As a youngster growing up in Toronto, hard on the heels of the Second World War, we had to take our lessons in bigotry in very large doses. And we learned. It was not until I spent time in Quebec as a young man that I realized that the Quebec situation is definitely different. It is the ingrained bigotry in the Quebec psyche, forced on Quebecers for a couple hundred years.
It was the realization in Quebec that putting it to the anglophones was best done through the allophones.
Take the current squabble about Amira Elghawaby being the choice of the federal liberals to help do something about Islamophobia across Canada. No doubt, she can contribute a knowledgeable Muslim view to the problems but it is not Muslims who are causing the problem. I think we need people who understand those bigots and tribalists in the National Assembly.
They also need to understand the history of Quebec and the bitter reign of the Catholic Church during the colonial years. Maurice Duplessis and René Lévesque were divided by more than the Quiet Revolution. The outpouring of anglophones and talent through those turbulent years left Quebec a province with less than it deserved as a quiet backwater of North America.
It is the bitterness and frustrations of the National Assembly as it tries to justify its existence, preserving the xenophobia instead of what it could have been. Constantly beating on the wall of English, guaranteed to lose in time to young people without the baggage. Montreal had already thrown in the towel giving Toronto the power, the privilege and the problems of being the dominant world city.
What Quebecers have never seemed to understand is that there has always been a hand-up offered by those Anglos in Toronto. There is no rivalry. There is no need to put down anyone’s language or heritage or colour or tribe or religion.
The opportunity for all Canadians is greater than the sum of the country’s parts. Together, we can do just about anything, or be anything we want to be.
Copyright 2023 © Peter Lowry
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