I’ve followed Quebec politics for longer than many of my readers have been alive. I’ve mostly been critical — sometimes harshly so — of separatists and their movement. Mostly because I find it silly. Like a teenager going from “leave me alone” to “can you drive me to the mall?” in a matter of minutes.
I get that Quebecers are different from ROCians. They’re different from francophones outside Quebec itou. I grew up in Quebec and have spent the last 22 years in Ottawa. It’s a difference you can touch.
I spent a few years in law school working with Henri Brun, the legendary constitutional law professor who argued — unsuccessfully — the PQ’s case everywhere including the Supreme Court. He also wrote the constitution of an independent Quebec (in mint condition, still in its original packaging).
I worked with him at the time of Charlottetown, after Meech but before the second referendum. We went through all the possible ways an independent Quebec could cooperate with a truncated rest of Canada, economically and in other ways; exploring all the possible post-divorce arrangements. They were all very costly, as I recall.
I was never a separatist, but also not a federalist. I hate that people in Quebec were forced to choose between two opposite options when the world is far from black and white — or even red and blue.
Anyway, now that we’re past all that, with no referendum on sovereignty coming, not even from Alberta because Albertans are a lot smarter than their caricatural premier, separatist parties keep making noise but since everybody knows they have no real power, they mostly get ignored unless they happen to have a brilliant idea.
Like getting rid of the oath to the monarch. It’s one that’s bothered many people in Canada for a very long time — and not just Quebec separatists either. There’s at least one Ontario MPP, a Liberal, who objected publicly. I’d be willing to bet a solid amount many more quietly agree.
Quebec separatists always hated it, and in 1982 the Quebec legislature enacted a bill adding an oath to the people of Quebec to the existing oath to the monarch.
As I wrote in my Citizen column this week, the National Assembly went further and removed the oath to the monarch. Which as you can imagine is a very popular move in Quebec. It’s just that in theory the Quebec legislature does not have the power to do what it did. It did it anyway.
It’ll be interesting to see if anyone challenges it. Me, I hope other provinces decide to join Quebec and push for a proper constitutional amendment so nobody in Canada is forced to swear allegiance to Charles.
That would be so grown-up of us.