Current Affairs Politics

A Québec Spring?


Miriam Smith present’s a good analysis on examining the influences behind the current turmoil in Québec as students face off against the country’s centre-right provincial government under the federalist Québec Liberal Party and its leader Jean Charest:


“Another important ‘big picture’ factor in the current crisis is the role of Quebec nationalism. Quebecers tend to have a different view of the state and of collective responsibility than other Canadians. In part because of the role of nationalism in Quebec society and the sense that the francophone minority is on its own in a sea of English, collective institutions such as the church (first) and the state (later), have been assigned the role of cultural and linguistic protection.

This has spilled over into other areas of social policy. Generally, the Quebec government has been more generous than other Canadian provinces in providing services such as day care. As well, groups such as the women’s movement, trade unions, and student organizations have regularly engaged in institutionalized consultation with provincial governments and party allies such as the Parti Québécois. Therefore, there is more of a sense of social solidarity or the social model, as it is sometimes called in Quebec, than in most other Canadian provinces.

It’s also important to recall that francophones in Quebec were disadvantaged in terms of higher education prior to the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s. The modernization of higher education in Quebec as well as various measures that encouraged the use of French in the workplace during the 1960s and 1970s contributed to an expansion of access to higher education for francophone students. Cutting off access to education has a different resonance in Quebec than in other provinces. While in Ontario higher education might be seen as a ticket to a middle class job or as a potential engine of economic growth, in Quebec, higher education is inextricably linked to cultural, linguistic and national identity.”

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