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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Why does ‘progressive’ Quebec have so many massacres?

...French-speaking Quebec is often held up (and certainly holds itself up) as Canada’s most essential region, home to a precious set of particularities that help make Canada the marvelous place it is. On such issues as postsecondary education, child care and (ironically enough) gun control, progressive Canadians laud its social-democratic policies as moral exemplars, and the province has played an outsize role in pushing Canadian politics to the left.

Criticism of Quebec, meanwhile, is deeply taboo. In a 2006 essayGlobe and Mail columnist Jan Wong posited a theory that Quebec’s various lone nuts, many of whom were not of pure French-Canadian stock, were predictably alienated from a province that places such a high premium on cultural conformity. She was denounced by a unanimous vote in the Canadian Parliament and sank into a career-ruining depression. The current events magazine Maclean’s ran a cover story in 2010 arguing that Quebec, where old-fashioned mafia collusion between government contractors, unions and politicians is still common, was easily “the most corrupt province in Canada.” That, too, was denounced by a unanimous vote of Parliament.

Privately, English Canadians are far less defensive. They grumble about Quebec’s dark history of anti-Semitism, religious bigotry and pro-fascist sentiment, facts which are rarely included in otherwise self-flagellating official narratives of Canadian history. They complain about the exaggerated deference the province gets from Ottawa as a “distinct society” and “nation-within-a-nation,” and its various French-supremacist language and assimilation laws, which they blame for creating a place that’s inhospitable, arrogant and, yes, noticeably more racist than the Canadian norm. And now, they have good reason to observe that the province seems to produce an awful lot of lunatics prone to public massacres, who often explicitly justify their violence with arguments of dissatisfaction towards Quebec’s unique culture...

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