Straight Talk
ERIC DUHAIME - Hard look at ‘soft ethnocide’ in Quebec

The Quebec Flag are seen over looking the Ottawa River from the Civilization Museum behind Parliament Hill in Gatineau



Are French-Canadians truly victims of a "soft ethnocide" by the federal government as proclaimed by a Parti Quebecois-funded report tabled last Monday?

No matter how ridiculous the accusation sounds, when it comes from the governing party in Quebec, we need to take a serious look at it.

The report was written by the Quebec Sovereignty Council, as part of phase one of its Estates-General on Quebec Sovereignty.

It identified 92 political and economic issues that have undermined Quebec and justify an exit from the Canadian federation.

Historically, Quebec's separatist movement has denounced the fact that La Belle Province was contributing much more to the federation than it received in return from Ottawa, which was true for a long period prior to 1960.

Now that today's economic reality cannot be denied - that Quebec is a net recipient - the movement explains the economic dependency of the francophone province as a structural dysfunction.

According to separatist leaders, at the awakening of separatism half a century ago, we needed to break up the country because Quebec was the milk cow province.

Now we need to break up the country because Quebec is the main welfare beneficiary.

Go figure.

What happened that could explain Quebec's decline and the so-called assimilation of francophones?

What if it had everything to do with economic decisions made by politicians and very little to do with constitutional ones?

Instead of blaming the long-gun registry, the energy policy or the new constituencies created outside of Quebec, let's try another explanation.

The year 1960 marked the start of what we call in Quebec the Quiet Revolution, where the state went from the least interventionist in North America to the most interventionist.

Both federalist and sovereigntist politicians tried to buy voters by ballooning the size of government, offering public services and goods we couldn't afford, and shoving the burden on the backs of future generations.

The ends - saving or breaking up the country - justified the means.

During the process, the Parti Quebecois became more socialist and less separatist. Nowadays, it confuses both as we can read in this week's report.

If the PQ were true to its ideal of independence, it would be the strongest ally of the Western Conservatives' bid to decentralize and downsize the federal state.

Unfortunately, the PQ is now so addicted to big government and handcuffed by unions that it confuses cutting the fat in Ottawa with anti-francophone sentiments.

Just a quick fact check: There have never been as many immigrants within Quebec who freely choose French as their language of work. Bilingualism is at an historic high among anglo-Quebecers.

French immersion programs have never been as popular in the rest of Canada.

And English-Canadians have never given as much money to Quebec, been so generous in terms of equalization payments.

When you take that into account, it gets less easy to talk about "soft ethnocide" and more evident that we are probably dealing instead with a developed form of "spoiled brat-ism."

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