January 16, 2013 | 6 Comments
Last year’s Quebec election, when the Parti Quebecois returned to power, only reinforced the perception of many Canadians outside Quebec that the province was spoiled and bigoted, only staying in Canada for the financial gains, discriminating against its minorities and threatening to separate if it didn’t get its way. After four decades of Quebecers in the Prime Minister’s chair, many people were convinced that nothing would satisfy Quebec.
They consider Pierre Trudeau the first Prime Minister to try and impose Quebec’s agenda on the rest of the country, particularly with bilingualism. However, what most people outside Quebec don’t realize is that Trudeau’s efforts were meant to fight Quebec nationalism, and impose an agenda that would undermine any claim that Quebec was a distinct society in Canada. The rest of the country-rather reluctantly, in some cases-accepted bilingualism and multiculturalism as a way of accommodating Quebecers and making them feel more at home in Canada. However, when separatism persisted, many Canadians in the rest of the country thought Quebec was acting in bad faith.
This is because of what I call the “Trudeau Paradox”, whereby Trudeau’s ideas and visions became more more popular outside Quebec than inside it, even as most other Canadians thought that Trudeau was imposing Quebec’s agenda on the rest of the country. This created the fundamental misunderstanding that nearly wrecked the country in 1995, and has undermined Canadian unity for more than three decades.
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