Résister aux comparaisons / To withstand comparisons

Par Beryl Wajsman le 10 juin 2010

Vous lirez beaucoup dans ce numéro au sujet de l’héritage de la Révolution tranquille dans notre vie politique, notre place sur la scène internationale, notre économie, nos mœurs sociales et nos arts. Ma réflexion dans cet espace est au sujet de ce que la Révolution tranquille - et l’extraordinaire révolutionnaire tranquille Paul Gérin-Lajoie - peut encore nous enseigner aujourd'hui et demain.

A Québec Senator once told me that the real two solitudes exist not between anglophone and francophone,  but between  those francophones who view themselves as the inheritors of an almost unparalleled progressive political tradition and those who see themselves as the defenders of “La Grande Noirceur”. It is the fidelity to that former tradition that made the “Équipe de tonnerre” so important then and such a beacon today. They were about the politics of inclusion, not of nullification. They had the courage to look outward, not the fear that turns inward. They had the wisdom to understand the difference between policies of compassion and those of control. How we need that all of that today.

Après presque quarante ans de guerres de cultures, leur exemple – réaffirmé - pourrait placer le Québec sur un nouveau parcours plus noble. Un parcours qui ne confondrait pas le progrès avec le nationalisme. Qui ne chercherait pas à construire pour certains sur les ruines d’autres. Qui comprendrait que des droits sont des droits et les respecter n'est pas contradictoire à être « maître chez nous ». En effet, la protection et l'expansion des droits pour tous est le raison d'être même d’être maître politique chez nous.

Our hope for the future rests with the recognition by all Canadians that in the final analysis  Quebec is  the society where Louis-Joseph Papineau led the struggle for full emancipation of all minorities in 1832 eight years before England. This is the place where Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine battled successfully for the first experiment in responsible government in the British Empire. Here is the ground that responded to Georges-Etienne Cartier’s call to put aside petty differences and helped give life to the seeds of a great new country. Here is the culture that nurtured Laurier’s vision of an inclusionary and internationalist Canada of the 20th Century. 

Quebec was the indispensable crucible that forged the heroism of men like Jean Marchand and Pierre Elliot Trudeau in the 1950’s and 1960’s who, from the labor struggles of Lac Megantic on, helped break the back of a revanchiste right and a retrograde clergy and paved the way for a re-definition of what Canada is as a nation through their social policies of the 1970’s and 1980’s coming to full flower in  the guarantee of the sovereignty of the individual enshrined in the Charter of Rights.  This was the battleground for  the “Révolution Tranquille” that made so many more of us true stakeholders in our governance and established a model that was followed nationally. And yes, this was the stage where René Levesque gave voice and vigor to a national striving but steadfastly maintained Quebec’s full dedication to democratic principles and pluralistic doctrines.

Ceci est le Québec que nos mémoires institutionnelles doivent inspirer. Ceci est le Québec que nous devons nous assurer réussit. Un Québec où le patrimoine politique produit une grande partie du cœur et de l'âme de la tradition progressive canadienne. Et si nous pouvons renverser notre échec de conviction en nous-mêmes comme Canadiens et abandonner nos précautions de mépris, nous pourrions finalement commencer à comprendre ce qui est vraiment dans l’intérêt du Québec. 

Ironically it was Lucien Bouchard – in his resignation speech -  who so eloquently expressed what we must always strive for in Québec and what PGL and his band of brothers tried to instill in us.“When issues are matters of principle, there is no room for negotiation. We touch here clearly at the heart of what is essential. I wish to affirm with absolutely no qualifications, that citizens of Quebec can exercise their right to vote, in which ever way they want, without being accused of intolerance.” Anything less he said, could not withstand comparisons.

To withstand comparisons with the freest  political cultures. That is the heart of the matter. For the great and agonizing question is not Quebec sovereignty. It is to continue building Québec  on what truly makes it distinct . And that distinction is the patrimony of an unequalled progressive political tradition. 

This history is what makes Quebec distinct. Not  some perceived injustice to “native” francophones that was far less than that perpetrated on Quebec’s aboriginal peoples by the imperial representatives of the King of France and then yet again against aboriginals and francophones by those of the King of England. Not on some misplaced fidelity to “sang et langue”. And certainly not out of  the fear-mongering of extremists who see cabals of “ethnics” around every corner that they consider have no right to a say in Quebec’s future.

En tant que Québécois, nous devons tous prendre garde contre tout relativisme moral entre les expressions légitimes du pluralisme libéral et les préjudices de la démagogie parochiale. Ceci était l’objectif de PGL et des « révolutionnaires ». 

Canada is not in John Porter’s phrase “the vertical mosaic”. It is not an elegant integration of various cultures and colours. It is a good and gentle land where each new immigrant wave brings with it diversity and daring that offers the opportunity to every generation to achive new levels of greatness. But each wave also faces the stubborn cynicism and peculiar prejudices of our founding cultures. The friction between the new and old has always existed and will continue to. Governing this land is difficult. The physical breadth and cultural diversity make consensus impossible but alliances vital. In politics those who understand this propel us forward. Those who don’t keep us stalled at harbour. 

Nous sommes depuis une décennie dans une nouvelle ère chronologique et politique. Mais nous devons toujours être vigilants contre un retour dans un bourbier parochial remplit de préjudices privés. C'est un moment où tous doivent devenir, dans les mots de Malraux, « … les citoyens et citoyennes engagés…». Nous avons une occasion et une responsabilité d'établir une nouvelle vision pour cette nouvelle ère basée sur une générosité d’esprit qui repose sur une connaissance incontestable que seulement par nos gestes et par l'audace nous serions capables de surmonter la division et la discorde des dernières décennies. PGL est un exemple vivant de cette conviction.

The work of Marchand and Trudeau and Lesage and Gérin-Lajoir and Lapalme and Godbour and, yes, even Levesque, is not yet done. The ongoing fight against what Jean-Paul Sartre called “…the teaching of contempt…” is not yet over. But we have the collective will and the collective genius to do it. We must keep this rendezvous with our own destiny for if we fail we will be condemned to suffer the fate that Mazzini warned of so many years ago,  “Si  voi non fate, altri faranno, e senza voi e contro voi” (If you do not act, others will, without you and against you) and we will never emerge from the cauldron of our own making. We will not be able to withstand comparisons.



Veuillez vous connecter pour poster des commentaires.

Editorial Staff

Beryl P. Wajsman

Redacteur en chef et Editeur

Alan Hustak

Senior Editor

Daniel Laprès


Robert J. Galbraith


Roy Piberberg

Editorial Artwork

Mike Medeiros

Copy and Translation

Val Prudnikov

IT Director and Web Design

Editorial Contributors
La Patrie