by John Robson
Happy Canada Day. We don’t care if Quebec leaves.
Does that seem an unseemly topic for our national holiday? Well, I personally draw not just comfort but pride from a new poll showing 49% of us outside Quebec “don’t really care” if it separates.
Once upon a time such a survey would have occasioned much hand-wringing, soul-searching, and a desperate race by clueless anglo politicians to prove they, and they alone, could manage a reconciliation with Quebec despite such intransigent paleolithic xenophobia by the unworthy dolts who elected them. Today there’s more of a “Well, duh” feel about it. And rightly so.
It’s not a matter of being anti-Quebec. It’s a matter of being fed up with Quebecers’ alternating disinterest in and hostility toward us, and refusing to treat their contempt as justified.
Back in the 1970s, having just taken three hits of Pierre Trudeau, a lot of Canadians were proud of our bilingual identity. Not that we could actually speak French. But we thought it made us cosmopolitan and wonderfully open-minded to have imaginary francophone friends. We were young and the world lay before us and we were in love. Not sure if it was with La Belle Province or our own self-image. But it was infatuation and it was intoxicating.
Twenty years later, despite a big mortgage and a series of angry quarrels, we still remembered our youth. And when the lady in blue threatened to move out we rushed to Montreal with flags and flowers and painted faces and said please please don’t leave us, we can change.
Seventeen years later, we’ve done pretty well at keeping our word. We’re a good partner and frankly a good catch. But she’s still either cold or shrill. And we’re not blaming ourselves any more.
Why is this good news? Because it’s one more way “Canada” seems to be recovering its self-respect. That is of course a sweeping generalization. I know there are millions of Canadians outside Quebec still passionately attached to the two-founding-nations model. (And not a few who would actively vote Quebec out if they could.) But still I see signs of hope in all sorts of places.
The newfound respect for the military, for example, celebrating our tradition as fighters for freedom while official institutions like OC Transpo observe “wear red Friday.” I also like recent changes to our immigration laws. Instead of acting as though we feel lucky when foreigners deign to accept our shabby hospitality, we’re treating our citizenship as valuable. Again, it’s not anti-immigrant. It’s about welcoming newcomers as the latest to earn membership in a very special club.
Is there still a lot wrong with Canada? Yes. Including that we adopted far too much of the “Quebec model.” Has the fight to take our country back from the socialists, relativists and whiners succeeded? Not by 5,780 country miles.
Praise for the military has gone along with gutting it. And politicians from Harper to McGuinty spend wildly, meddle in our affairs and otherwise patronize us at huge cost while showing no real sign of believing Canadians are the sturdy, independent, resourceful people clearly evident in our history.
Still, the willingness to stand up to the nagging of Quebec nationalists instead of appeasing it, to say this is a great country so love it or leave it, is an important sign that an addiction to groveling is not a core Canadian value. We know perfectly well this country doesn’t stink, and if you’re not happy here there’s something wrong with you and you can take your complaints to people who care in some loser place like the UN.
As I said, Happy Canada Day. And if your “national” day was last week, we don’t want to hear about it.
Categories: Contributor Columns