Am I a Quebecer Yet?

Am I a Quebecer Yet?

LiQ_Mag_Abonnez-vousBy Ross Murray

When Pauline Marois starts appearing in your dreams, it’s probably a sign.

As a rule, sharing your dreams is as dull as sitting in on a Senate committee discussing font selection for tax forms, so let me just share the relevant facts: the Quebec premier was at Subway, and she was eating all alone – just working away on a six-inch steak-and-cheese and staring into space.

Defence Minister Peter Mackay was also there – with an entourage, of course – as was former Conservative MP Barbara MacDougall. She looked more like Sheila Fraser but in my dream state it was Barbara MacDougall all right – a fact that is pertinent only in reminding me to skip the mind-numbing dream details and get to the point.

Point one is that Marois had no friends. Point two is that my subconscious has begun creating scenarios of humiliation for the premier.

Maybe it was because a friend wondered on Facebook whether anyone else thought Marois looked like Honey Boo Boo, but in my 23 years in Quebec, this is the first time a Quebec premier has cameoed in a dream. You would think that Jacques Parizeau would have had me regularly waking up in a cold sweat, but no, he only does that to the current PQ membership.

So does this mean I’m a Quebecer now?

I’m from Nova Scotia, but, having lived away so long, I don’t know if can still call myself a Maritimer. I think I relinquished that right when I quietly admitted to myself that lobster is good but not that good.

But am I a Quebecer?

Certainly the Quebec experience flavours most aspects of my life, and by “flavours,” I mean “aggravates.” My 11-year-old, for example, is learning about Quebec’s resources. When I saw that her textbook referred to the “nationalisation” of hydro-electric power, I let the word slide. Okay, I used air quotes and rolled my eyes, but that’s it. However, when I read in Abby’s notes that “avant, l’électricité était la propriété de compagnies anglaises ou Américaines,” I bristled at the systematic attempt to indoctrinate Quebec children into vilifying “the English” instead of solely scapegoating the Americans like the rest of the world.

There’s no need to outline the hair-pulling outrages of anglo life. We all know that song, and many would say it’s that unwillingness to “embrace our national destiny” (air quotes, eye roll) that prevents me from becoming a Quebecer – heck, that prevents anglos born here from being “true” Quebecers (air quotes, eye roll, smack to forehead, chicken walk).

Nor is it likely necessary to describe that strange phenomenon where you surprise yourself by coming to Quebec’s defence.

I recently un-friended someone on Facebook after she posted a photo of Pauline Marois as Hitler, complete with moustache and swastikas. Please. Until I’m forced to identify myself publicly as English by something other than the squareness of my head, comparing Quebec nationalism to German Nazism is out of line. Honey Boo Boo? Fine. Hitler? Not cool.

That urge to defend Quebec – not to mention giving myself licence to do so – makes me think maybe I am a Quebecer. When I’m overwhelmed by the kindness of my neighbours, though, I’m also a Townshipper. When I imagine all those Tim Horton’s outlets from sea to caffeinated sea, I’m a Canadian. The ocean makes me feel Nova Scotian. I sense my Scottish roots when I realize there’s no way I’m paying that much for lobster. And so on.

In the end, it’s not that I have become a Quebecer but that Quebec has become a part of me. I’m just a guy choosing to live in Quebec, worrying less about identity than dreaming of getting along peacefully, profitably and respectfully with those around me.

Still, if Pauline Marois shows up at my Subway, there’s no way I’m sitting with her.

Categories: News, Opinion

About Author

Ross Murray

Ross Murray is an award-winning humorist and radio contributor and the author of two books ‘You’re Not Going to Eat That, Are You?’ and ‘Don’t Everyone Jump at Once’. Raised in Nova Scotia, Ross has lived in the Eastern Townships of Quebec since the early 1990’s with his wife Debbie, four children and far too many pets. After all this time, Ross feels comfortable calling himself a Townshipper; his neighbours call him something else.


  1. jobp
    jobp 18 February, 2013, 15:14

    Great article with your usual sarcastic undertones. I never quite ‘got’ this whole “what is a Quebecer” thing. It’s so much easier being just a plain ordinary Canadian, like everyone else living in this country; and what makes it even more confusing is the PQ’s new slogan, “Un Quebec pour tous” which gets really upsetting for any anglophone, since we are still being bombarded with new anti-english discrimination laws (bill14) on top of the ones that are already there. So it’s “Un Quebec pour tous” unless your mother tongue is English, because apparently it’s OK to be Italian or Greek or whatever else as long as it’s not the language of Shakespeare. Canada on the other hand really is “Un pays pour tous”.

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