Democracy and the Quest for a Sovereign Quebec Nation

By Gray, Earle | Canadian Speeches, January-February 1998 | Go to article overview

Democracy and the Quest for a Sovereign Quebec Nation


Gray, Earle, Canadian Speeches


As the Supreme Court began its hearings in Ottawa on the legality of a unilateral declaration of independence by Quebec, separatists gathered in front of the Court building, waved their placards for the television cameras, and shouted in unison, "democratie, democratie, democratie"

What does democratie mean? Presumably, it means that the will of the majority should prevail, and the minority must go along.

But which majority? The majority of the 30 million Canadian citizens, including the nine million who live in Quebec? No, that can't be what they mean, because that would make Quebec's secession from Canada a dead letter. The majority of the Cree whose lands occupy nearly half of Quebec and who have voted about 98% to remain in Canada rather than join an independent Quebec against their will? No, not that majority either.

Democratie must mean that the will of the majority of Canadians in Quebec must prevail, specifically the French-speaking majority, the only Canadians who have shown any inclination to favor the creation of a separate Quebec nation.

Democratie must mean special rights for a chosen group. It means that the majority of French-speaking Canadians who live in Quebec have a right to break up Canada. It means that the majority of the English-speaking people who live in Quebec would not have the same right to break up that putative nation. The majority of the Anglos, the majority of the Aboriginal people, the majority of any other ethnic or racial group, would not have the same right as French Cnadians.

Millions of Quebecers are being bamboozled by dangerous demagoguery, distortions and deliberate misrepresentations into believing that this morally-offensive double standard is a "democratic right." They are being misled by masters of misleading.

It is the double standard that leads to tragedy.

It is the double standard that fester racial, ethnic, linguistic and secular confrontation and conflict.

It is the double standard that leads to the horrors of Northern Island, Bosnia, Algeria, the Congo.

It is the double standard that would shatter today's best hope and model for peace, harmony and human rights in this strife-torn world.

It is the double standard that would crush the very democratic rights that all Quebecers cherish.

This is the double standard which says that all Quebecers are "a people" but that Anglos, Jews, Crees and others are not people.

Too many Quebecers are being deceived into buying this double standard because the demagogues preach only half of the equation. They preach that some Quebecers have a "right" But they dare not mention that others Quebecers must have the same right.

Never mind the technical points that the politicians, the constitutional experts, the lawyers and the judges debate and deliberate about. Those are matters of precedent and law. What is really at issue, behind all the legal questions, are matters of right and wrong. Just and unjust. Democratic rights or oppression. A multicultural society of mutual respect that is the admiration of the world, or a fractured northern North America of tension-ridden tribal societies. …

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