The debate was started by Jacques Parizeau on the election night" after his famous comment about "Money and the ethnic vote"
Five years later, the issue was brought to the forefront with Yves Michaud's speech to the Estates General where he complained that in the heavily Jewish town of Côte-Saint-Luc not one voter had cast a ballot for sovereignty in the 1995 referendum. See Is Yves Michaud Racist?
This led to a motion of condemnation in the National Assembly which still remains a sore point today with sovereignists complaining that Mr Michaud was rail roaded.
But the Michaud affair, highlights the current debate where some nationalists advance the theory that ethnics are disloyal and hence poor citizens because of their collective refusal to give their loyalty to Quebec, instead of Canada.
The idea that everyone living in Quebec must embrace the French language and common French culture is what Michaud and some writers on vigile.net advance.
Let us consider the mythical story of a make-believe town in northern Ontario where 20% of the residents are Franco-Ontarians, the rest English speaking 'pur-laines'
Everybody always got along famously in Mythica, the two language groups although sharing a different language and culture co-existed in peaceful harmony.
The Francophones while living among an 80% English majority enjoyed French language television produced in Quebec, had access to a local French newspaper and went to movies in the town's French language movie theatre and of course the children attended French schools. Stores in the 'French' part of town operated largely in French, but welcomed Anglos just the same, after all, a buck is a buck. Life was good.
But the 'French" situation irked a certain group of English language militants who were organizing politically on a platform of eliminating the bilingual nature of Mythica. Lo and behold, after several years of fear-mongering, a member of this group was elected mayor, as well as a majority of city council.
The mayor organized a referendum around the question of changing Mythica to a unilingual English town. The referendum would decide if the city could eliminate all bilingual city services, French signage, and restrict access to French schools.
Obviously the francophones weren't pleased and decided to organize to help defeat the referendum proposal come voting day.
The principle of the French high school led a furious campaign to convince francophones to vote NO, warning them that the passage of the referendum would mean the end of their community.
The referendum came and went and when the votes were tallied it seemed that 99% of francophones voted NO. On the other side, a majority of 60% Anglophones voted YES but combined with the francophone vote, the NO side won by the scantest of margins.
The mayor was furious.
We lost because of the French! These people, acting as a disloyal bloc, thwarted the will of the majority English, he ranted.
Many English radicals took up the call. Those damn Frenchies! Bad citizens the lot of them, watching French TV, remaining apart, refusing to embrace English and worst of all, insisting on keeping their French culture! Outrageous!
The leader of the Francophone NO side boasted gleefully that it was the bloc of French votes that defeated the referendum, a statement for which he was roasted royally by the Anglo militants, furious that their will was thwarted by an ungrateful minority.Hmmm.......
Now before I get a slew of comments saying that my story isn't comparable to the situation in Quebec, my only point is that Francophones in other provinces have a right to live speak and live in French. I know it's a harder situation for them than anglophones in Quebec, but it's an ideal that is fair and noble.
Secondly, is my point that people have a right to vote selfishly in their own best interest, even if it conflicts with the majority.
Honestly, in the above story, can you see any francophones voting YES in the referendum?
Seeing things from another point of view is difficult, especially for some sovereignists here in Quebec who cannot understand how someone can live in Quebec, while living the Canadian dream in English.
For these people assimilation of the French minority in Ontario is a cruel circumstance of ethnic cleansing while assimilation of Quebec Anglos and Ethnics in Quebec is a noble and entirely justifiable cause.
It a question of perspective, I imagine.
Talking to a leader of the Jewish community (one of those accused of inciting the community to vote NO) in light of Michaud's rant that 95% of Jews voted No in the referendum, I was told jokingly that he couldn't understand what the 5% of Jews who voted YES were possibly thinking!
And so today, attacks on the Ethnics and Jews in particular, on websites like vigile.net is based on the bankrupt and wrong-headed notion that certain citizens have an obligation to live and act as the majority wants them to act.
Most of the hatred displayed on vigile.net comes from a very small group of frustrated old farts, who realize rather painfully that like Pierre Falardeau, they are destined to die in the country of Canada and not an independent Quebec and for Yves Michaud and company, somebody has to be blamed.