Sunday, October 26, 2008
The Quebec Nation and the Two Canoes
It was great to spend a few days in my old Montreal neighbourhood, in the province that denied Stephen Harper his majority.
Only to discover that although I'm still celebrating.
And the election signs are still up.
The province has already moved on...as if the election never happened. As if every year that goes by the federal government is less and less relevant .
Which for some reason brings me to this column by Paul Wells.
Now I don't blame the Quebec Liberals for thinking that enshrining Quebec as a nation in the constitution might be the only way for them to regain some cred in the New Quebec...apart from proposing to abolish the monarchy. Except that it's probably too late. Iggy's probably not the guy.
And of course... details details... English Canada would never go for it. All you have to do is read some of the comments in Paul's post....and these are fairly reasonable ones. A lot of other English-Canadians are just Quebec bashers, and re-opening the Constitution would bring them out in droves.
Which as I walked through the leafy lanes of Mount Royal with my companion Sébastien , made me wonder where the two solitudes I live in are going. I think I know where Quebec is heading.
But where is English Canada going?
Because it seems to me that a country with an English Queen, that keeps looking for its identity in the bloody muck of Vimy Ridge or Passchendaele
If all people get from this was that Canadian troops were the best of the best and saved the day for the British Empire in 1917, and there was once a place called Passchendaele that should be spoken of in awed tones, it was a well done thing. For, on this kind of shared understanding of history is patriotism based.
At a time when most English Canadians called themselves BRITISH....and most of the CANADIENS were against the war.
But is too deadly afraid to touch its own Constitution, and adapt it to its own unique REALITY, is hopelessly lost. Or trapped in a bog of denial...even as American culture hollows it out.
Which seems like a tragedy to me because we're still such a young country and ANYTHING should be possible.
And there's room on the bench for all the different nations that share this beautiful country.
(click pic to enlarge)
So why I wonder are we so afraid of ourselves? Why can't we recognize each other for who we really are? Why don't we have the self confidence to do what needs to be done?
Why do I have to feel like I've got one foot in one canoe, one foot in another, and they're pulling me apart? Forcing me to choose which one I want to ride in. When we could each have our own canoe and paddle on merrily side by side forever. And I could ride in BOTH of them.
Oh well ....the other smaller disappointment was Sébastien and I couldn't find the two sets of initials and a heart I carved on a tree the summer we met.
Somewhere near this little bridge, where after rescuing me from a bloody bar fight, our two lives ....and two cultures .....came face to face for the first time.
But it doesn't really matter. English Canada needs to carve something on a tree somewhere, but I don't.
Because I already KNOW that when you respect someone, and you respect yourself, and you make a real effort to understand each other. Not as each one wants the other to be, but as you both really are.
It's amazing how you can end up falling in love.
And then ANYTHING is possible...
P.S. Just in case that post failed to move you....and you know Montreal .....and you like smoked meat.
How about this tragic shot?
Where's my smoked meat and swiss cheese sandwich ...and my CHEESECAKE ???
Time marches on....