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By: Jared Milne

In Part I of this essay, we discussed the origins of Quebec nationalism and how it developed into a desire by Francophone Quebecers to have their province recognized as a distinct society within Canada. In Part II, we saw how Pierre Trudeau sought to counter this as Prime Minister of Canada, how he fought subsequent attempts to recognize Quebec’s distinctiveness, and how the Trudeau Paradox emerged from it. In Part III, we’ll see a possible way around the Trudeau Paradox, as well as the fact that there’s a lot more common ground between Francophone Quebecers and their fellow Canadians than most people realize.

trudeau

Is there a solution to the problems raised by the Trudeau Paradox? Currently, we’re stuck in a polarized situation. Either one supports Trudeau’s vision and the reforms associated with it, or one supports the separation of Quebec. There doesn’t seem to be any room for the middleground anymore, one that recognizes the unique challenges Quebec faces and supports the recognition of that province as a distinct society, while also recognizing that the province is part of Canada and shares common values and challenges with the rest of us.

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By: Jared Milne

Part I of this essay discussed the origins of Quebec nationalism and the desire of Francophone Quebecers to have their province recognized as a “distinct society” within Canada. This desire was fiercely opposed by Quebec political thinker Pierre Trudeau, who became Prime Minister of Canada in 1968. Trudeau was seen as speaking for Francophone Quebecers, and his critics would claim that he was just the first Prime Minister from Quebec to impose that province’s agenda on the rest of Canada. However, in this part we’ll see that Trudeau’s agenda was quite different from what most Francophone Quebec thinkers were advocating.

repatriation

Trudeau’s reforms, including the way he implemented bilingualism across Canada and advocated for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, were meant to undercut any sort of claim by Quebec to its distinctiveness. He supported bilingualism on a strictly individual basis, believing that if French was further reinforced across Canada it would undermine Quebec’s claim to be a distinctly Francophone majority province. Similarly, multiculturalism would make Francophone Canadians just one of many communities of many different backgrounds that exist in Canada. Enshrining the rights of all Canadians in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would further cement an overall Canadian identity, over and above any provincial identity.[1] He justified his support for government intervention such as social programs as being a way to help everyone get an equal chance to make the best use of their talents, as their circumstances were not all the same.[2]

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By: Jared Milne

The results of last year’s provincial election in Quebec, which returned the Parti Quebecois to power, only reconfirmed the perceptions many Canadians in other parts of the country had of Quebec. The rest of Canada continues to consider the province as spoiled and entitled; still musing about separating from Canada despite having dominated the political agenda for nearly four decades and having received billions of dollars in transfer payments. Separation is seen simply as a way for Quebec to blackmail more power and money from the rest of the country.

Quebec_city

 

The province is also seen as intolerant because of language legislation like Bill 101 which other Canadians believe restricts individual rights and freedom of choice, particularly the rights of its Anglo-Quebec minority. Past Prime Ministers like Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien are seen as having only cared about their own province, blowing off many of the concerns of other parts of Canada. These attitudes prevail despite the rest of Canada’s efforts to accommodate Quebec by accepting bilingualism and the growing enrolment of children in French immersion schools, which is what they thought Francophone Quebecers were looking for.

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