For the past 30 years, support for independence has been remarkably stable at 40 per cent, except for two brief periods (after the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and in the last weeks of the 1995 referendum campaign). That stability has frustrated separatists, whose constant efforts to convince Quebecers to follow them has fallen on a majority of deaf ears. It also confuses Canadians outside the province, who wonder why on Earth so many Quebecers still believe that separation would be good for Quebec. Hasn't the province become one of the most prosperous regions on Earth (Statistics Canada announced yesterday that Quebec's unemployment rate had gone down to 7.3 per cent, significantly lower than Ontario's)? Aren't French-speaking Quebecers in control of their province's political and economic affairs? Doesn't Quebec receive billions in equalization payments, thanks to which Quebec taxpayers can afford very generous social programs?
For older separatists, these facts do not compensate for the historical wrongs – their list is endless – suffered by French Canadians since the 1763 conquest. Theirs is generally an emotional nationalism, although rationalized by political and economic arguments.
Younger separatists' reasons for supporting independence are different. They are full of confidence in themselves and therefore do not fear separation. They travel all over the world to study, work and visit but have never found a reason to go to Toronto or Vancouver, let alone St. John's or Regina. To them, the rest of Canada is a foreign country, with a different culture and different values. They see the election of a majority Harper government and Quebecers' massive vote for the NDP as the latest demonstration of the unbridgeable canyon between Quebec and English Canada. They believe the federal system is inefficient and that Quebec could better tackle the challenges it faces if it had all the tools of government in its possession.
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Why are so many young Quebecers still sovereigntists? It's cooler
Andre Pratte of La Presse: