stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
Why Quebec is spurning Dion: the compact myth
space
space
By WILLIAM JOHNSON
Author and a former president of Alliance Quebec
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 – Page A19

No, it's not possible. Can the federal Liberals have plunged so low in their once impregnable Quebec fortress? Some finger Stéphane Dion. Others smell poison lingering from the sponsorship scandal. But another factor, more fundamental, goes ignored: "the compact between the two founding peoples."

Brian Mulroney described it in his senior-college-year essay, according to his biographer, L. Ian MacDonald: "To the French, [Confederation] is a pact between French and English, which guarantees each group an equal right to its own faith, language, laws and customs." In fact, this compact theory is a myth. It was first enunciated in 1904 by nationalist icon Henri Bourassa; its progression is traced by political scientist Stéphane Paquin in his 1999 book, L'invention d'un mythe: Le pacte entre deux peuples fondateurs.

Soon taken up by nationalist historian Lionel Groulx, this invention spread among historians, then politicians. By the 1950s, it was articulated as the foundational fact of Canada by a royal commission launched by Maurice Duplessis. It's been the doctrine of every Quebec premier since, turning into an axiom, a historic grievance and a vision for reconstructing Canada. And every premier's duty is to rewrite the Constitution to make Quebec as equal as possible to English Canada.

Jean Lesage: "Today's Quebec must possess and control ... the economic, social, administrative and political levers that will enable it to realize its legitimate aspirations as an adult people." Daniel Johnson Sr. threw down an ultimatum: "Égalité ou indépendence." Under Claude Ryan, the Quebec Liberal Party published its constitutional policy, Une nouvelle fédération canadienne: "This reform aims above all at inscribing in the fundamental law of Canada the principle of the equality of the two peoples that founded modern Canada."

That included the right to secede at will, the abolition of the Senate, the transfer of all residual powers to the provinces and the repeal of the federal power "to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada." Such was the constitutional policy on which Robert Bourassa's Liberals were elected in 1985.

But the platform cautioned: "The current context is not favourable to a comprehensive reform of Canadian federalism. And so we must adopt a pragmatic approach and proceed in stages." And so Mr. Bourassa put forward five conditions for recognizing that Quebec was bound by the 1982 Constitution Act. Meech Lake was only to set the stage for later, as Mr. Bourassa's justice minister signalled, "the Quebec government wanted to establish on a solid basis the foundations of a comprehensive constitutional reform to come in a second stage of negotiations."

The "two founding peoples" doctrine clashed with the political culture of Canada. And so a constant tug of war emerged as Quebeckers voted simultaneously for politicians in Ottawa and Quebec City who were at odds with each other. Mr. Duplessis fought with Louis St. Laurent, Lester Pearson with Mr. Lesage, Pierre Trudeau with Daniel Johnson Sr., with Mr. Bourassa and René Lévesque. And this paradox was an accepted part of Quebec's political culture. The political class pushed for two founding peoples, and ordinary Quebeckers kept voting Liberal federally.

Mr. Trudeau patriated the Constitution against the Péquiste majority in the National Assembly, but all remained quiet. Polls showed support for secession dropping between 1980 and 1987, the year of Meech Lake. But everything changed after Mr. Mulroney thundered against patriation - and so the Constitution - as leaving Quebec betrayed, humiliated, isolated. The magician's conjuring proved so effective that ordinary Quebeckers converted to his view that the federal Liberals were guilty of high lèse-Québec.

Eventually, Mr. Mulroney and his Conservatives were discredited across Canada. But, instead of turning back to the Liberals, Quebeckers drew the logical conclusion of Mr. Mulroney's revisionism and voted for the Bloc Québécois.

The rest of the country turned the page on the Mulroney era after Stephen Harper reunified the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives. But, in Quebec, his influence lives on.

Quebeckers had accepted patriation, had accepted Mr. Trudeau's rejection of "two founding peoples," of special status, "distinct society," and his refusal in 1980 to be bound by the results of the referendum on sovereignty-association. But now, thanks to Mr. Mulroney, the Liberals are distrusted in Quebec, and Stéphane Dion is spurned for his Plan B and the Clarity Act.

Quebec will fit uneasily in the federation so long as it is governed by the myth of the two founding peoples.


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main William_Johnson Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page