Yesterday, Pauline Marois announced that Quebecers will be going to the polls on April 7th. She is prepared to defend her Charter of Values. But she has said nothing about holding a third referendum.
In 1980, my wife and I voted in the first referendum. But by 1995, like many of our generation, we had left Quebec -- not so much by choice but from necessity. I began my teaching career at a new high school in the Eastern Townships. The school's population was 1,100 students. By the time we left twelve years later -- because of Quebec's language law and a weak economy -- the school's enrolment was 300. We thought we better leave before they turned out the lights.
There are some who say that separatism is no longer an issue in Quebec. But, in the Toronto Star, Tom Walkom refers to Fredrick Nietzsche's definition of history. It was, said Nietzsche, “the unconditional and infinitely repeated circular course of all things.”
Walkom then turns his attention to the subject of separation:
Certainly, separatism has been dismissed before. The PQ’s failure to win a referendum on sovereignty in 1980 was thought then to have put paid to the issue.
In 1989, with support for separatism hovering near 40 per cent, sovereignty was said to be dead and buried, The PQ’s then leader, Jacques Parizeau, was routinely dismissed as a fossil from another time.
Young people, we were told then, had abandoned sovereignty and become internationally minded.
But anyone who dismisses Quebec nationalism as a spent force doesn't understand Quebec. Certainly, Stephen Harper doesn't understand Quebec. In fact, his contempt for all the provinces gives sovereignists the best argument they have ever had for separation.
I make no predictions this morning about this election. But I do feel uncomfortable -- because we are again going to experience the circular course of things.