Quebec Premier Marois bobbles bigotry.

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois appears to want to have a provincial election based on the bigotry of her charter of values. She sees it as creating conditions for separatism from the rest of Canada. That is an illusion. There might be as many as three or four strategies that could give her a stronger mandate to govern—but emphasizing bigotry does not appear to be one of them. It is not a path down which Quebec voters want to go.

What Marois is trying to build on is tribalism. She sees Quebec tribalism as rooted in the high degree of language and cultural control that the Quebec government has gained. What she wants to add is mind control and that is beyond her capabilities. There are no bindings strong enough, moats wide enough, walls high enough to maintain the degree of language and cultural purity that her pur laine péquistes seem to seek. There will always be outside influences.

And it is the influences from outside Quebec that make Marois grind her teeth. Her problem is that there is a wonderful world to explore beyond Quebec. Quebec cannot keep its people on an isolated island in an English-speaking North America.

Marois and her separatists have never been honest with Quebecers about the real costs of separatism and the dangers of trying to divide our country. Being Canadian is a benefit beyond value.

And supporting tribalism with racial tensions is not only disreputable but something borrowed from a painful past. History shows us that bigotry often destroys the perpetrators of hatred along with their targets. The tête carrée (square head) slur never worried too many of Quebec’s English speakers. It took the demands of the language police to drive out many of the English-speaking small business people and rigid rules in education to discourage those who wanted to keep their English-speaking roots.

But Marois’ separatists now want to use racial hatreds to further their political goals. For a government to claim they are furthering secular objectives by heightening racial tensions is not only shameful but reminds some people of Germany in the 1930s. While the courts are unlikely to ever allow Quebec to mistreat minorities with the ill-named Charter of Values, Marois wants to add that threat to her arguments for sovereignty.

“We must be separate,” she seems to claim, “So we can discriminate.” What logic is that?

It shows the desperation that we face from those still trying divide instead of build. When Pierre Trudeau said “Canada must be a just society,” he was speaking of a Canada without barriers to race, religion, language, opportunity and freedom. It is the small-minded and self-important who do not understand the importance of that to all Canadians.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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