Monday, 17 March 2014

Quebec Referendum: Fun with separatists



The media has been a-flutter recently, ever since Quebec media mogul Pikachu Peladeau announced he was running for the Parti Quebecois in this weird winter provincial election.

It's like he is some kind of weird Sigfried and Roy character who has mesmerized all the typists and deep thinkers with his bedazzle. Or a Moses who is standing on the banks of the Ottawa River ready to part the waters, once and for all.

Quebec will separate, Pikachu has ordained. So it is, and so it shall be, for now and all time.

Put on the brakes a minute.

Settle down, already. Nobody's going anywhere. The day after we wake up, and the PQ wins, if that happens, the sky will not fall. Poutine will not lose its flavor. Molson Canadian will taste just as good.

We've seen his ilk before, he's a paradox. Handsome in that French sort of way, Pikachu is a wearer of shiny Hong Kong suits and slave to meticulous grooming, save for a serious case of bed head. He is a friend of Brian Mulroney, nay, a protégé of Brian Mulroney, a man who got rich off Canada and now wants to take his loonies and toonies to his ski chalet and count them alone with a nice bottle of Bordeaux wine and a hunk of full fat cheese.

Like all the snake oil salesmen before him, Pikachu is a renegade, a man with a plan, a visionary who can see only slightly past the Eastern Townships. Like most separatists, Pikachu loves Canada's money but hates Canada. So give him a rope and let him hang himself by his tiny perfect bidet-coddled bullocks.

I'm old enough to have lived through two gut-wrenching referenda, with all their chain-rattling. I recoil at the thought of all those well-meaning Canadians who got on buses to go to Quebec to tell Quebeckers how much we loved them, whilst Quebeckers shrugged and said: "okay, well maybe we'll stick around until we get a better offer".

It makes me want to have a shower.

But what would happen if Quebec actually voted for separation other than the annexing of some very fine and talented athletes and a possible move for the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival?

Seriously, folks, what would it mean for those of us on the unemployment lines in the Rest of Canada?

We would still trade our pork for their cheese. We would still shop in Montreal because, let's face it, Montreal has some pretty nifty clothes. And we'd ski there. That, my friends is a certainty. We'd eat there, too.

Quebec already has its own system. It's basically opted out of ours under inter-provincial agreements which all contain these three words "except for Quebec". Quebeckers have their own pension plan, social programs and legal system. They aren't even allowed, by law, to participate in most of the contests run by companies in English Canada.

Quebec is only part of Canada when it suits. Like when it's time to equalize all those payments and handouts. Like when it comes to getting a lion's share of federal grants.

Here in the National Capital Region, there are lots of public servants who now have the best of all worlds, superannuated souls who work in Ontario but live in Quebec, the ones who hold all the good jobs because they are bilingual. They prefer the good life on the other side, that is until they need a bypass or a neonatal care facility, and realize their hospitals have gone to shit.

That's why a lot of them keep an Ottawa address, just in case.

These are the people who should be worried.

It is an absolutely certainty that if Quebec separates, bilingualism will become a quaint practice from the past and Graham Fraser will have to find another boondoggle. Perhaps he could get a job frightening merchants in Chelsea, Quebec who dare to use English on their Facebook sites.

Aside from that, the most that will be needed after separation is a four lane highway across the Ottawa River with only one lane for motorists going to Quebec.

I'm sure there would be many wrinkles to be ironed, but if I were a betting person, I would say, that should Quebeckers be convinced to separate, the official slogan of La Belle Province would be merde.

As for us in the Rest of Canada, we'd be politely waving, wishing Quebec well, but secretly murmuring under our collective breath: don't let the border hit you on the ass on your way out of Canada.

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