Caroline Castonguay-Boisvert was one of several Quebecois to respond to my blog agreeing with much of my analysis of the Quebec NDP vote and welcoming the invitation to work more closely together. Here is her response:
I see you have received a lot of attention from us, people who live in Quebec. I agree with what you say, and I wish more people outside of Quebec would understand it. It saddens me that Harper didn’t get the message, when really, he should listen for the sake of Canadian unity.
We vote NDP because we were (and are even more now) scared of a Harper majority. We wanted to stop the Conservatives so that all we love about Canada is not taken away, as some of it is already gone.
What is it that we love in Quebec some would say? We love equality among individuals. Our colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation or any other thing that would make us different is just that one thing that makes us so unique. And we celebrate it. We also have a very strong artistic community, a very “Québécoise” one I would even say. One of our way of expressing ourselves to each other and to the world is through arts. And that are just two things, because stating them all here would be long, and I think that you described it well in your blog.
What makes us so different is this strong social movement we have here in Quebec. We are not communist, but we like our public institutions, we like to have the power over our own resources and to protect each other from harm. We also have a strong reluctance towards anything that involves war.
One thing that many young people like me remember is their parents saying how Canada was trustworthy internationally. How we were a country that was look up to when others wanted to improve some part of their systems. That when you travelled, saying you were Canadian would make you well received. And now that we are old enough to vote and go abroad, this is no longer true. And this makes us sad, and angry, and we accuse (with just reasons) the Harper government for this.
A lot of us (including me) love Canada. I’ve seen almost every province, I’ve been from coast to coast and loved my fellow Canadian citizens. And the ROC tends to think that being a separatist is being closed minded and selfish. There is nothing further from the truth. We would much like to stay in Canada, and have our ideals be represented in federal institutions.
The problem is, a lot of people in Quebec don’t speak English and a lot of people outside Quebec don’t speak French, which makes it hard for the “two solitude” to understand each other. I am bilingual, born and raised in French, and started truly understanding what bothers each side so much only when I learned English.
The separatist movement was slowing down before this election, the youth was less attracted by it than they were 15 years ago. Upon seeing the elections results map though, most of us, anglophone, francophone or allophone have had a really bad feeling. It’s like we fought so hard to protect our rights and Canada failed us. I don’t mean to say that everybody else should have voted against Conservatives (although I really do resent their thinking) but that it shows us how much difference there is between us.
And that is not a question of language, because I well know that anglophones in Quebec voted NDP alongside everybody else. It is striking to see that a government who we didn’t vote for is the one who is going to decide our fate. And that has brought the separatist movement back on the map for sure. It was a kick for those who weren’t sure or those who really liked Canada (like me) and thought that we could make it work.
Like you say, I would be tremendously happy if we could learn to understand each other and form a country where nobody feels left aside by the institution in power. I would be very surprised if it happened though, considering that the Conservative majority will probably destroy our faith in Canada.
If you want to read more responses, check out Transforming Power.