PKP has a day dream:
A day after Premier Philippe Couillard attacked the sovereignty option being proposed by Pierre Karl Peladeau as an imaginary solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, the new Parti Quebecois leader fired back.
“Listen, I think the imaginary country that the premier is talking about: it’s Canada,” Peladeau told reporters in Quebec City.
The only imaginary country in this debate is the Republic of Quebec, a fantasy projected for over half a century by ethnic nationalist dead-enders. The odds are that in fifty years time Canada will be alive, kicking and richer than ever while the PQ will be nothing more than a sullen memory.
Pretending that Canada isn't a real country is old hat for Quebec nationalists. The implicit assumption being that real countries are ethno-cultural monoliths. Nations not based on blood and soil are abstractions ready to be blown away by the passionate advocates of La Patrie. It's terribly cute until it gets out of hand.
Some of the most dynamic nation states in history have been polyglot enterprises. Britain was multicultural, in the better meaning of that word, long before the term ever passed PET's wrinkled old lips. The United States, the polyglot nation par excellent, has been dominating the world's affairs for a century. Yet by the narrow and forever provincial standards of the Quebec nationalists neither of these are real countries. They just happen to win a lot of wars and an awful lot of Nobel prizes.
While ethnically diverse societies are not guaranteed dynamos (see Yugoslavia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire) they have a basic do or die proposition at their heart: Find common ground or fall apart. America, Britain and Canada have survived by developing a civic nationalism rooted in values and a common history. Otherwise they would have ceased to exist decades ago or become larger versions of Belgium.
Nations that rest of a sense of civic nationalism are, in essence, acts of national will. Millions of people choose to become or remain American or Canadian. This is especially true of a country like Canada that has spent a century and a half resisting continental pressure from the Yanks. Canada, on the plain facts, has never made very much sense. Too big, too cold and too sparsely populated. All the while situated right next door to the Greatest Show on Great. The easy thing would have been for John A. and the gang to have shrugged their shoulders and petitioned to join the Union.
Lord knows they had plenty of opportunity. Yet they never did.
Now compare the founders of Canada, those mutton chopped Victorian eminences, with Rene Levesque, Jacques Parizeau, Lucien Bouchard and now PKP. The former never made any bones about what they were doing: Here's a bunch of British colonies strung around the 49th parallel. We intend on making it a serious, rich and important nation. There were no weasel worded referenda or trial balloons about using some other country's currency. Nope. The Fathers of Confederation understood that if you want to found a real country you need to do it openly and proudly.
That also means paying the bill. For most of Canada's first half century we had our national defence subsidized by the British. But when the bill came due at the Somme, Flanders and Vimy we were there. When the bill came up again a generation later at Dieppe, Juno and the Netherlands we where there too. That's what serious countries do in a moment of crisis. The fate of western civilization hung in the balance and Canada, not even fully independent, stepped up where others failed. Can you imagine any member of the PQ, should the choice of have been theirs, who would have dispatched the armies of New France to fight for Old France?
That's the real difference between the very real country of Canada and the make believe of Quebec nationalism. Those who built this country behaved like adults and took responsibility for Canada's fate in the world. Nations larger and older than our own have shirked the call in war and peace. We did not. When the world looks at Quebec they see spoiled children expecting someone else to carry the load. With Canada they know we mean business, albeit in our usual unassuming way. That's why Canada is the real, real country and why the Republic of Quebec will forever remain the fever dream of fools.