Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ségolène - 2

While "Ségo" may still be reticent about voicing the policies she has in mind for her home country, it seems that she is much more at ease in talking about those affecting people elsewhere.

There comes a time for every French president (or presidential candidate) when he or she must pronounce an opinion on the question of Quebec sovereignty, but while the last few have remained resolutely aloof, Ms Royal has now provoked the wrath of the Canadian government (!) by saying that she is personally all for it. Sovereignty, that is. Or, to use her exact quote, "I'm in favour of it. Liberty and sovereignty for Quebec reflect our shared common values."

The key word here is liberty. It makes hairs on the neck of an average pro-union Canadian stand up on end, simply because it brings back unpleasant memories of this guy, saying these things. French politicians seem to labour under the delusion that Quebec is some kind of neglected wilderness that the rest of Canada ignores, one step below Northern Ireland in terms of political injustice brough on by the British crown.

Well, err, no.


The truth is that Quebec receives more funding from the federal government than any other province, simply because it has used the very large bargaining chip of threatening sovereignty to extremely good effect over the past 30 years. Quebecers have their own National Assembly where they make their own laws, and have wielded the power of the Office québecoise de la langue française to ensure that French is Quebec's only official language. From a practical point of view, there is not a word of English on any Quebec road signs, business names or shop windows. It has its own public broadcaster, unfortunately titled Radio-Canada, but still entirely in French and watched by the majority of French Quebecers. Its economy has flourished over the past decade, and only seems to suffer when - guess what! - the sovereignty issue starts up again. But most importantly, from the point of view of Quebec separatists, Quebec has now been officially recognised by the Canadian government as a nation. To me, this says that Quebec is free to continue pursuing its policies of preservation and development of the French language and culture, and more power to them.

I used to support Quebec sovereignty for several years, and I don't despise those that still do. All I think now is that French Quebecers best chances of achieving their goals - cultural and economic - are by staying within a united Canada. As such, it doesn't need to be "liberated" from anything.

Ségolène, meanwhile, can count herself lucky that a political shitstorm in Canada tends to translate into a whimper overseas.

3 Comments:

At January 30, 2007 2:32 am, Anonymous JFN said...

Again a nice piece of work! I think the Ségolène Saga will keep on filling out many threads in this blog in the coming months! You really used a neat and colourful argumentation. There is only a small of it I disagree with:

The truth is that Quebec receives more funding from the federal government than any other province, simply because it has used the very large bargaining chip of threatening sovereignty to extremely good effect over the past 30 years.

Let me tell you why this not quite correct. In recent years, all Quebec governments whether they are separatists or not, have been arguing that the federal government is keeping too much money. The problem is simple, Ottawa cuts fund transfers to Quebec - and all the other provinces for that matter - and keep the money to fuel their own expenses. The problem is not about Quebec separatism black mailing the federal government into getting more, it is really about the Canadian government being too stingy!

For more info, check out this
link

 
At January 30, 2007 3:51 pm, Anonymous pig champion RIP said...

"...a political shitstorm in Canada tends to translate into a whimper overseas."

True, and let's be thankful for it. The idea that Quebecois are an oppressed minority is rubbish - they are not Tibetans, Mong or Australian Aborigines FFS.
The creation of a new ethnic nation-state in N.America is probably the last thing the world needs right now.
Given that much of Canada's cohesion is based on it being a non-national state, calling for a Quebec 'country' is a wearying sign that some people still just haven't learned from the jolly old wheeze that was European 'nation building' in the 20th century (two world wars, yugoslavia etc etc)

 
At January 31, 2007 12:41 pm, Blogger Lady M said...

Well said, Pig Champion. I think that the leading lights of the Quebec sovereignty movement are more influenced by lofty idealism and philosophising rather than practicality and hard cold facts. Which, you might say, is a very French way to go about things. :-)

 

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