Friday, January 13, 2012

Two Solitudes Indeed

Interesting piece at the NYT about how Quebec is already sovereign culturally.  It focuses on a Quebec francophone mock news show that focuses nearly entirely on Quebec, and the author suggests that this means that Quebec is culturally independent even as (or perhaps facilitating?) the temporary coma in which the political independence movement is. 

As a long-time (ten years) resident of Quebec,* I am both not surprised by this analysis and a bit critical.  I am not surprised because Quebeckers do think of themselves as a distinct society and have wanted recognition of that fact.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper recognized that reality when he cared about votes here.  He does not any longer given his recent trend of decisions destined to annoy folks here, such as appointing unilingual Anglophones to a bunch of spots.  Anyhow, Quebec is distinct.  Got it. 

I am a bit critical because a one hour program or so is not necessarily representative and Quebeckers do care a great deal about what goes on in Ottawa, at least as far as I can tell.  They care, for instance, about Team Canada in hockey, not just how miserable the Canadiens are these days.  Of course, I don't watch much TV in French, so perhaps the report is correct.

Still, the point of this post is to point folks who are curious about the Quebec/Canada dynamic to an interesting angle.  I do think that one of the reasons why sovereignty is not so popular these days is precisely because the Francophones have won all of the big battles, including having heaps of cultural outlets that remain en francais.

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