraphed Gazette originally was created for news specifically from Montreal, and the games industry. Among many other things, the primary news that I focused in on was news related to Quebec’s politics – as many of my veteran readers are aware – which happen to circulate around two pillars: independence, and the French language.
Independence has always been the incumbent party’s main objective: their name declares it so, and their leaders as well. Quebec for the past 30 or so years has gone through cycles of independence referendums and talk of separation. There are even militia groups in rural Quebec that claim that they will fight for the newly independent nation should the need arise. However, realistically they are merely gun-wielding civilians who lack any formal training in weapons handling and tactics. The only real threat they will pose is to a persons’ well cut lawn in the sense that they will run around and do push-ups on the grass instead of on the pavement. The idea is appealing when it comes to joining a militia: you are fighting for the people no doubt. The idea of independence is equally romantic; no doubt stories to woo the girls and to make boys raise their voices in a unified roar. Yet the reality is that independence is very costly, and without financial support – in the form of the transfer payments from Ottawa – the Quebec government may find itself cutting spending rather quickly when the funds dry up. Right now there are many political parties in Quebec who understand the political atmosphere, and who have their own agendas for the province; many of whom will slit each other’s throats at first opportunity.
Historically – at least in relation to the rebellions of 1837 and 1838, to the October crisis in the 1970s – Quebec has battled against the government for autonomy of any sort and citing cultural and/or linguistic differences as the main factor. The province itself does not always see eye to eye on issues as the rest of Canada does, and when it comes to their own self-determination, this is even more the case. The province likes to think it is independent; indeed her politicians speak as though they are, and the youth who are motivated by the cause are in the same boat. Yet I would like to put forth this statement: You are part of Canada, and as a member of this family we will love you until the day the thirteen of us – ten provinces three territories – pass into the mists of time. We will never let you bleed yourself to death because you are family, and such we will do what we can to preserve this union.
Now when it comes to language, French is the main vernacular of the province, and has been for hundreds of years. Therefore it is without question that the province try everything it can to protect its language from extinction: though whether or not it is going extinct is highly debatable. The politics of Quebec revolve around language almost as much as independence with the two often intertwined in debates during provincial elections. Parties wishing to garner votes from the independence or Quebec cultural bloc always link the two as the key aspects of the province, and would swear to protect it from the sea of English – as some would dub it. There is no doubt in my mind that French is the main language of the province, and safe from foreign influence. Now I am aware that there are many factors that determine viability, but let me use my recent experience in the BC provincial election as an example. The voter demographic was very diverse on Election Day, and when I asked for identification and supporting documents, all voters were able to reply in full, regular sentences – accents varying. After a twelve hour shift – in my mind at least – I have concluded that English is safe and that all migrants coming to Canada will learn the language as they integrate into the greater Canadian society. Going back to Quebec, migrants who settle in Quebec – while retaining their immigrant language through parents etc – will often speak in French while in public. Their motivation to speak French is quite simply really: Quebec is a French-speaking province, and as such – unless they are tourists – French will echo through the streets like there is no tomorrow. Thus it is in their best interest – should they wish to make a future in the province – to learn and speak the language.
Yes when I take the bus I hear other languages: so? We are a nation of immigrants, and I am certain that over two hundred years ago Gaelic was spoken in areas which saw the largest migration of Irish and Scottish peoples. We all will hear various sounds and vernaculars in our lifetimes, but to be naive as to think that French is in danger? Really now people, government services and schools are not going to burn the French language to the ground. However, I do agree with some of the French language laws such as bill 101 which make French the main official language of the province. Being a little selfish is how anything will get done; the RCMP does so with the relocation of their members to postings where manpower is needed the most, the military does it, and so will various government agencies. Nevertheless, the language is not in danger of disappearing, but it is how politics in Quebec is played.
Quebec is part of Canada, and no matter how misbehaved it is, we will love it unconditionally much like a parent loves their child unconditionally – situations may differ of course. Quebec’s political scene shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon, and the two pillars of language and independence will not simply go away anytime soon so long as there are drummers to drum to the beat of the two pillars. Some may ask is independence likely? The reply is: “no it is not.” Cost to benefit ratio is not in favor of independence, and Quebecers have stated twice – though admittedly by a narrow margin – that they would rather be a large province than a small country, as partition can occur if independence were to occur. Firstly the western half of Montreal would stay with Canada, as would a massive chunk of Northern Quebec – due mostly to the English-speaking, and aboriginal-language speaking, aboriginal population. The Bilingual region south of the St. Laurence River would stay with Canada, leaving the newly minted nation of Quebec essentially a city-state. Regarding the status of the French language, many young Canadians – especially the more “ambitious ones” – are becoming more and more bilingual in French and English, sometimes even trilingual. However like the recent thirty or so years, language and independence are key pillars in Quebec politics, and probably will continue to shape the political scene for a few more years depending on who is in charge of the various parties in the National Assembly. Such is the nature of things. This concludes this edition of the Telegraphed Gazette’s Column section: my name has been Vince, and I will see you next time.