We often hear people say that Canada is influenced by Québec’s public debates – be it societal, social progressive, or economic in nature.
The argument is that Québec plays a role in “boost-starting” societal debate elsewhere in Canada, policy and legislation in the rest of Canada, or will sometimes lend that “extra little push” to public debates which already exist in Canada – enough to tip it over the edge to incite change.
Over the years we have seen several such examples: recent issues surrounding the allowance of doctor assisted suicide, the much earlier debates and policies pertaining to abortion-related issues, gay marriage, national linguistic policies, certain Federal parties adopting a Québec approach to things such as universal daycare platforms, environmental issues, etc.
I tend to agree with the above portrait in a “general” sense, but I also firmly believe that it is a two-way street.
As much as Québec has a Québeconization effect upon the rest of Canada, the rest of Canada also has an overall Canadianization effect on Québec (just as all provinces are influenced by this Canadianization effect). Examples of this include the earliest notions of industry nationalization (huge swaths of key Canadian industries, and other provincial industries were once “nationalized” much earlier than Québec’s round of provincial nationalizations — which helped to serve as a model for Québec’s nationalizations, such as Hydro-Québec), universal health-care from Saskatchewan, or provincial-aboriginal autonomy agreements to name just a few (BC’s landmark Nisga’a agreement could be said to have served as a model for Québec’s historic “Cree Nation Agreement” signed by Bernard Landry — although I doubt Landry would admit it, considering that it serves as a perfect example of the effectiveness, practicality and pragmatism of Federalism).
This mutual influence works as a mutual symbiosis — which I believe is beneficial to all of us in Canada.
It has a “tempering” effect, as well as a “call-to-action” effect. It makes us a well-rounded, level-headed and worldlier country, with greater opportunities for all (socially, economically, and environmentally). One could think of it as a check-and-balance approach at a practical level. But I tend to think of it more in practical terms; as a matter of debating the largest and most important issues across all provinces, then taking the best approaches (and best practices) and adopting them throughout the country.
As things are debated, as policies & laws are formed, and as they make the jump back and forth between Québec and English Canada, we mutually influence each other. The changes spur our societal evolution, and ends up shaping our collective and individual psyche (both in Québec and elsewhere in Canada). These changes do not occur overnight. Rather, they form over years, decades and generations.
This is also a major reason why we have a unique way of approaching and viewing things; a unique perspective and a unique national psyche which differentiates us from even our closest neighbours and friends (such as the USA, Australia, NZ, the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, Germany, and the list goes on…). We simply would not be the same people or same country without this internal symbiotic relationship (even in the furthest reaches of Canada are affected by it, as we all our subject to the influences of our national policies, legislation, and growth of our shared values).
This is why, despite the continued existence the Two Solitudes (which are apparent in daily aspects of our lives, such as Francophone versus Anglophone pop-culture), we still share a deep “collective” culture, train of thought, approach to issues, and mindset – common to both Québec’s society and English Canada’s society (you may recall that three posts ago, in the post entitled “How a little bit of ignorance of the Two Solitudes can lead straight to failure” I mentioned that you cannot “split” Canada’s “combined” Anglo-Franco culture when talking about public policy and laws in a national context (versus talking about them in a regional context).
Even today, we’re currently experiencing a series of “national” events which fit with the notion of a melding of common public debate, the formation of public policies and legislation, and the continued evolution of our collective society, values and psyche.
The next three posts will look at three current and specific examples in which
- the overall Canadian context is now influencing Québec’s own internal public policy,
- Québec’s recent public debates are now influencing Canada’s overall current public debates,
- a possible future public debate, which is slowly gathering more-and-more steam throughout English Canada, and which has the potential to provoke a debate in Québec on the same subject at some point in the future.
I’ll see you soon as we explore the above three examples in the next posts.