It just seemed too radical and impossible a concept to be taken seriously.
But as time marched on and circumstances changed, it has become clear that an independent Quebec would be an extremely hostile environment for Anglo society and particularly the English language.
The recent witch hunt that sought to root out those few unilingual Anglos working in the National Bank or the Caisse de Depot is a clear warning of things to come and reminiscent of the bloodlust displayed by ordinary citizens incited to action by revolutionary leaders during the French revolution.
Scenes of a hysterical mob, hunting down aristocrats, carting them off to the guillotine, all for the sick edification of a mob bathing in an orgy of revenge, in a sportive and festive atmosphere is not much different from scenes played out in the Roman Colosseum where Christians were fed to the lions!
Later on this year, when Randy Cunneyworth will be relieved of his duties as coach of the Montreal Canadiens, shuffled aside with full pay (to keep quiet), solely because of his unilingualism, there will be a grand fete in the streets by French language militants celebrating another victory over les maudits anglais.
Mark my words, this is the path we are embarked upon.
Gone are the days of Rene Levesque and the ideal of an independent Quebec, respectful and inclusive of anglophones and minorities, a dream replaced by the dogmatic world of assimilation, where room for the English language and ethnic diversity no longer exists, victims of extremism, dogmatism and resentment.
Over-reaction?...... sadly I think not.
In the old days, the raison d'etre for sovereignty was the economic emancipation of French Quebec, but with that goal already accomplished with nary a shot fired, a new rationale was invented, this one based on the notion that the English language threatens the very existence of French Quebec society.
Today, the sovereigntist narrative tells us that Quebec needs immigrants to survive, but as long as they have the choice to assimilate into the Anglophone community, French will always be a second choice, even with the necessary, but not always successful coercive measures, meant to steer them towards the righteous path.
Without sovereignty and the elimination of that choice, French society is bound to anglicize over the long term.
And so, despite the fact that most Francophone Quebecers don't hate Anglophones and would like to see them remain part of an independent Quebec, when push comes to shove, it's the militant minority pushing an anti-English agenda, that will impose itƒass views.
Can English survive in an independent Quebec?
No it cannot, it is that simple.
A newly independent Quebec would see to the elimination of the last of our English language rights, be it in the National Assembly, the courts, the job market, the schools, the hospitals and the marketplace.
To those who believe differently, all I can ask is, if not, what is the point of sovereignty?
Under these circumstances Anglos would be left with the decision to leave their home or give up their heritage and language and for most, who are planning a future, the decision to go will be natural, much to the smug satisfaction of militants who can finally rejoice in hammering the last nail in the coffin of English influence in Quebec.
This was the scenario that I envisaged for the Anglo community facing a YES victory in either of the last two referendums.
But since then, things have changed rather dramatically.
Ever since the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, Quebec society has been defined by the French/English dynamic, but the chasm between the two nations has largely been replaced by the new reality, that which incorporates immigrants into the social equation.
Today, the vast majority of all new immigrants settle in the Montreal area and assimilate almost evenly between French and English cultures.
But language aside, the fact is, Montreal has become a multiethnic, multicultural community, similar to Toronto or Vancouver, while the rest of Quebec (RoQ) remains lily-white, French and Catholic.
There's no doubt that the city of Montreal and the RoQ have undertaken, by accident or design, different evolutionary paths, redefining the term of "Two Solitudes" as described by Hugh MacLennan.
As sovereigntists freely admit, their vision of an independent Quebec is in direct conflict with multiculturalism, something that now defines what Montreal has become.
And so separatists look to sovereignty to wind back the clock.
Those who propose the new sovereignty, demand that Montreal returns to what the rest of the province has remained, and that all immigrants not only be forced to adopt French alone, but abandon their heritage as well, assimilating into the culture of poutine and hockey.
Sorry to be cruel, but such is the case.
So let us be honest and admit that this new independent Quebec breaks faith with the old covenant of two founding nations, and to believe that English Quebecers will blithely accept their change in status is beyond wishful thinking.
How would Francophone Quebecers react to the unilateral elimination of French rights by a pan-Canadian referendum and the declaration by Canada's Parliament that French no longer has status anywhere in the country, including Quebec?
Would they blindly accept their new status, would they pack up their belongings and move to France or would they seek a rupture from Canada through the independence of the province of Quebec?
I think most of you will agree that the choice of Door Number Three is the likeliest of scenarios.
For Anglo Quebecers, the question is essentially the same. In the face of the elimination of their cultural and language rights should they blindly accept their fate, move to Canada or seek a physical rupture from Quebec?
And so the subject of Partition is not as far-fetched as we are led to believe and whether it realistically offers a viable resolution to the conflict between multi-ethnic and multicultural Montreal and the traditionally homogeneous culture of the RoQ is a matter for discussion.
We're going to tackle the question of partition over a series of posts in the next little while, which I hope will stimulate some interesting debate.
Over the question of partition, I can offer no inside perspective, only a personal opinion that can serve as a platform for readers.
The question that today's post addresses, is whether the concept of partition, that is, the creation of an eleventh province out of Montreal, is legitimate, fair or legal.
I'd like readers to restrict their responses to this aspect of partition question, as we will be discussing, borders, politics, referendums, monetary issues, etc. etc. in future posts.
Now to launch this debate, I'll share my views and start with a partial presentation of the Declaration of Independence of the United States, one of my favorite inspirational documents.
It is a brilliantly conceived and finely crafted declaration that sets out the grievances of the colonies and sets forth succinctly, justification for independence;
I highlighted in yellow the basis of my position, which is, legalities aside, the idea that when a government loses the consent of the people to be ruled, there is no more legitimacy.The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of Americahen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security..... Read the rest
Now as for legal questions of partition, I've noticed of late that there are quite a few comments posted surrounding the issue of partition.
It seems that the Comment Section is pushing for a debate. So be it.
I've always maintains that this blog is a collaborative effort and I as editor, write stories meant to stimulate discussion.
Those who have been long time participants know that this is not a vanity blog where only opinions agreeing with my position are published.
For those who submitted comments about partition recently, I'd appreciate if you'd re-post them here, so that they can be included in the debate.
To those Francophones deeply offended and outraged at the notion of having their beloved Quebec carved up like a turkey, (federalist will enjoy the irony of that,) I'd appreciate if you'd tell us why the breakup of Canada is legitimate, but not the breakup of Quebec.
Now I understand that the legitimacy of partition, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, but just the same, it will be interesting to hear all opinions from all sides, which I promise will be treated respectfully as long as we all engage in fair debate without descending into the anarchy of name-calling.
Remember, comments to this post should be based on one issue alone...we'll deal with the rest later.
What are the legal arguments of partition?
Is partition legal or not, and if not legal, is partition morally justified anyway??
I look forward to your contributions.