Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Montreal versus Quebec

Henry Aubin wrote a column today that tries to make the point that the Parti Quebecois does not understand or does not care that a secessionist effort would be bad for Montreal.  I think he is close but not quite there.  It is not so much that the PQ is "willfully ignoring Montreal" as much as it is that the PQ is running against Montreal.  In my ten years here, it has been quite clear that a rural vs urban, Montreal vs the Rest of Quebec (ROQ to parallel the ROC of the rest of Canada) divide is perhaps just as important or even more so than the Angophone/Francophone debate. 

Depending on the year, Montreal is:
  • the haven of immigrants that seemingly cannot assimilate into Quebec culture;
  • overrun by non-Francophones;
  • dominated by Anglophones;
  • and so on.
Yet the electoral laws undercount the voters of Montreal and overcount voters elsewhere.  As a result, the major economic engine of Quebec is often under-serviced.

I have no doubt that Aubin is right--that secession would be awful for Montreal and thus bad for the Quebec economy.  I also have no doubt that the PQ largely does not care since its political strategy focuses mostly on getting votes elsewhere by running against Montreal.  It makes sense politically, but as we all know, what is good for a party or a politician can be bad for a state/province/country.  For Kin or Country indeed!

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