Jeffrey Simpson is an intelligent guy, not one of these cowboys. Yesterday in La Presse, he came out with his usual twist. Basically, Québécois are spoiled brats, they are ‘using’ Canada like a ‘cash machine’. They should be disciplined at some point, and politicians should warn them clearly, ‘accept the rules of the games or else…’ He was very angry that apparently, Québécois will vote for the Bloc Tuesday.

Stephen Harper in a desperate move today in Québec City said something like that, ‘you will be punished’. Stephen is ‘warning’ us, ‘you will pay the price’. The next Conservative government will make us suffer because we won’t have voted for them.

A few years back when a bum called ‘Lord’ Black was around, he (or maybe his wife) said that sane Canadians should do with Quebec like Israel is doing with the Palestinians. ‘Give them a little piece of land between Trois-Rivières and Chicoutimi. Let’s liberate ourselves from these semi humans’ since ‘there is nothing we can to civilize them really’. If the small guy does not agree, he needs to be punished. First, the empire will try to teach them a lesson or two. If it does not work, we can always confine, isolate, make them pay. Because for sure, ‘they are not going to be able to rule themselves’.

In the meanwhile, Québécois have no reason at all to claim their rights. It’s ‘take it or leave it’. The fact that the constitution was imposed on Quebec is a ‘technical problem’. If Quebec’s economy is always on the edge, it’s because ‘Québécois do not know how to do business’. Quebec’s political culture is inherently ‘corrupted’ (from Duplessis to Jean Chrétien). Discrimination against French speakers in the federal state or in provinces where they were denied their basic rights is a myth. And on and on.

In the imaginary of the imperial mindset, the colonized has to love the colonizer. He has to understand that he depends on the power holder. He has to know that the empire does it for the good of the small people. The savages have to accept. After all, ‘we are here to save you, to teach you, to civilize you’. ‘we cannot accept that you don’t love us’.

A few years back, the poet Michèle Lalonde, said it well:

speak white
de Westminster à Washington relayez-vous
speak white comme à Wall Street
white comme à Watts
be civilized
et comprenez notre parler de circonstance
quand vous nous demandez poliment
how do you do
et nous entendez vous répondre
we’re doing all right
we’re doing fine
are not alone

Said brutally like ‘Lord’ Black or politely like Simpson, it comes to the same thing which is frightfully shared by many Canadians. Worse than that, nice Canadians (I remember one in a conference hosted by the Social Justice Center from Toronto) will tell us, ‘but we love you’. The idea that the colonial history and its legacy distort this land and the peoples living in it is not understandable.

Jack Layton in substance does not say the contrary. Yesterday in Montreal, he said he would ‘fix’ federalism to make it ‘asymmetrical’ so that it would be more ‘convenient’ for Quebec. He could not (or was it too much to ask), to say the R word: you have the right to decided on your own destiny’ …


Pierre Beaudet

Pierre was active in international solidarity and social movements in Quebec, and was the founder of Quebec NGO Alternatives, and Editor of the Nouveaux cahiers du socialisme. He blogged on in...