[Lgpolicy-list] [lg policy] Canada: Don Macpherson: The 'open nationalism' of the Coalition Avenir Québec's François Legault
hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu Nov 6 16:16:21 UTC 2014
Don Macpherson: The 'open nationalism' of the Coalition Avenir Québec's
Don Macpherson, Montreal Gazette More from Don Macpherson, Montreal
Published on: November 5, 2014Last Updated: November 5, 2014 4:00 PM EST
[image: Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault responds to
reporters questions before entering a party caucus meeting as the
legislature reconvenes for its fall session, Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at
the legislature in Quebec City.]
Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault responds to reporters
questions before entering a party caucus meeting as the legislature
reconvenes for its fall session, Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at the
legislature in Quebec City.
Jacques Boissinot / CP
In François Legault’s newly coined “open nationalism,” the nationalism is
more apparent than the openness.
The Coalition Avenir Québec leader outlined his “vision” in his closing
speech to the party’s convention on the weekend
He said the CAQ is nationalist, and that his “first loyalty goes to
Quebec.” But the Coalition’s nationalism was not “timid, nostalgic and
marked by turning in on oneself.” Rather, it was affirmative and
constructive, reflecting “pride in our past” while being “respectful of
He said Quebecers are “a people who is sure of itself, that has no desire
to play the victim.” It was obvious that Quebec is not “a province like the
others,” but rather “a nation built on a history, a language, a culture and
The CAQ leader would shelve the constitutional issue until Quebec was
self-sufficient economically — that is, no longer needing to receive
equalization payments from Ottawa. In the current fiscal year, Quebec is
receiving $9.3 billion in equalization payments, which are intended to
enable poorer provinces to provide services comparable to those in
wealthier ones, at comparable levels of taxation.
In the meantime, he said, the Quebec government must be the “architect
(maître d’oeuvre)” of language policy in the province.
In particular, the federal government must not challenge Quebec’s language
legislation and must apply the legislation’s provisions on the language of
work to businesses under federal jurisdiction, such as banks.
And the Quebec government must “take all measures so that French is fully
respected as the language of service and the language of work, especially
Legault said the defence of French is “not a refusal of other languages,”
but “a question of survival of our identity,” requiring constant effort and
Finally, he said, because of Quebec’s “distinct character,” its government,
which now selects 70 per cent of the international immigrants to the
province, must be able to select all of them.
He summed up his “open nationalism” as a third option in Quebec politics,
between Parti Québécois referendums on independence and the “soft
federalism” of the Quebec Liberal Party.
Legault made it the central theme of a major speech to his party at a
time when it is threatened by a renewed polarization of Quebec provincial
politics on the constitutional question.
In his speech, he said the general election last April 7 marked “the end of
an era” and showed that Quebecers no longer want politics “dominated by the
division between sovereignists and federalists.”
Recent poll results
suggest, however, that if Pierre Karl Péladeau becomes PQ leader, the CAQ
would lose support both to the PQ and especially to the federalist Liberals.
In his attempt to shore up his party’s “soft” nationalist support, Legault
would replace the old division over Quebec’s secession from Canada with a
new one, between nationalists and non-nationalists.
In his speech, which he delivered entirely in French, he all but ignored
the province’s minorities, except for the future immigrants to be selected
by Quebec instead of Ottawa.
His call for “all measures so that French is fully respected as the
language of service and the language of work” means extending
“francization” requirements to small businesses, which the CAQ has opposed
Extending the requirements on the language of work to businesses under
federal jurisdiction would give rights to French-speaking Quebecers enjoyed
by no other official-language community in the country. This would mean
asymmetrical language rights, with English no longer having equal status
with French under the federal government, which could threaten acceptance
of official bilingualism in English Canada.
And giving the Quebec government control over federal language policy in
the province could jeopardize minority rights, which are something else
Legault didn’t mention in his speech.
dmacpherson at montrealgazette.com
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