Canadian Flag and Quebec Flag are seen over looking the Ottawa River from the Civilization Museum behind Parliament Hill in Gatineau
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
MONTREAL -- English Canadian provinces are perpetrating a "quiet ethnocide" of French Canadians that only Quebec sovereignty can stop, says a new report.
The document, sponsored in part by the Parti Quebecois, says the proportion of French-speaking Canadians is declining by the year and it blames Canada for 92 "blockages" to Quebec's development.
The list of grievances in the 32-page document includes accusations that Canada wants to "eliminate French" from coast to coast. It even referenced the 1839 Durham Report that recommended the assimilation of Quebecers into Upper Canada.
"From the Durham Report to report the hanging of Louis Riel ... to Ontario's ... desire to close Montfort Hospital, the Canadian government allows the majority anglophone provinces to commit quiet ethnocide against the Acadian and French-Canadian minority," the report states.
Study co-author Gilbert Paquette says the only way French Canadians can remain strong is if Quebec separates from Canada.
"We think that an independent Quebec could better support the francophones outside Quebec who want to continue to maintain their francophone character while still remaining in Canada," he told QMI Agency in an interview.
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois proposed the provincial sovereignty tour in 2011 when she was still the opposition leader.
The committee of hardline separatists visited 13 cities and towns, but their report makes no mention of the estimated 70% of Quebecers who have rejected the sovereignist option.
Quebecers have twice voted to stay in Canada, and support for sovereignty has been on a steep decline.
The PQ was returned to power in September, but with a minority government that's outnumbered by federalist parties in the 125-seat legislature.
Though Marois has pledged to toughen language laws and demand more powers from Ottawa, it's not clear if her policies will fly with the opposition Liberals and centrist CAQ party.
English rights activist Beryl Wajsman says the report's use of the word ethnocide is "immoral" and that the report is "full of lies."
He points to the claim that Quebec is losing money to the rest of Canada when in fact Quebec collects billions of dollars in provincial tax and will receive $7.83 billion in equalization in 2013-14 - twice as much as any other province.
He says the separatist report contains another lie - that Canada is inhospitable to French people.
"We have spent so much of our treasure and talent and time to be inclusive, however imperfect ... while in Quebec every PQ government has spent their talent and treasure to do those injustices by rule," he said.
In Ottawa, Heritage Minister James Moore declined to comment on the report, saying Canadians didn't want "to revisit old disputes."
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair called the report's language "particularly inappropriate."
They left it to Liberal Leader Bob Rae to savage the group that used the term "ethnocide" in reference to Quebec.
"That is not the case in Canada, and people who say that it is, frankly, are just I think bringing discredit upon themselves with that kind of exaggeration and also doing a real disservice to people who are living in real conditions of difficulty around the world," said Rae.
- with files from Daniel Proussalidis