Why the PQ isn’t so eager to celebrate the Brexit vote: Martin Patriquin

Worth reading – some uncomfortable truths by Patriquin:

First, there’s history. Britain has long been the subject of fevered nationalist nightmares, and the antagonist in Quebec’s narrative of subjugation and suffering. There are real, live human beings in the province who believe this country remains Britain’s useful idiot in the latter’s war with France, fought nearly 260 years ago. Most Quebec nationalists have dialed back on the lingo since the days of White Niggers of America. But in the nationalist mindset, the idea that Britain might be slave to anything is absurd at best and an insult at worst.

Second, there’s demographics. Several polls foundsupport for the “Yes” side in the 2014 Scottish referendum to be highest among younger age brackets. The ruling Scottish Nationalist Party was favourable to increased immigration, and a sizeable swath of Scotland’s cultural communities supported exiting the U.K.

Scottish nationalism was young, inclusive, and above all relevant to every facet of society. For the PQ, this example was worth celebrating because it was what the Parti Québecois used to be, and what it could aspire to.

The Leave campaign was a reflection of what the Parti Québécois has become. As the Financial Times (amongothers) demonstrated, the biggest support for the Leave campaign came from older, less-educated rural voters. In the 2014 election, the PQ attempted to target this very demographic in Quebec with its so-called “Quebec values charter,” which aimed to strip religious symbols from the heads, necks and lapels of anyone receiving a government paycheque.

The PQ suffered the worst electoral drubbing in its history, and has spent much of the last two years trying to forget the failed experiment. Endorsing the successful Leave campaign would only remind people of nationalism’s darker impulses.

Lastly, there is the gong show that is post-Brexit U.K. The PQ has long suggested, as the Leave campaign did repeatedly throughout the campaign, that separation would be a painless affair. It hasn’t been. Britain’s credit rating has been downgraded, its economy sent into a tailspin; billions of dollars of capital have been wiped out.

Even if this is a temporary hiccup, there remains the social factor. During the campaign, a man shot Labour MP Jo Cox dead on the street while yelling “Britain First.” Reports of hate crimes increased by 57 per cent in the 36 hours following the Brexit vote, according to Britain’s National Police Chiefs’ Council. And while this too may be another of Britain’s temporary miseries, history suggests racial scapegoating only increases in times of economic strife.

No wonder the PQ has kept mostly quiet. Britain’s Leave campaign is a win it doesn’t need.

Source: Why the PQ isn’t so eager to celebrate the Brexit vote

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.

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