Summer is a much-longed-for season in Quebec, but one that is rarely productive from the point of view of fraternal feeling.
By the time we get past St. Jean Baptiste day and July 1, whatever communal spirit the hockey playoffs have generated between francophones and anglophones has become a little frayed. Competitive parade-going is not an exercise calculated to bind a society closer together.
This year had additional challenges to solidarity, with the tensions aroused by the Bouchard-Taylor Commission report and that stylized politicians' re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham over the federal role in the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City.
So it was a remarkable pleasure to learn, this week, that the linguistic, cultural and social divergences that seem to flare up so often are, according to academic researchers, basically insignificant. A new study has found that there are very few important differences in attitudes between francophones and anglophones in Quebec. Anglos here are far more like francophones than we are like anglophones in the rest of Canada or in the United States.
Writing in the U.S. Journal of Social Psychology, researchers from Bishop's University conclude that Quebecers, no matter what their mother tongue, show comparable open mindedness and emotional stability and are equally productive on the job, careful, attentive and agreeable.
A couple of stereotypes do remain true to some degree, the psychologists said of their sample of 50 francophones and 50 anglophones: anglophones are slightly more conservative.
But centuries of living together have not only made us similar, but have also given us something of a distinct personality. That's a real "us," all of us, francophone and anglophone alike.
The study authors say there are three distinct personality/culture areas in North America: Quebec; the U.S. South; the rest of Canada and the U.S. combined. In Quebec, we have opted for a system of social solidarity. Elsewhere, the preference is for a more individualistic, free-market approach to building a society.
Quebec anglophones are not different from their francophone compatriots in that regard. The researchers think that because we share the same physical place and same lifestyle, we have come to share similar attitudes in many matters.
This is good news, if only we could hear it. It means the weary identity politics which some use in an effort to divide us have little firm foundation. We can all get along.