Magazine article Inroads: A Journal of Opinion

Majorities and Minorities: Selected and Edited from the Inroads Listserv

Magazine article Inroads: A Journal of Opinion

Majorities and Minorities: Selected and Edited from the Inroads Listserv

Article excerpt

Participants in the Inroads listserv grappled with a variety of aspects of the Quebec election campaign. In a March 27 post, Wilfred Day discussed the "PQ bonus" in Quebec elections--the consistent tendency of the Parti Quebecois's seat total to be proportionally higher than its share of the popular vote. This elicited a response from Louis Germain, which in turn provoked an exchange with Gareth Morley that engaged some of the fundamental questions that francophone Quebecers and anglophone Canadians have been struggling with for decades. Highlights of that exchange follow.

From: Louis Germain I March 28

The so-called PQ bonus is not primarily a consequence of a problem with the voting system. It is due to the fact that, as Wilfred Day correctly notes, "the Liberals piled up wasted big majorities in federalist ridings."

Here, one must also understand that these "federalist" ridings are primarily anglophone and allophone. One has to wonder why 80 per cent of anglophones vote for the Liberals and 75 per cent of allophones do the same. And when it comes to their opinion on sovereignty, 96 per cent of anglos and 85 per cent of alios are against. Why is that? That's too long a discussion for a listserv.

If the "question nationale" were behind us, and voting not split on the sovereignty issue, then the current voting system would not carry that kind of distortion. And an adequate proportional system (different from the Israeli system) would be even more democratic.

But if a proportional system were in place now, francophones would never have the government they really need in Quebec. The Quebec Liberal Party owes its standing to anglophones and consequently bows to that community's demands, not daring to make any strong decisions on language and cultural issues. It would govern in such a way that, 50 or 60 years from now, Quebec no longer would be the French-speaking state it now is.

The latest census shows that francophones now account for only 79 per cent of Quebec's population, a slow but steady decline in the last 40 years. Montreal Island's French population is now below 50 per cent. Why? Among other causes, the fact that we put a lot of energy teaching French to immigrants but a great number of them are asked to speak English to get a job. In last night's debate, Philippe Couillard said that a worker on an assembly line has to speak English in case a visitor from the United States comes and asks questions about the way the assembly line operates. This is no joke--he said it.

Wonder why a minimum of 50 per cent of francophones would vote Yes in a referendum on sovereignty? (The average Yes in the polls is 40 per cent, with 50-51 per cent of francophones saying Yes and 91 per cent of anglos/alios saying No.)

Quebec's dream of sovereignty will not fade soon. Quebec's federalists and Canadians from the rest of Canada should understand that an independent (interdependent) Quebec is the best thing that could happen to both Quebec and Canada. Done in a mature way, by politicians with vision and grandeur on both sides, it could be achieved.

The democracy of the nation is enacted by the vote of citizens. The democracy of the Planet, of Humanity, is enacted by the vote of nations. Quebec is a nation, with adequate population, institutions and economic and social structure to be a country on its own.

Let us reconfigure the Canadian space with two proud, interdependent and friendly countries.

From: Gareth Morley I March 31

Louis claims to be puzzled by the hostility of anglophone and allophone voters to the sovereigntist project. I find his puzzlement puzzling. He, along with the nationalist movement more generally, finds the very existence of allophones and anglophones a policy problem, worthy of state intervention, like crime, bad public health and dangerous roads. People don't like it when you view their existence or the fact that they have children as a social ill. …

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