Michael Ross - VICTORIA -The other day, I happened to be reading about Canada in a
National Geographic magazine from the 1960s. A prairie farmer therein
complained that "Canada is cow-fed out west and milked back east." His
words seem strangely prophetic. Apparently that old cliche, plus ca change,
plus c'est la meme chose, still has some relevance in today's Canada.
While various pundits and political science professors argue that the
current crisis in our Parliament was precipitated by the Prime Minister
waging a "take-no-prisoners" approach to dealing with the opposition, it's
already a moot point out here in the West. The televised images of Stephane
Dion and Jack Layton glad-handing with the Ottawa-based leader of Quebec's
secessionist movement, Gilles Duceppe, has our collective blood boiling.
This may finally constitute the "enough is enough" moment in this part of
Time and again, we have grudgingly had to swallow the official notion that
Quebec is a special, distinct, unique, separate, special (did I say mention
"special" already?) cultural entity and nation, and who knows what else
besides. But the sight of a coalition of opposition parties cynically
joining together with the official signed-and-sealed collaboration of the
Bloc Quebecois to form a government is taking things into the realm of the
We in the West truly do not understand what the Bloc Quebecois --
essentially nothing more than a glorified special-interest group -- is
doing in our federal Parliament in the first place. What's more, we have to
ask why we must be compelled to subsidize this seditious band of political
opportunists every time someone in Quebec gets the separation jitters. We
can't vote for the Bloc, so why must we pay for them?
For too long, eastern Liberals, in their rush to keep Quebec solvent and
happy, have seen the West as nothing more than a giant ATM machine ready to
be plundered when Quebec feels that independence might just be the better
option that morning.
The concept that all Canadians are considered equal seems to come to a
screeching halt at the Ottawa River: One need only examine the
disproportionate percentage of Quebecois in the highest levels of our
federal civil service, or factor in the annual cost of bilingualism to
Canadian taxpayers (over $1.5-billion, as estimated by the Canadian
Taxpayers Federation), to understand our sense of outrage.
A quick scan of the federal public service's employment postings is
especially revealing--especially when you wonder why the federal government
needs a "bilingual upholsterer" or "bilingual tree and shrub maintainer
If I move to Quebec, I promise to brush up on my rusty French, but don't
for a minute think that I need someone at the passport office here in the
bucolic former British colony of Victoria explaining to me in Dionesque
syntax and inflection how to fill out my renewal form in English. The whole
scheme constitutes wastage of Pythonesque proportions.
It's not just the cost of our irksome enforced official bilingualism that
bothers me, it's the cost of continuing the "business as usual" approach to
our shaky Confederation. When the coalition promises a $30-billion stimulus
package to various sectors of our economy (read: the flagging industries of
vote-rich Ontario and Quebec), it will be the West that bankrolls their
But of even more concern to us out here is what it will cost to keep
Gilles Duceppe and his cronies happy for another 18 months as they try to
turn us into North America's version of Belgium? How much wallet-emptying
will we have to do when the agreement between the Liberals, NDP and BQ
comes up for review? It won't be Quebec or the now have-not province of
Ontario which end up paying for it, but us still-wealthy unsophisticates
west of Kenora.
I should point out now, before the storm-troopers of political correctness
land on my doorstep branding me a unilingual bigot, that I'm not
anti-francophone and speak a couple of languages. I actually lived in
France off and on for seven years, and my wife was not only a product of
French immersion schooling (in Alberta no less!), she attended a French
university and has a degree in French literature.
So it's not about language; it's about coming to the realization that
Quebec should no longer receive special deference because it may or may not
secede depending on how accommodating we anglais are.
Our message to Ottawa is that Quebec is either a province like any other
or it's farewell, au revoir and good luck with that. Good luck when the
money runs out and you're a former OECD country with a pile of debt. You'll
find that while you may be a sovereign nation, you're no longer so distinct
or special anymore.
In Western Canada, we overwhelmingly voted Conservative in the previous
federal election. A scant few of us even voted Liberal and NDP. But we sure
as hell didn't vote for the Bloc, and it's high time we voiced our protest
loud and clear (in whatever language gets the message across) to Duceppe,
Dion and Layton as they try to drag us once again to the Quebec trough
asking for yet another refill.
Personally, I liked my late grandfather's reaction to Quebec's arrogant
whining classes (which oddly resembled Basil Fawlty's response in the
episode, The Germans) that went something like, "Who won the bloody war
So far Papa, it looks like Quebec.
-- Envoi via le site Vigile.net (http://www.vigile.net/) --
It's not about language, uniqueness or separation; it's about fairness
Our message to Ottawa is that Quebec is either a province like any other or it's farewell, au revoir and good luck with that.