Excerpt of Why I Am a Separatist by Marcel Chaput

From Independence of Québec
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Why I Am a Separatist

Excerpt translated in 2007 by Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote from:

Pourquoi je suis séparatiste


Marcel Chaput, biochemist, founding member of the RIN

The world is made of separatists. The man who is master in his house is separatist. The 100 nations of the Earth that seek to preserve their national identity are separatist. France and England are mutually separatist, even before the Common market. And you who desire the patriation of the Canadian constitution, you are separatist. The only difference that exist between you and me is that you want the independence of Canada vis-a-vis England and the United States whereas I want the independence of Quebec with relations to Canada. In mathematical terms, the independence of Quebec is to Canada what the independence of Canada is to the United States and England. However, Quebec has more reasons than English Canada to assert such particularism since of all four territories, Quebec is distinct by its culture while English Canada, the United States and England are identical by their language.

* * *

In spite of all this, separatism has always received bad press in Quebec. The term "separatism" itself is doubtless partly responsible for it. It is negative. It does not seem to invite us to the construction of something.

And still, for the person who stops and thinks about it, separatism leads to great tasks: to that of Independence and Liberty, to the Blossoming of the nation and French grandeur in America.

It is fashionable in some circles to call separatists dreamers. Thank God if there are still in French Canada men and women who can dream! But to grasp the distinction between the realizable dream and the utopia we must first be able to detach ourselves from a certain subjective dogmatism which has us immediately reject the independence of Quebec before it has even been thought through.

It is true that independence is more a question of character than logic. Because is not independent who wants to be. More than reason, one needs pride.

If you have this pride which makes free men, if you can rid yourself of all preconceived ideas on the subject and bring to the discussion a sincere mind capable of judgement, then, and only then, let us sit and talk.

* * *




THE SIX DIMENSIONS: Historical, Political, Economic, Cultural, Social, Psychological

THE FIVE SOLUTIONS: Assimilation, Integration, Autonomy, Confederation, Independence

THE FOUR QUESTIONS: Legitimacy, Viability, Opportunity, Possibility

THE THREE OBJECTIONS: Minorities, Isolation, Immaturity

THE TWO OPTIONS: Minority, Majority


The Six Dimensions

We are not separatist, do not force us to become so. - Maxime Raymond


A world wide wind of independence

We live, in this middle of the 20th century, historical years. Since the end of World War II, over 30 countries, former colonies, liberated themselves from foreign trusteeship and acceded to national and international sovereignty.

Why independence? We are free

Why independence? you will say. What is this separatism which makes so much noise today? We, French Canadians, are free. We can speak our language, practise our religion. We have the right to vote, even that of being elected. Isn't the current presence of a French Canadian in the position of Governor General the very refutation of separatist assertions? And the two French Canadian prime ministers? And the chief justice of the Supreme Court? And Generals? Do the separatists want to compare the French Canadians to the tribes of Africa which in the past years have conquered their independence? The black peoples, illiterate in many cases, sometimes deprived of the most basic rights, exploited, living in under-developed countries, were right to claim the independence they did not have. But our case as French Canadians, is very different.

Resemblance and difference

It is true that our case as French Canadians is not identical to that of Blacks in Africa. It is true that we have, and since a long time, rights that these people did not enjoy until recently. But the possession of certain rights of which they were deprived, the partial command over our national affairs, even if far superior to that of these newly decolonized countries, still does not ensure us total independence. We can be closer to a goal than a neighbour is, but still not have reached our goal yet.

In the rise of peoples toward their independence there are no two identical cases. But the way in which French Canada resembles all these newly sovereign countries is that it was also conquered by arms, occupied, dominated, exploited, and that even today its destiny, for a great part, rests in the hands of a foreign nation.

Individual liberties, collective liberties

Maybe you enjoy a great liberty. Maybe you are financially independent and live in a very French milieu in Quebec sheltered from the everyday hassles of bilingualism. Good for you! But that is not the question. It is not a question of knowing if this French Canadian or that one is free or not; it is about, on the contrary, establishing the degree of liberty of the French-Canadian nation. And on this subject, it is not necessary to be a separatist to observe that the French-Canadian nation is not free.

A few features of our history

Three and a half centuries ago, our ancestors came here to found a French country on the banks of the St. Lawrence. In 1760, the fate of a battle had us pass under the British crown. After the struggles they had engaged against aboriginals and nature, our ancestors had to engage on the battle of Survival.

Than in 1867 came the British North America Act. What was this act to reserve, in the minds of the Fathers of confederation, to the French-Canadian element? Did MacDonald and Cartier share a common ideal or did they both secretly cherish in their heads different dreams? It is not for me to decide this question. In fact, it is not important. Because what keeps the adherents to the Independence of Quebec busy is not the interpretation of texts, but the observation of facts. And the study of our history reveals us the three following facts:

- firstly, in 1760, the river banks of the St. Lawrence were not waste lands offered to public auction, but an inhabited territory populated by a civilized people which had made a country out of it; - secondly, the history of French Canada shows a continuity which no action of the invader was able to break; - thirdly, The British North America Act does not represent the deliberate and free choice of the majority of French Canadians at the time, but is a law from London adopted to govern its colonies in America.

Confederation: a lesser evil

To assert, like some people do, that the Confederation was freely accepted by the French Canadians of the time, it is to play on words, it is to distort the meaning of liberty. First, never was the British North America Act submitted to the votes. It was imposed by a decree of the Parliament of Westminster and by a majority of 26 against 22 given by Canadian parliamentarians.

For the Confederation to have been the result of a true choice by the French-Canadian people, it would have been necessary for French Canadians to be free to opt either for Confederation, or for complete sovereignty. And the freedom of choice was not recognized to them - neither by the Parliament of London, nor by the other English colonies in America.

En 1867, French Canada, Lower Canada, formerly just Canada, was a British colony and the alternative that it was being offered did not include independence. Colony it was, and colony it was to remain, inside or outside Confederation. If, for the French Canada of the time, there was freedom of choice, it was the freedom of the condemned to whom the judge allows to chose between a fine or prison. Like the condemned, who chooses the fine, if he can afford the luxury of it, French Canada chose confederation.

The two deadly poisons of Confederation

On Tuesday May 30, 1961, The Montreal Gazette published in editorial a thorough article as flattering as it was dangerous. This article, entitled "Separatism and Quebec" poured generous doses of this double poison which is at the basis of the French-Canadian problem.

According to the main passage of this article, the weakness of the separatist movement comes from the fact that it cannot render justice neither to the rank nor the mission of the Canadians of French culture and race in the life of the great Canada.

As with the rest of the article, these words are rich in meaning because they formulate and illustrate the two most noxious effects of Confederation: firstly, to have distorted in the minds of French Canadians the understanding of their borders, secondly, to have made us, French Canadians, a minority people.

Thus, by well orchestrated phrases, thrown in a timely manner, English Canada has happily managed, at least until now, to convince the French Canadians that their mission was too promising, their past too glorious to let themselves be locked up inside vulgar borders.

"Go ahead - they say - aim for the whole of North America. Be present everywhere."

"An that way - do they think secretly - you will be masters nowhere."

Maybe you believe, like many of your compatriots, for having heard it a thousand times, that English Canadians have invented the idea of the Quebec reserve. And me I tell you that it is not so. They have invented the idea a thousand times more harmful of dispersion, the idea of a minority people.

And the Canadian nation?

There is no Canadian nation. That is to say that there cannot be at the same time in Canada a Canadian nation and a French Canadian nation. There is one Canadian State.

Some would like in certain milieus that there be a Canadian nation - or rather a Canadian one [1]. However this Canadian nation, or Canadian one, can only be built on the negation of the French-Canadian identity.

Canada is a purely political construct artificially founded in the first place on the force of arms and maintained by the submission of French Canadians to the Canadian regime.

On the contrary, the French-Canadian nation is a natural family whose ties are those of flesh and mind.

If, for example, the American Army invaded Mexico and attached it to the United States, there would still be a Mexican nation. In the same manner there still is a French-Canadian nation.

The confrontation of two nationalisms

The separatists too want that French Canadians be present everywhere, in Canada, in America and the world. But they also believe that French Canadians must first be the masters somewhere, in a country of their own, Quebec.

That is why the new separatism constitute an incompatible opposition to traditional nationalism. Whereas the former worked at getting rights to be respected in a vast Canada inside which the French-Canadian people are a minority, the new separatism, Quebec sovereigntism, aspires to have the French Canadians become a people who are masters of their own destiny.

It would be futile to search for anglophobia, discontent, and a spirit of revenge in it. There is none. We should stop claiming that the reparation of the injustices of which the French Canadians are the victims would make the idea of an independent Quebec disappear. That is false.

We want independence for another reason completely.

Because dignity requires it. Because, as the absentees, minorities are always wrong.


The art to govern oneself

Being neither a politician by profession and even less a teacher of political science, the curiosity to look up politique in my Petit Larousse comes to me. And in it, I find a too obvious truth, the following definition:

Politique: art de se gouverner. (Politics: the art to govern oneself.)

Going back later on, mentally, to my school years, I remember that se is a pronoun which represent, at the same time, the person performing the action and the one on whom the action is performed. That is to say, if my grammatical exegesis is good, that politics is the government of the people by the people.

But, haunted by the need for originality, French Canadians love to do things otherwise. You believe yourself democrat? You love to tell yourself that Quebec is autonomous? That is has rights?

Of course Quebec has rights. Especially those which it did not use in the past, or those it abandoned to others. But that is not the question. I am talking about the rights of Québec, fatherland of 83% of French Canadians, before the federal power. Now, there are certain situations which singularly limit the importance of the pronoun se in the art de se gouverner.

The constitutional aspect

The question here is not to know if the British North America Act is, in the spirit and in the letter, autonomist or centralist. Once again, it is of little importance to me. There is however in the said confederal constitutional organization of Canada certain dangers that will always limit the possibilities we enjoy to serve our interests. They are the disallowance right, the Supreme Court and the federal's exclusive or priority right.

Disallowance right

Article 90 of the British North America Act recognizes a right of the federal to nullify a decision by a provincial government. No doubt, this right has always been invoked for good reasons. It nevertheless remains that the federal power can cancel a decision of our French-Canadian government of Quebec, which is the very negation of the sovereignty of French Canada.

If, however, the federal government can, by using its veto right, sinned by commission, it has in the past sinned by omission by not invoking its veto when it should have been done. During the time of the French and Catholic schools of Manitoba, or Regulation 17 in Ontario which deprived French Canadians from being taught in their language and religion, the federal government did not dare intervene. The disallowance was not exercised.

The Supreme Court

It is not at all my idea to speak ill of such an august magistracy. But alas, its judges are but men, with qualities and flaws and, for most, a political past. Especially a political past serving the federal state.

In principle, we cannot reproach it to them. However, these judges, for the majority English-speaking, sometimes have to rule on litigations involving the French-Canadian collectivity. Their mentality being different from ours, these judges cannot advisedly evaluate the facts connected to our French life. In short - and that is a fundamental vice - the French and Catholic province of Quebec appears before a jury not made out of her pears.

It is the same in political matters. These judges who have all the competence and impartiality needed when comes the time to rule on common law offences no longer have this essential impartiality when it is time to voice an opinion on a political question or to give an interpretation of an article of the constitution. I repeat, their political past serving the federal parliament has impregnated them - and it is only human - with a federalist or federalizing mentality that is, practically speaking, centralizing. The province of Quebec before the Supreme Court of Canada is an autonomous public body in the majority French-Canadian being judged by an English-speaking and centralizing court. In such a case, the province of Quebec, French and Catholic, can only loose. And has lost many times. Very few will see a protection there. It is in reality a form of colonialism.

The federal's exclusive or priority right

It does not fall under the mandate of this book to study the British North America Act, but the reading of article 91 and 92 allows us to measure the weakness of provincial governments before the vast authority of the federal power. It comes out of this reading that:

- The great fields of administration are exclusive federal jurisdictions: economy, defence, external trade, banking, immigration, criminal law, etc.;

- The federal parliament can legislate in almost all the fields of the provinces but the provinces cannot legislate in the exclusively federal jurisdictions;

- Everywhere a jurisdiction is both federal and provincial, the federal legislation is preponderant;

And so it is, Quebec, the national State of French Canadians , has the right to legislate in education but it does not have the material means to apply its legislation because the money is in the hands of Ottawa.

The parliamentary aspect

The House of Commons comprises 265 members coming from all parts of Canada. Of this group, 75 represent Quebec. Supposing that the number of English-speaking members of parliament from Quebec be equal, which is more or less the case, to the number of French-speaking members from the other provinces, the House of Commons counts about 75 French-speaking members. That is to say that in Ottawa, Quebec, or the French-Canadian nation, is an absolute minority.

That the House of Commons be called upon to debate a question intimately related to French-Canadian life and the final outcome of the debate rests solely on the vote of the English-speaking majority. Of course, the English-speaking members of parliament do not systematically vote against a French-Canadian proposal. This would be open war. But it remains true that, in all fields that belong to the federal Parliament, the faith of the French-Canadian nation is in the hands of English Canadians. Even the sacred union of all French-Canadian members - which did not happen very often - cannot change anything to that.

According to the political system currently in force in Ottawa, and according to the composition of the Canadian population, the French-Canadian nation represented by her French-speaking members is condemned to play in Ottawa the role of an opposition party.

May God wish for Anglo-Canadians to protect us because we are politically at their mercy. It is democracy which wants it so. And democracy will always require that we accept the decisions of the majority.

The political role of a minority

In a democracy, the faith of any political proposition is determined by the minority-majority movement. If the French Canadians form in Canada, or in the House of Commons, a minority, they play an essential role in it, because the world is made of minorities and majorities.

However, this same democracy requires that the minority-majority relationship be necessarily mobile, that is to say that we may sometimes belong to the minority, sometimes to the majority, without repudiating one's origins or principles.

Now, the greatest vice of Canadian politics, is that the French-Canadian group is necessarily a minority before a majority that is always the same. The fixity of the minority-majority relationship can thus only be the negation of democracy.

If French Canadians are not satisfied by the decisions of the majority, they just have to leave Confederation. The worried clay pot is not required to travel alongside the iron pot. Otherwise, the French Canadians will have to resign to play only the role of a minority in a parliament: to slow down the approval of the proposals of the majority. You want an example? The conscription during the last Great War. The quasi totality of French Canadians voted No on the plebiscite on the subject, whereas the rest of Canada voted Yes. The conscription was imposed. We were only able to slow down its application.

The census campaign

Maybe you think that the recent national campaign to the have Canadian be removed from the choices on question 10 of the census questionnaire contradicts what I said. And yet, the reason for the success of this campaign is obvious, of a hurtful obviousness, when one compares it to all the other campaign which have failed.

For example, that of the Château Maisonneuve with 25,000 signatures did not succeed where only (?) 90,000 letters forced Ottawa to back down. Why?

Because Ottawa cannot do a census of Canada without all Canadians consenting to answer the questions asked. Revolted by question 10, French Canadians could falsify, by abstention or fictitious answers, the whole purpose of the census. In the case of the Château Maisonneuve, Ottawa, through the national railroads, did not need the physical participation of French Canadians to operate its hotel. So it did without.

Necessity of balance

In political matters as with other matters, there is a need to balance. And the ethnic composition of Canada and the Canadian Parliament offset this balance. Constitutionally, no matter what the autonomists say, the Canadian Confederation is no longer a pact between two races, but a contract between ten shareholders, including one who has a different language and culture. On the federal scene, the voice of Quebec is worth one tenth. According to the census of 1951, French Canadians represent 29% of the Canadian population. Demographically, we are worth between one third and one fourth of the vote. We therefore constitute on both accounts a powerless minority.

Some will say that the vote of Quebec can decide the poll. That was once true, but the election of 1957 have contradicted this belief. From now on, a political party can be elected in Ottawa and constitute a stable government without the support of Quebec. The year 1957 constitute thereof an important date in the history of French Canada.


But maybe you are among those who blindly believe that the French-Canadian population is growing and that things will work out fine in the end.

It is true that the number of French Canadians augments with passing years. But so does the number of Anglo-Canadians, and faster even. Because they benefit from immigration while we do not. So much that of the 29% that we were in 1951, we will no longer be in 2001, that is to say in 40 years, according to demographer Jacques Henripin*, more than 20% and maybe even 17% of the population of Canada.

Do you realize the untenable - and absurd - situation in which our children and grand-children will be? You hope that English Canada will grant them, 17%, the rights that we, at 29%, or that our fathers at 35% could not obtain?

Aren't you the utopian here?

Pact between two great races

French Canada is unfortunately populated by people who, for lack of realism, love to tell each other stories. And one of the most dangerous ones is that the Confederation is a sacred pact between two great races, the French race and the English race. That is poetic. It makes you feel something strong. But it is nevertheless an illusion. Because one searches in vain, in the texts, and more so in the facts, just a little word or a little gesture that allows it to be supposed.

The great and the small political decisions of Canada are taken in the Parliament or the Cabinet, where French Canadians are a minority. An example? the entry of Newfoundland in the Confederation or the adherence of Canada to the UN, NATO or NORAD did not need the approval of French Canada. Even if we had been consulted, the minority that we are could not have changed anything to it.

You will reply that French is all the same an official language. You are wrong. Or at least, you are but partially in the right. French is, with English, official in Quebec - which makes it the only bilingual province - , in the Parliament of Ottawa and in the federal courts of justice. From the start, this limitation puts French on unequal footing vis-a-vis English.

In the Parliament, 9% of speeches were pronounced in French since the installation of simultaneous translation. Are the French-speaking members of parliament less loquacious than the English-speaking colleagues? Or do they simply want to show the "superiority" of the perfect bilingualism? No. It is simply the reflex of a minority, conditioned by 200 years of trusteeship.

The final result: From the inside, Canada is a country where English highly predominates and from the outside it is also an English country where, it is said, that English and French live in perfect harmony for the edification of human kind.

  • Conférence des sociétés savantes, Montreal, June 6 1961. In the newspapers.


After all, we are not doing so bad

For a lot of people, not only French Canadians, the economic aspect of a problem is always the most important. Before the proposition of the independence of Quebec, they will invariably say that they will support this idea the day they will have been demonstrated that Quebec would benefit from it economically speaking.

It is the the goal of this book to prove the economic viability of an independent Quebec. We will discuss it later on. These few pages have the sole purpose of reminding you that, currently in Canada, in the Confederation, French Canadians have not won a thing. On the contrary, they lose constantly.

Maybe the comfort, which is always relative, which you enjoy makes you feel for a serious setback of your standard of living, a marked change in your habits, a prolonged economic recession. After all, French Canadians are not doing so bad, whatever they say.

I hasten to remind you that we are not referring to individual liberty here. There are among French Canadians some rich men, millionaire even, which seems to provide the evidence that a French Canadian can grow rich, even inside Confederation. The matter here are French Canadians taken as a people, as a nation, and Quebec, the province which they inhabit. And the French Canadian nation is an economically weak and economically under-developed nation, that lives under an economic trusteeship.

I am not here trying to establish who shares the responsibilities for this situation. We will come back to it in the next book. I am only recording a fact. Economically, the French Canadians are a people under trusteeship.

A people under trusteeship

No need to be an economist, statistician or an informed industrialist to realize that French Canadians are not the masters, the owners of their own province or of their own cities.



After they have ensured themselves three meals a day, a people are essentially a culture. Not that they are always aware of it. For most peoples, the question need not even to be asked for one's entire life contributes to making this culture a reality. Happy and manly are these peoples that can win their three meals a day without denying their own culture. Such is not the case of the French-Canadian people. At least for half of this people or ours.

English, language of work and thought

In all countries in the world, there ought to be bilinguals. Diplomatic services, transports, communications, hostels, the army, the public service need interpreters, need translators. But in which proportion? That is where the problem lies. Let us suppose 5%; that is generous. Here, in French Canada, it is at least half the workers who must know English to earn a living. Of this group, at least half must, like me, rid themselves of their mother tongue, French, international language on top of it, the everyday language of 150 million human beings, rid themselves of it, says I, like a vulgar coat, every morning when entering the office or the factory.

For the majority of French-Canadian workers, and even in Quebec, English is the language of work and of thought. French? Language of translation, family language, folkloric language. The French Canadian lives in his language a folkloric existence. The active life, the life of bread on the table, the life of entertainment, the life of the mind: one out of two times, it goes on in English.

You smile out of doubt? Run through the catalogue of the federal [sic] press - I refuse to grant it the "national" quality: 25,000 English texts of which a third are translated into French. Magnificent someone will say; insufficient will say some other. They are both wrong, because it is at the same time too much and too little. Of these 8,000 to 10,000 French texts, you have 8 or 10 (not 1000) which were thought and written originally in French. All the others were translated from English.

You believe you are going to French cinema - where there is some French. Two times out of three you only see a French version. You open your French language newspaper, you read the French translation of the English translation of the French text of a speech pronounced in French by general de Gaulle. The Canadian Press (not the Presse canadienne: there isn't one) never presented you the original, and that, in a country where, some say, French is official. You take a Canadian magazine of French expression. It was recently bought by Anglo-American capital. You walk by a big building, even in Montreal: three words of French on a bronze plaque and a bilingual elevator boy. Do not ask anything more. Here ends the French language. "Please leave your language in the wardrobe."

And we fight for bilingual cheques! Artisanat! Artisanat! Artisanat!

And we ask for bilingualism in Vancouver! Pancanadian cultural imperialism; cultural colonialism in Quebec!

I hate all French-Canadian translators - who are all charming boys by the way, I know a couple - because everyday they lie to the nation. They make us believe that French is safe, that everything is going fine Madame la Marquise, when, in reality, they pour at 100 lines an hour in its atrophied mind, THE THOUGHT OF OTHERS.



We are inferior to ourselves

As in other fields, and maybe more so in this one, French Canadians are inferior to themselves. We often hear: what do we have to complain about? We have accomplished a lot. Didn't we get two Prime Ministers, a Governor General, a Chief Justice? Don't we have our own artists, our own scientists, our writers?

It is true that despite serious difficulties, the French Canadians have produced a lot. But it goes the same of peoples as of men: the question is not only to know if they have produced, but also if they have produced enough, if they have produced as much as they should have produced. That is the parabola of talents.



In the country of confusion

It must be that the French-Canadian nation has been of an incomparable vitality to have survived not to the open attacks, but to the disfavourable psychological conditions in which she lives since such a long time. Because, for the French Canadian, Canadian life is a web of daily contradiction which constitute the greatest method of brainwashing ever invented. Under such conditions, very few peoples would have lasted.

You think I exaggerate, that the Canadian psychological climate offer nothing very bad? Let us see together some of those contradictions to which any national of a normal people is exempted and on the contrary inside which the French Canadians struggle daily:

  • He is Canadian, but he is also French Canadian
  • His country is Canada as a whole, but he is accepted only in Quebec
  • He is told he belongs to the great French civilization, but he soon hears about the "Maudits Français" (damned French).
  • He must be bilingual; the others are unilingual.
  • He is told in school and other places the beauties of the French language; he is pushed to learn English.
  • He is told that Canada is a bicultural country; he can hardly obtain service in French West of Montreal.
  • He thinks he speaks an international language; the words "Speak White" are spit in his face.
  • He enters a French-language university; he studies with American manuals.
  • He is told about national unity, but is ordered: "Stay in your province".
  • He is told loudly that Canada is an independent country; everyday, he sees the Queen of another country on his currency and his stamps.
  • He is told that his province is the richest; it is always in his province that there is the most unemployment.
  • He is told that he can accede to all positions, but he is imposed the additional obligation of bilingualism.
  • He is called on to feel for Canada; he is played God Save the Queen.
  • He sees the Fleur-de-Lys flag on June 24 flown on the mast of buildings; a week later he sees the Red Ensign flown on the mast of City Hall
  • He is exhorted to rid himself of his inferiority complex; he is told he does not have the maturity to manage himself.
  • He is incited to feel proud and he is proposed a sheep as emblem.

And it goes on like that until death follows. And one wonders why the local merchant does not have to self-pride to advertise in French, that the young man from around here does not have the audacity for great endeavours, that the young first-of-class suddenly looses his enthusiasm.

One would wish to make a people die that there would be no need to use any other means.


The Five Solutions

Self-government is better than good government. - The English


To the French-Canadian problem which assails us since 200 years, what solution can we bring today?

It would be very entertaining and instructive, if we had the time and space, to enumerate all the solutions that were proposed. This list would be a tribute the the richness of our French imagination, and above all, our disarray. Because politically, we have invented everything, in spirit, we French Canadians, to solve our national problem. We have invented everything that is illusory, lame, artificial, and what else do I know? But our imagination, or rather our servility and our complexes, made us forget the most natural, the most normal, the most legitimate of all solutions: sovereignty, independence.

Of this array of proposals, five will be retained. They are the main ones: total assimilation, lucid integration, provincial autonomy, a true confederation, and, finally, independence.

From time to time, and especially in the newspapers, English or French, we read invitations to assimilation, to anglicization. Why, some say, waste our time learning French in school when, once arrived in life, it is English that we need? when, even in the province of Quebec, in Montreal, second French-language city in the world, some say, we can hardly earn the means to subsist without the daily use of English? Wouldn't it be more profitable to cease these sterile struggles that make us waste so much of our energy, without ever taking us out of our inferiority, and anglicize ourselves once and for all? Besides, in any case, the anglicization of French Canadians is inevitable; it is only a matter of time. Others, without writing letters to newspapers, without screaming it out loud on all the roofs and without waiting for invitations, are already letting themselves be anglicized.

Upon reading those letters, at the news of those defections, many of our compatriots call those former brothers deserters. Not me.

To be fully one of the others

Oh, I regret just like you the attitude of these people, but we must face the truth. All those renegades who opted, voluntarily or without realizing it, for assimilation, did all in all but one wrong thing: that of having been practical, of having followed the current. In fact, there is between them and us, sovereignists, a very great resemblance. Both them and us, we have had enough, we are fed up, as we say in Paris, to be second class citizens, scorned by our co-citizens speaking the other language, slowed down in our advancement, living a diminished national life. We have had enough to serve, and see our children serve, as innocent victims of the entertaining of an illusion, that of a bilingual Canada.






The Four Questions





The Three Objections




The Two Options



The Only Reason

A people wanting to live must do something else than not dying. - Lionel Groulx


One hundred and fifty pages to demonstrate the advantages of an independent Quebec is very little when each one of the aspects being treated could produce an entire book. And still, one hundred and fifty pages is a lot. In fact, it is way too much. Unless one writes the word "dignity" one hundred and fifty times.

Is this patrioticking lyricism - to give a beautiful ending - worthy of crowning a work of this kind? Or is it a mathematical necessity imposed by the pyramidal chapter structure?

It would be showing a profound misunderstanding of men and peoples to claim such a thing. Man does not live only on bread and the French-Canadian nation cannot be asked to live in daily contempt any longer.

These are neither words of anglophobia arising from a two-century old feeling of vengeance. If this was the reason for independence, the success of our cause would soon be compromised, because life teaches us that nothing stable could be built on the burning sands of hatred.

History decided that we be the vanquished in a battle whose stake was a continent. We are not rebelling against history. The English - is it necessary to say it? - are definitely settled in America. But so are we, little people of six million, maybe eight or nine, from the Yukon to the Mexican Gulf, we are settled for good on this continent on which our ancestors were the first colonists.


This is a translated excerpt of Pourquoi je suis séparatiste (Why I Am a Separatist), a book by Marcel Chaput first published in 1961 at Les Éditions du Jour. This is an original and unofficial translation for this site.

Heckert GNU white.png This text is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.