For some reason, an advocate of the Option Nationale Party engaged in me a twitter conversation this evening. He argued that independence would help un-freeze the currently lousy status quo. Certainly. But a quick look at the program of the party, which he said I should consider, tells me that the Option Nationale is no option at all for the Anglophones and other minorities in Quebec.
It would do much of what the PQ promises to do without the hedging. CEGEPS would be restricted to French for Francophones and immigrants. Funding of universities would be more proportionate, which would mean cutting McGill, Concordia and Bishop's. Those who partook of free education would have to contribute back to society--suggesting prevention of emigration to Canada/elsewhere, right? Free higher ed? How to pay for that? Who gets it?
The program is quite clearly not interested in making non-Francophones feel comfortable or even equal, so why bother appeal to them? Yes, Anglophones are sick of the Liberals who have been in power for ten years and are quite corrupt. But this platform of the O.N. is not about public service and good governance. It is about inflicting nationalism on all institutions--why would a minority want that. Is there anything in this that would make a minority feel as if they have a stake in the system? That their rights would be protected and their interests influential? No.
Yes, the nationalist discourse is a tremendous distraction from focusing on good governance, but it not clear how a nationalist party would be the right choice. And, yes, I have full confidence that an independent Quebec would still have parties competing with each other about how best to deprive the minorities rather than focus on good governance.
Thus, I am only confused by one thing--why should a sovereigntist like this engage me? I am absolutely everything that such folks stand against. Except I left. Hmmm.
The nationalist did ask me the right question: what is the resolution? My answer is demographic change. The more the old nationalists fade away, the more immigrants gain citizenship, the less relevance the nationalist cause will have at election time. Some party may eventually emerge and promise good governance. The CAQ might be it. The NDP farm team might be it. The Liberals might find defeat to be what they need to reconstitute. But much of Quebec is tired of the nationalist discourse. The Francophones have won every battle except independence. And if they become independent, Quebec will lose. It will lose the subsidies that Canada provides, it will lose cache in the rest of the world, since no one really cares about Quebec that much besides some old nationalists in France. It will be marginal, except for producing some electricity for NY and New England. Oh, and asbestos for India.
Perhaps that is wishful thinking on my part. I do expect Quebec to be stuck in this rut for quite a while. But eventually a party/leader will emerge that will persuade enough people to focus on good governance rather than on identity divisions. Hopefully, that will not take too long and that non-nationalist will be the best thing for the distinct society.