Canada Day – A National Day of Protest in Quebec

Canada Day – A National Day of Protest in Quebec

Submitted by Peter Stuart


Well well now, what do we have here: A ‘National Day of Protest’ in Montréal and Quebec City. It would appear that everything in the Province of Québec is now ‘National’, including the dissatisfaction with the state of the ‘Nation’ which isn’t even a ‘state’! 

I think that this is ultimately what it’s all about. The separatists, if you listen to their spokespersons carefully in French in the French-language media, are all talking openly about a ‘Québec Spring’, and a ‘National Awakening’ or ‘Reawakening’. They’re all hoping to turn what started out as a fairly innocuous conflict about raising tuition for post-secondary education and turn it into a massive leitmotif for a province-wide protest against everything that the provincial and federal governments stand for. 

Essentially they will stop at nothing short of bringing down the provincial government in the now much-anticipated fall election by massively mobilizing the student and youth vote to vote against the Liberals, so that the secessionist PQ party can hopefully get back in and they can have a third vote on secession. 

The likes of Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois have said it publically that this uprising is not just about tuition hikes but part of a wider groundswell of discontent against the pro-business, pro-Canadian, pro-English language, and pro-American policies of the current Liberal administration. Although the current administration does not have a good record in fighting graft and corruption in this province, it still remains the only viable and unequivocally and avowedly pro-business, pro-Canadian, pro English language, and pro-American party at the provincial level in this province. 

The P.Q. party is avowedly secessionist and is still populated by a large cohort of Social-Democrat ideologues who’re anti-business and who still seek to nationalize a lot of sectors of the economy. The CAQ party is a right wing pro-business party, but with a quirky quasi-autonomist stance on nationalism, with large numbers of right wing PQ secessionists in its ranks pulling the strings from behind the scenes. 

So essentially this leaves us with Jean Charest and the Liberals. Essentially Québecers, after a long, hot summer of protests, street closures, disturbing images on TV and the web, and a constant barrage of abuse from the mouths of our own home-grown ‘springtime’ revolutionaries, will be asked to go to the polls and choose between the lesser of three evils: Either hold their noses and vote Liberal and be saved from another referendum on secession, but be stuck with the same ingrained discontent. Or vote P.Q., and wind up with Princess Pauline in power and be stuck with another vote on secession and all of the divisive consequences that that will entail for the social fabric of our society. Or vote CAQ and wind up with a former secessionist cabinet minister as Premier who’ll have vowed to put the secession issue on the back burner for 10 years while we focus on cleaning up corruption, getting the economy going, slaying the deficit and debt, and fixing our schools. 

In the first and third scenarios, we’d get to die another day. In the second, we’d probably die sooner, figuratively speaking that is. Or not. Depends what happens. In any case, life is never boring in the land of ‘Je me Souviens’. I just wish we’d remember the right things. Like how the history of our twin colonial heritage gave us a society based on the rule of law and due process of law, the Writ of Habeas Corpus. Parliament. The printed word. Civil Law and Common Law. Two Official Languages. A shared love of democracy, justice, equality and fairness. A common sense of Nordicity, of living in a northern climate where the cold and the wide open expanses of geography and sparse population have forced us all to bunch together both literally and figuratively in virtual communities across this country to share our common interests and concerns. 

It’s all about how two of the greatest linguisto-cultural traditions of this planet came together in Imperial struggle, but have chosen, sometimes despite ourselves, to soldier on together as one federation of citizens, united under the banner of the Maple Leaf. It’s also how two of the greatest juridico-legal traditions, theatrical, literary, military, cultural, intellectual, religious and sporting traditions have united to form one federation of citizens who are now at a strategic juncture of our existence. 

We are not beholden unto our past. We are not bound to repeat its mistakes, nor remain the prisoners of its legacy. We are duty-bound, nay we have the honour and the privilege to transcend and metaphysically surmount the stalemated bitterness of the outcomes with which our forebears have saddled us, despite the best hopes and good willingness of the bulk of our fellow citizens. 

So in these days of ‘National Protest’ in our Province, cradle of the federation, I wish I could wish you a ‘Happy St-Jean Baptiste Day’, but the patron Saint of my home province is no longer even acknowledged in official public discourse as the wave of secular discontent and dissonance continues to pour out over this most sacred of homelands. 

Instead I offer you the best wishes of a Nation, one whose Charter of Rights still espouses that it is based on the ‘…supremacy of God and the rule of law.’ A land which hails itself as the True North Strong and Free. So we will stand on guard for thee, O Canada, because you shall ‘protègera nos foyers et nos droits’. 

Happy Canada Day folks. God Bless.

About the author:

Peter Stuart is a freelance writer based in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. He has a degree in Canadian Studies from the University of Ottawa.
He has written Op-Ed pieces for the last ten years for publications including: Le Soleil, La Presse, Quebec Chronicle Telegraph and Impact Campus.
Peter writes in both French and English, and and has published his first book, entitled ‘The Catholic Faith and the Social Construction of Religion: With Particular Attention to the Québec Experience’.

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