Option Québec

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Option Québec
1968

Excerpt translated in 2008 by Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote from:

Option Québec



Foreword - At the hour of choice

One can truly be a social man, worthy of the name, if he has a homeland of his own and that no one can dispute. Most often one is born in a homeland; but often it must, alas, be conquered. - Jacques Madaule

Last October, we were leaving the Liberal Party of Quebec.

Six months earlier, we were about twenty gathering inside an inn at Mont-Tremblant to discuss, between us, the constitutional question. Through many incidents, which the press largely reported and which we will not analyze here, we continued the research and the reflexion which were to lead us to an option likely to reconcile the reality of interdependence with the requirements of political sovereignty necessary to the development of modern nations, where the State plays so great a part in the economic, social and cultural life of peoples.

This option for a sovereign Québec, associated with the rest of Canada as part of a new union, is the subject of the texts which we collected in this small book for all those who currently examine the future of Quebec and Canada.

The book is not an electoral program. One will not find in this work an answer to all questions. But one will find a spirit and an option.

We are, we believe, at the hour of choice.

An inescapable choice that we must have the courage to consider, without getting lost in vain quarrels over words, formulae or personalities.

The Canadian constitutional crisis is not "an invention"... Not only does it exist, but it unceasingly goes on worsening and approaches the boiling temperature.

Even those disturbed by it, even those who fear it, must remember that it is Quebec which started the crisis - and which, consequently, must find in itself the lucidity and courage to initiate its outcome.

What is it about? It is about the right to live one's own life, the right to live our life; right to life of men, whether weak or strong; right to life of peoples or nations, whatever their size.

As Fernand Dumont, dean of the Institut des sciences humaines at Université Laval, we believe "in the virtue of small nations", and we claim the right to live for ours.

This life we want to live is that of free men of which we want to assume the full responsibility; unless we be a child, we do not have the right to abdicate this responsibility, to trade it for some supervision, however comfortable it may be.

But this life, nothing prevents us from wanting to live it fully all the while associating it naturally with that of the others, that of the other men, that of the other peoples, equal to equal.

That is what we propose to Canadians.

As for us, we do not see another solution, not because of despair, but because of hope!

This hope is founded on the conviction that free peoples, like men, can unite to build this new society which will answer their needs, to edify the free city of tomorrow.

We have a country to build, and we have little time remaining to do it.

Roch Banville, Rosaire Beaule, Gérard Bélanger, Jean R. Boivin, Marc Brière, Pothier Ferland, Maurice Jobin, René Lévesque, Monique Marchand, Guy Pelletier, Réginald Savoie

Preface

From now on, beyond the battles of political parties, beyond the often badly dissimulated interests of certain classes of society, beyond the visceral fear of risk, it appears indisputable that Quebec is entirely engaged on the irreversible path toward sovereignty.

It is not a revolutionary phenomenon. An attentive historical analysis shows the present results - that it is for us to carry out to perfection - from a slow and hard evolution which goes back two centuries.

What appears to be new is the acceleration of the movement and the increasingly acute awakening which it causes through all the layers of Quebec's population. It is felt, by retaining one's breath, that the deadline approaches.

After the decantation operated by time, it seems more clear today than the Duplessis regime gave rise to two tendencies, at the beginning distinct: the first in reaction to years of oppositions to progress, seeking to promote in all fields the social development of Quebec's world; the second, stressing the quality of the political status and the constitutional frameworks inside which the destiny of Quebec had to be continued.

At the beginning, the opposition between the two tendencies might have appeared irreducible to certain people. Social reformers, in particular, who had seen in Quebec nationalism but a factious outlet for energies one had better used elsewhere - which was often the case - attacked the advocates of a reformed or new Constitution, in particular the extremists who brutally started to propose the status of independence.

What one named the opening of the Sixties, that is to say the restarting at more normal rhythm of Quebec society towards the known ideals of any modern society, clearly demonstrated that the ditch between the social and the national was much more illusory than real. The majority of the social reformers of the 1950-1960 decade, of the keenest antiduplessists, the most assiduous vilifier of nationalism, surprise themselves today hoping that the Canadian Constitution be corrected to allow the national community of Quebec a greater liberty of action. And that in spite of the remaining recalcitrants who, under the sign of the dove, endeavour to maintain the collapsing political status quo. They are useful markers allowing us to better measure the travelled way.

One cannot prevent that the development of Quebec society tends toward the development of the Quebec nation to the point of identification. Freer, more democratic, more educated, richer, Quebecers necessarily have a clearer conscience of their unity as a group and more clearly foresee sovereignty as an essential condition to the improvement of their community. The social nourishes the national until the national seems the essential key of a greater social comfort.

Psychologically, we are there or very close. At the tactical level, we are at the point of searching for the options which will accelerate or slow down the movement.

...

First part - This country we must build

First Chapter - "We"

We are Québécois.

What that means first and foremost—and if it need be, all that it means—is that we are attached to this one corner of the Earth where we can be completely ourselves; this Quebec, the only place where we have the unmistakable feeling that “here we can really be at home”.

Being ourselves is essentially a matter of keeping and developing a personality that has survived for three and a half centuries.

At the core of this personality is the fact that we speak French. Everything else depends on this one essential element and follows from it or leads us infallibly back to it.

In our history, America began with a French look, briefly but gloriously given it by Champlain, Jolliet, La Salle, La Vérendrye ... We learned our first lessons in progress and perseverance from Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance, Jean Talon; and in daring or heroism from Lambert Closse, Brébeuf, Frontenac, d'Iberville ...

Then came the Conquest. We were a conquered people, our hearts set on surviving in some small way on a continent that had become Anglo-Saxon.

Somehow or other, through countless changes and a variety of regimes, despite difficulties without number (our lack of awareness and even our ignorance serving all too often as our best protection), we succeeded.

Here again, when we recall the major historical landmarks, we come upon a profusion of names: Etienne Parent and Lafontaine and the Patriotes of ’37; Louis Riel and Honoré Mercier, Bourassa, Philippe Hamel; Garneau and Edouard Montpetit and Asselin and Lionel Groulx ... For each of them, the main driving force behind every action was the will to continue, and the tenacious hope that they could make it worthwhile.

Until recently in this difficult process of survival we enjoyed the protection of a certain degree of isolation. We lived a relatively sheltered life in a rural society in which a great measure of unanimity reigned, and in which poverty set its limits on change and aspirations alike.

We are children of that society, in which the habitant, our father or grandfather, was still the key citizen. We also are heirs to that fantastic adventure—that early America that was almost entirely French. We are, even more intimately, heirs to the group obstinacy which has kept alive that portion of French America we call Quebec.

Chapter II - The acceleration of history

Chapter III - The Quiet Revolution

Chapter IV - Essentials of life

Chapter V - The dead-end

Chapter VI - The way of the future

Second part - This country we can build

From the politic to the economic

Chapter I - The Association

I. The bet

II. The project

Chapter II - The transition period

I. Financing the State

II. Maintaining the investments

III. And the flight of capital?

Third part - Appendices

Appendix I - Particular statuses

Appendix II - Neo-centralizations

Appendix III - Québec-Canada: right in the dead-end

Appendix IV - The lure of "biculturalism"

Appendix V - Associations of Sovereign States

Appendix VI - Other testimonys

Sovereignty, condition for salvation

The independence of Québec

Annexe VII - Panic Operation

Conclusion

Epilogue

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