In the last post, I noted that our recent history makes it so there is a cycle of “incomplete conditioning” which takes place, and which accentuates the notion of the “Two Solitudes”
Over the past year, much of this blog has been devoted to helping Anglophone Canadians better understand Québec’s culture. Post-after-post I have been introducing many subjects of which I feel many Anglophone Canadians have a poor or incomplete understanding. It would be repetitive for me to once again go down the long list of subjects which are often poorly understood by Anglophone Canadians.
I am going to take a slightly different approach for the rest of the remaining posts in this series on conditioning.
I will concentrate more on examples which tend to give Francophones “incomplete views” of Anglophone Canada. If anything, this will let you see that this is a two way street, and there is still lots of work to do be had on both sides (which I’m happy to say is improving with every passing year).
The Québec-Ottawa comparisons:
Québec-Ottawa comparisons in Québec’s media and education system is almost a national sport.
- How is Québec different than Canada? Look at Ottawa.
- How is Québec charting its own course? Look at Ottawa.
- How do Québécois think differently than Canada? Look at Ottawa.
- How is Québec hard-done by on the part of the rest of Canada? Look at Ottawa.
- Ottawa… Ottawa… Ottawa.
Using Ottawa as a point of comparison is endemic in Québec’s media and education circles – but one which needs to change because it is an incorrect comparison.
Anglophone media & education circles also reflect upon, and makes comparisons regarding their respective province’s societal issues, attitudes, outlooks, direction, environmental, political and economic issues, structures and performance.
But, when they do so, Anglophone media & education circles use other provinces as first points of comparison — They do not tend to look at Ottawa as a base point for comparisons.
Saskatchewan may compare its trends with similar or dissimilar trends in New Brunswick. Ontario my compare its trends with Nova Scotia. BC may compare its trends with Alberta or Québec.
However in Québec, media and education circles too often (and I firmly believe incorrectly) use “Ottawa” (the Federal government) as a first point of comparison.
This causes problems because Ottawa is not an at-par “state” with the same issues, or jurisdiction as Québec and thus should not be used as a first point of comparison between Québec and the rest of Canada.
Ottawa (Federal) issues may be important to Québec (just as they are to any province) – and there may be agreement or disagreement with how Ottawa deals with its issues within its jurisdiction – but this does not mean it should be used as a first point of “comparison”. Doing so is often like comparing apples and oranges.
Most importantly, years and generations of making repetitive comparisons between Québec (as province) and Ottawa (as a limited jurisdiction government) incorrectly risks conditioning Québec’s population into believing that a perceived difference between Ottawa & Québec means there exists a major difference between Québec and the rest of Canada.
What I mean by this is that even if six or seven out of Canada’s 10 provinces deal and view matters exactly the same way as Québec deals with them, but yet Québec’s media believes “Ottawa” views them differently, then Québec’s media and education institutions tend to make a public judgement that “Canada”, as a whole, views and deals with issues differently. This is an incorrect assumption and it is quite unfortunate.
There is a major difference when provinces “criticize” Ottawa and when provinces “compare” themselves to Ottawa. More often than not, I feel such an important nuance is lost in much of Québec’s media and education platforms.
Other provinces’ populations will tend to “criticize” Ottawa’s policies, but they generally avoid “comparing” their policies with Ottawa’s policies… precisely because the scope and nature of jurisdictions are different. Yet we see this principle more often confused in Québec than in the rest of Canada. It has had the unfortunate side effect of becoming a repetitive cycle within Québec’s media and education platforms – precisely as a result of those platforms have become conditioned to operate in this manner over the course of decades and generations.
I can offer some examples of this.
“Desautels le dimanche” in my view is one of Radio-Canada’s best radio programs (two hours every Sunday). I consider it to be one of the most objective and probing radio interview new magazines in all of Québec.
A couple of weeks ago Desautels le dimanche featured a program on how Francophones and Anglophone view environmental issues which respect to climate sceptics (climosceptiques in French). The show took the vantage point from both local and global view of the issues.
The Francophone guests spoke of evidence to suggest that Anglophones are more climosceptique than Francophones, and thus Québec is very different from the rest of Canada (the assertion was that Anglophone Canada as a whole does not believe in human-caused climate change). To make their point, the show’s Francophone guests compared were Québec, France, Australia, the UK, the E.U. and Ottawa (Federal). Much of the program was devoted to comparing Québec with all of the above.
The “expert guests” (Francophone) concluded that Anglophone Canadians were more climosceptique than Québec Francophones because there are certain appointees within Stephen Harper’s Conservative bureaucracy who are climosceptiques.
Yet what the Francophone invited guests and host overtly neglected to consider was that:
(i) Canada has 11 major governments which set Canada’s overall environmental agenda (one federal government and 10 provincial governments),
(ii) Canada’s provincial governments proportionately possess a larger portion of the overall environmental jurisdiction pie than the Federal government,
(iii) when Canadians (Anglophone or Francophone) cast their vote with environmental weight attached to it, they are more apt to do so at a “provincial” level, and not at the Federal level (they attach importance to different matters at a Federal level), and
(iv) every single one of Canada’s provincial governments fully recognize that climate change is due to human actions, and all provincial governments are taking measures to counter human-induced climate change (in fact, British Columbia, and Vancouver as a muncipal government under the province’s jurisdiction, is one of the strictest jurisdictions in the world on this front… with several other provinces not far behind it).
Had the guests mentioned the above points, it would have quickly become apparent to listeners in Québec that Anglophone Canadians are no more climosceptique than Francophone Canadians. It would have become quickly apparent that Anglophone Canadians and Anglophone provincial governments are just as concerned as Francophone Canadians, and are taking concrete measures to counter the effects of climate change (at least to the same extent as Québec, if not more in some cases).
Yet the guests gave listeners in Québec the inaccurate perception that the rest of Canada is completely out of tune with how people in Québec think, simply because they concentrated on Québec-Ottawa comparisons, but with NO Québec-to-other-province comparisons.
To systematically make incorrect comparisons on a host of topics is extremely dangerous – especially if Québécois are to ever vote in another referendum in which sovereignist politicians play the same old card “we’re completely different from the rest of Canada, and Anglos are out to lunch”.
- Why did the show’s guest not concentrate on any environmental positions and efforts in the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick (which has banned any fracking by the way), B.C., or even within Alberta’s own ministry of the environment (which is trying to come us with innovative ways to fight CO2 emissions from the oil industry)?
- Were the show’s guest avoiding other-province-to-Québec comparisons out of bad faith or to score political points with an agenda to make Québécois believe that they are completely different from the rest of Canada?
No, there was nothing said in bad faith. No, there was no politicial agenda.
The answer is because the guests, like many on the “other side of the linguist fence” have been conditioned into believing that Ottawa “is” the rest of Canada. Over decades and generations, Francophones have often come to believe that what happens in Ottawa must also be happening at a provincial level, all across Canada.
Unfortunately, I can almost guarantee you that if the guests interviewed in the cited program were asked to name the names of two premiers elsewhere in Canada, that they would likely not have been able to do so (I’m not sure they would have been able to even name the name of one other premier in another province). Thus if they cannot even name the names of other premiers, how could it be expected that they would be aware of other premiers’ or other provincial government’s efforts to counteract human-induced climate change?
This conditioning likely stems from modern history.
There was indeed a time when what was happening at an Ottawa level was also in tandem with views at an Anglo-Canadian provincial level. Ottawa used to hold the balance of national balance and decision-making in the 1940s and 1950s. But that changed generations ago and is no longer the case. The provinces have full responsibility for their own jurisdictions (just as Québec does), and they are no small slice of the overall Canadian system (the provinces probably control more of Canada’s political matters than Ottawa does).
However, as you read in my previous posts on the modern history which provides the context of modern conditioning, nationalist elements in Québec played a major role in erecting mental walls, boxing Québec in, and boxing out others in Canada. This “boxing out” effect began around from the 1960s to the 1990s.
This had direct effect of not allowing many in Québec to see that Canada’s other provinces exercised more and more jurisdiction over their own provincial matters. It had the effect of not allowing many in Québec to see that other provinces deal with most of the same issues in the same way that Québec does.
Much of the pan-Canadian perspective – specifically from the point of view of what is happening in other provinces – was shut out. Media and education platforms in Québec were “boxed in” while the rest of Canada was “boxed out”.
Fortunately, I do believe that this “boxing out” effect is changing with time. It is changing as social, online, and digital media makes people everywhere more “aware” of matters beyond their borders. It is changing as people are moving around Canada on a level never before seen in our history (including across Québec’s borders).
This is precisely why the Parti Québécois is in such as rush to hold another referendum (as soon as 2018 / 2019 if at all possible). Sovereignists are aware that time is against them as people in Québec become more informed that people elsewhere in Canada are very similar… in fact more simliar to Québec than anyone else anywhere else in the world.
But breaking the incomplete conditioning cycle will continue to take time.
The next post can offer other examples along the same theme as the above.
SERIES: HOW THE PRESENTATION OF EVENTS IN MODERN HISTORY WHICH HAVE CONDITIONED US ALL REGARDING HOW WE VIEW OUR PLACE IN CANADA (13 POSTS)
- Conditioning: A contributing factor in the notion of the Two Solitudes – Introduction (#275) Part 1 of 13
- Conditioning: And its affect on our cultural cohesiveness and national psyche (#276) Part 2 of 13
- Conditioning: The importance of gestures (#277) Part 3 of 13
- Conditioning: In the context of Canada’s “modern” history (#278) Part 4 of 13
- Conditioning: The goal of the “Estates General of French Canada” (#279) Part 5 of 13
- Conditioning: Modern Canada’s “First” Night of the Long Knives – a trigger for the all the rest (#280) Part 6 of 13
- Conditioning: What happened after the Estates General? (#281) Part 7 of 13
- Conditioning: From the 1980 referendum until present (#282) Part 8 of 13
- Conditioning: Wrapping up history and moving into the “now” (#283) Part 9 of 13
- Conditioning: Daily examples of “an Incomplete Picture” – post A (#284) Part 10 of 13
- Conditioning: A few words regarding the death of Jacques Parizeau (#285) Part 11 of 13
- Conditioning: Daily examples of “an Incomplete Picture” – post B (#284) Part 12 of 13
- Conditioning: Daily examples of “an Incomplete Picture” – post C – Closing post (#287) Part 13 of 13