Quebec seeks singular identity in a polyglot world – The Globe and Mail

Another commentary on long-standing identity issues in Quebec by Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe. Quote:

There is something deeply French, in the widest sense of the term, in this proposed charter. The approach springs from civil law, Catholic and even Cartesian inspirations: that there are abstract values and universalistic rules to which the complexity of the human experience must be adapted – in contrast to the common-law approach, whereby the law emerges from real-life situations and evolves over time.

Fitting reality to concept, rather than the other way around, has contributed over the past 50 years to the existential debates over Quebec’s identity – debates that have also played out in federal politics with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and vocabulary such as “distinct society” pushed by Quebec politicians.

Quebec seeks singular identity in a polyglot world – The Globe and Mail.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to Quebec seeks singular identity in a polyglot world – The Globe and Mail

  1. Victoria says:

    What a fascinating conversation. And here I am in Quebec to enjoy it.

    Not that I’ve heard one word about it on the street, around the universities, in the shops and the cafes since I got here a few days. I’m a bit confused as to who exactly is defining this “problem” that requires a “solution”? Montreal is a vibrant diverse city where people seem quite comfortable in their skins.

    At my daughter’s school (UdeM) they were handing out a pamphlet called The Common Values of the Quebecois Society. In it I see nothing particularly unique about any of them with the exception of the requirement that people here speak French. Many developed countries have the same problem when they try to make their common values “legible”. (I’ve been in France nearly 20 years and I still haven’t figured out exactly what they share – I’m hoping to get the memo soonish.) Too far in one direction and they are so vague as to be completely devoid of content. Too far in the other direction and it’s deliberate exclusion which leads to separatism. No easy answers here but I tend to agree with Patrick Weil who said that such debates over the identities of immigrants show a lack of faith in (and greatly underestimates) the power of the culture concerned to embrace and change doucement the new arrival and his/her children. Integration takes time – sometimes generations – does Quebec think it doesn’t have that time?.

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