When to support nationalism

Richard Fidler rfidler at SPAMcyberus.ca
Wed Jan 31 20:58:26 MST 2001

Paul Flewers:

>>What are the main political trends within Quebec today? What form do moves for
independence take? Do the inhabitants of Quebec have a legitimate case for
independence or autonomy, have they suffered national oppression, and how do
they treat immigrants into Canada and the native Canadian population?<<


>>On Quebec: I have to admit I know very little about the National Question in
Quebec, but nevertheless the support of (mostly Trotskyite?) leftists not only
for self-determination, but actually seceesion always struck me as a strange
mixture of dogmatic support for _any_ secession and opportunism. Actually I do
not see how French-speaking Canadians are really suppressed _nationally_. In
what way their situation differs from French-speaking Swiss.<<

I don't know of any good recent, general discussion of the Quebec national
question in English from a Marxist standpoint. (I am working on one, but it is
still a long way from publication.) However, for some general considerations and
background, you might start with the following document: "Quebec Sovereignty: A
Legitimate Goal" by an outfit that calls itself "Intellectuals for the
Sovereignty of Quebec". It is available at


It is a fairly adequate presentation in English of the position of many
pro-sovereignty supporters. It appears to have been written around 1996-97.

Further context can be gained by reading "Quebec and the Ideal of Federalism" by
Louis Balthazar, available at


I might also suggest (blush)  "Canada Adieu? Quebec Debates Its Future"
(Oolichan Books and the Institute for Research on Public Policy, 1991, 328 pp.),
a collection of excerpts from briefs and testimony to the Bélanger-Campeau
Commission on the Political and Constitutional Future of Quebec, translated,
edited and introduced by Richard Fidler.

The Commission was established by Quebec's National Assembly in the wake of a
failed attempt to amend the Canadian constitution to accommodate some of
Quebec's demands for constitutional recognition of its national character. The
Commission received over 600 briefs, held hearings across the province and was
addressed by a wide range of representative organizations in Quebec society.

The book covers the programs of the various social classes and political
parties, sovereigntists and federalists. It includes chapters on the positions
of the aboriginal peoples, women's organizations, trade unions, immigrants and
ethnic minorities including the English-speaking population of Quebec. I think
it presents a pretty representative sample of Quebec opinion at that time, along
with some good contextual explanations by yours truly.

Unfortunately, I believe it is now out of print, although it is still available
in many libraries across Canada.

Richard Fidler
rfidler at cyberus.ca

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