Estates-General on Quebec Sovereignty: A Distinction With A Difference

By Beryl Wajsman on February 11, 2013

So often, we become immune to the nationalist nonsense coming out of Quebec. It all becomes so much white noise. Many would tell us that we've taken so many punches that the latest is simply a distinction without a difference.

Once in a long while - sadly - we get off our lethargy and remember that we are Canadians - not just Quebecers - and that we are imbued with inalienable rights. That is what is happening now in the reaction of anglophones and francophones against Bill 14. Our civil rights matter!

But last week we saw something come out of the leviathan of sovereignist infrastructure that should excite our contempt as much as Bill 14 has. That "something" is the report of the Estates-General on Quebec Sovereignty that concludes that Quebec's membership in Canada has allowed for the "soft ethnicide" of francophones. It is a contemptuous conclusion to a report that is nothing but a bodyguard of lies.

If Canada is supposedly practicing "soft ethnicide," what should we call the decades of culture war perpetrated by various PQ governments against a million and a half non-francophone Quebecers? The report, naturally, does not go near that most obvious of questions.

Activists and commentators who have used phrases like "cultural genocide" or "ethnic cleansing" to describe PQ policies are regularly denounced by other non-francophones for using words that are too strong. The writers and speakers who use them have gone too far, it is said, bringing up shadows of tyrannical regimes in other eras or in other places. We ask today, where is the condemnation from francophone circles for the use of the word "ethnicide?" The silence is deafening. Is that also a distinction without a difference? Is political correctness only one-sided?Are we so immune, or so scared, that we forgive this indecency in our public discourse? Shame on us!

And what does this "ethnicide" consist of according to the perverse authors of this report. Well, they list 92 - yes 92 - examples. And what are these "egregious" acts that account for this indictment? Let us cite just a few of the lies. The report says that Quebec loses money in Canada because it sends tax dollars to the federal level. It fails to mention that Quebec is also the only province with its own revenue department and as a "have-not" province receives a net $12 billion more from Ottawa in transfer payments than it sends. The report also complains that the new federal riding redistricting gives Quebec 3 more federal seats while giving 27 to the rest of the country. It omits to inform readers that these changes are done every ten years when the census is done and simply reflect population changes. Oh, we forgot, the authors probably want Quebec to get more as compensation for Quebec's "grievances." The report goes on to warn about the "threat" to French in Quebec because some 8.3% of kids in Montreal go to English schools. Of course it fails to mention that just 25 years ago the percentage in English schools was approaching 20%. It even condemns Canada for building ships only in BC and Nova Scotia. Of course the fact that those provinces are on oceans is not mentioned. Dear readers, we need not go on. You get the picture

What makes this report even more repulsive is that it was done with our money. The Estates-General is a consultative group that works closely with the division on "democratic sovereign governance" that is part of the Ministry of Democratic Institutions. An Orwellian title if ever there was one. Pauline Marois had promised to institute this entity and she kept her word. Kept her word so well that just a week before this report was released, this whole complex of sovereignist propaganda had it's budget raised by ten million dollars. Looks like even in a time of austerity there is money for the "projet national." By some accounts, all the monies in all the pro-sovereignty programs now total $88 million!

All that money for lies and bigger lies. The PQ has learned the lessons of Stalin well. Repeat big lies often enough and the broad mass of the people will come to believe them. That's the great and agonizing danger. That's what makes this pernicious Estates-General report a distinction with a difference. It is a virus that cannot be left unchecked. It is time to close it's doors.

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Beryl P. Wajsman

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