Although still unsuccessful in establishing themselves as a sovereign nation-state - largely because many among that it is the proper course of action to satisfy their national aspirations - they now exercise quasi - absolute control over a strong provincial state with extensive legal, administrative, and policymaking jurisdiction. The Quebec state has come to occupy a highlu significant place in the political culture of Quebec. Quebec, many would argue, has become a virtual state within the state.
French-speaking business elite with ever increasing socioeconomic clout. Theirs is not a story of overt victimization, genocide, dispossession, or persection. Unlike many other minority cultures, they have benefited from their inclusion in and acceptance of a modern, liberal, and democratic system of government. In this context, their demographic superiority around 82 percent of the total Quebec population has eventually played in their favor. Nevertheless, their record is, objectively, no less notable if one considers that hardly thirty-five years ago, they seemed condemned to being no more than a mere folkloric curiosity.
In Canada, their apparent hegemony is seem as an irritant and is often thought by members of other ethnic, cultural and linguistic groups to be detrimental to their own collective and individual self-realization. In more ways than one, this question gives dramatic relief to the very complexity of the multicultural predicament in Quebec and Canada. To ask it is to strike at the heart of the issue of multiculturalism and pluriethnicity in that part of the world.
No one can deny that the rapid and at time radical socioeconomic, political, and institutional transformations that have marked Quebec society over the past thirty-five were largely aimed at redressing two centuries of second-class status, two centuries of injustice and inequality. The perception that other Quebeccers anglophones, immigrants have of them as an hegemonic group then it is not totally unwarranted. On the other hand, the exercise of this so-called hegemony is not easily carried the administrative and political confines of the Canadian state.
Manifestations of its will to self-determination, whether expressed in rallies for political sovereignty or in demands for administrative latitude, have always been interpreted as a direct threat to the integrity of the Canadian state. Even Quebec's insistence that Canada is best expressed in the idea of a compact between two founding nations.
English and French, is seen as suspect in many quarters. Implicit in this ides is the claim according to which both English and French Canadians have equal say in the control f the machinery of government. The making of Canada into an officially bilingual English and French country in was partly meant to address Quebec's understanding of the Canadian federation and correct, at least symbolically, some of the socioeconomic inequality historically suffered by all French-speaking Canadians not only those living in Quebec.
It implicity recognized the social and political importance of the French constituency in Canada by giving them the right to state services in their own language from Victoria to St. John's, However, it also implied that English-speaking Canadians should equally expect to have access to state services in their mother tongue in predominantly French-speaking Quebec.
Indeed the official bilingualization of Canada, just like the policies on multiculturalism that were to follow in the s and s, and the Constitutional Reform Act of , were all premised on a narrow egalitarian conception of society and politics: Canada is comprised of a large variety of people with different ethnocultural backgrounds; they must cherish their different and distinct individuality, they must respect each other's right to express it but, at the end of the day, they are all Canadians and they must all be treated equally by the federal state, their ultimate representative.
Behind the apparent generosity and humanism of such an approach lies a strategy of containment of Quebec's administrative and political aspirations. This message was repeatedly driven home in no uncertain terms by large segments of the Canadian population outside Quebec during intense public debates over the constitutional future of Canada between and Governmental attempts to accommodate some of Quebec's minimal demands were met twice with public reprobation: in with the demise of a federal government-initiated proposal for constitutional reform -the so-called Meech Lake Accord - aimed at appeasing Quebec's historical demands by entrenching its distinctive character and special status in the constitution, and aghain in at a national referendum on the Charlottetown Accord, a watered-down version of the Meech Lake package.
Both the Meech Lake and Charlottetown acords were presented by their proponents as an ultimate effort to keep the country united. Both have had the dubious distinction of further exacterbating the senitment of exasperation which Quebec and the rest of Canada feel for each other. By becoming the mainstay of national identity.
Canada's "ina bilingual framework" has reinforced the identities of minorities that have no territorial base other than the Canadian political community. It lends support to a political cutlure increasingly bent on removing all references to duality, to the notion of two founding majorities, and to that of a distinct political community in Quebec. In the current Canadian political framework, one identity is worth as much as another: a hierarchy of identities, as the idea of two founding nations implies, can no longer be tolerated.
Unsurprisingly, aboriginal peoples maintain today that they are the one and only original founding nation, and representatives of immigrant communities are making clear that they cannot endorse a two or even three-nation definition of the country. The political and constitutional developments of the past fifteen years in Canada have led to the actual negation of Quebec's specificity and to the trivialization of the Quebecois aspirations. IN this sense, their so-called ethnocultural hegemony over Quebec is highly relative. The long-established and still powerful anglophone minority, immigrants, and aboriginal peoples are pressing down on them to define the content of their sociopolitical project and explain just how all those who are not French ethnics figure in it.
To what extent should they aim for the establishment of a democratic, inclusive, pluriethnic, and multicultural society without jeopardizing their own identity and the fragile socioeconomic hold they have on Quebec, without, in other words, running the risk of being made culturally, socially, and politically irrelevant in the long run? Quebec stands as an interesting showcase of the challenges facing ethnic pluralism in modern democracies. Although substantial numbers of immigrants have regularly landed in Quebec throughout the 20th century, the reality of immigration - the reality of "otherness," of social heterogeneity - did not hit the political and cultural imagination of Quebecers until they started to modernize and open up to the world in the s and s.
Their social inwardness, maintained by a conservative and ubiquitous clerical elite, made them essentially oblivious to the surrounding social environment. English and French lived in separate social and institutional universes; so was it as well with the immigrants.
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In the emancipatory and self-assertive atmosphere of the s and s, immigration and interthnic relations took on a political salience that they never had before. At issue was the insertion of immigrants into they mainstream of the new Quebec society - a society in which French language and culture were to figure ads the principal and dominant sign-posts of interaction. The language legislation enacted during the s eventually made French the official language of the province and the only acceptable language of commercial signs and public transactions.
New immigrants to Quebec were also forced to send their children to French schools. Such legislation caused much tension between the French majority and the anglophone and immigrant communities in those years. Anglophones and other ethnocultural minorities vented their their frustration at being made to feel like strangers in a land where many of them had roots as far back as the 18th and 19th centuries. At stake was the historical and sociopolitical clout that the anglophone minority always had in Quebec society, but stood to lose - and indeed partly did lose - as a result of the language poliices.
A full range of health, welfare, and educational services financially supported by the Quebec state are accessible to the anglophone minority in its onw language. These include hospitals, schools, and universities whose working language is English Since the s, the Quebec government has implemented a series of programs has implemented a series of programs designed to facilitate the integration of immigrants into Quebec society.
Language courses, manpower training, antiracist and antidiscriminatory measures, as well as various forms of accommodation are regularly put into place. In the mids, the Quebec government officially recognized aboriginal languages spoken on its territory and the existence of the province's aboriginal communities as distinct nations. In the face of such realizations, it could be easy to boast that Quebec's record in matters of multicultural and pluriethnic coexistence is an enviable, if not remakrable one.
A survey commissioned by the Quebec Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities showed rather positive results regarding public opinion on racial and intercultural relations. It appears that in recent years, intercultural contacts have increased substantially. Yet in spite of what seems like encouraging results, a more circumspect analysis is needed. A more detailed examination of the global picture reveals gray zones. In that same survey, a majority of respondents confessed to feeling uneasy with members of ethnocultural groups with distinctive physical or vestimentary traits.
Indians, Pakistanis, and West Indian Blacks were most often cited as examples. Two in three respondents also saw is insufficient efforts on the part of immigrants to integrate into the mainstream of Quebec society.
Canada's Continuing Identity Crisis | Foreign Affairs
Indeed, the situation is not any worse in Quebec than anywhere else in the Western world where generally white host communities have to grapple with the immigration question. In fact, compared to other countries, Quebec and Canada for that matter would seem to be a rather tolerant society well on the way to inter-ethnic and intercultural harmony.
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Canadian Identity and Language
Accessed 18 Jan McQueen, J. In: Hardcastle, W. The Handbook of Phonetic Sciences, 2nd edn, pp. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, U. Parkin, A. Rice, K. In: van der Hulst, H. Word Stress: Theoretical and Typological Issues, pp. Schneider, E. In: Kachru, B. The Handbook of World Englishes, pp. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester Google Scholar.
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