For some years I have lived in Québec as a friendly alien from the United States, traveling from time to time back to my native Minnesota and other states to practice law in my fields of interest. I am married to a French-Canadian wife who is a member of the bar and mairesse of our country village. Together we have raised our bilingual children of dual citizenship. I was involved in helping to defuse by effective legal means the separatist crisis which posed a very real threat of civil war between Québec and Anglo-Canada. Québec now enjoys the security of the Confederation, yet has the option of independence. She has an adjudicated right of secession from the Union in certain circumstances. Her flag alone, without the federal banner, flies from her parliament building. And she has constitutional standing as a distinct society and a nation within Canada. Both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition in Ottawa are honest friends of Québec. The hostility between Québec and Anglo-Canada, which once came close to unleashing hatred and spilling blood, is now a thing of the past, mercifully dormant, thankfully forgotten. The Union waxes strong from sea to sea. Canada did right in 1995-2000 what the United States did wrong in 1860-65. Both Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun would have been edified by what I watched unfold before my very eyes.
Québec has since sunk into an identity crisis, trying to determine what she is. Politicians imbued with political correctness, multiculturalism, and other contemporary inanities say that Québec is a pluralist society, yet nothing could be more obvious to a foreigner like myself than that Québec is a French, Catholic society, unspoiled by the corrupt values of the French Revolution. Of course, there are minorities that are generally well treated, but this society is homogeneous. My friends here are amused by my “anglophone” accent, they correct my errors in French grammar, they try out their English on me at parties and receptions, and they make me translate French into English for them, but Québec is their country. Accordingly, I write strictly as an American observer living among them.
The motto of Québec is “Je me souviens”—“I remember”—for these people are supposed to remember their roots and thus recall who they are. But natives here are so close to the situation that many of them have forgotten. It is no secret that Québec is the modern legal embodiment of what was New France, which was cradled by the French crown, but above all else was a missionary project of the Catholic Church, as is everywhere apparent even in our age of secular humanism run riot. After the Battle on the Plains of Abraham, French magistrates and troops went back to Europe, leaving the Catholic Church as the indigenous basis of order and civilization. British soldiers and diplomats came to an understanding with the Catholic Church: The inhabitants of Québec could keep their language, their religion, and their culture if they would be good subjects of the king of Great Britain, who then sweetened the deal by teaching the arts of British parliamentary government. It was one of the most fabulously successful, mutually beneficial political bargains in the history of North America. And so Québec is a French and Catholic society, make no mistake about it, but she is also a society decorated with Scottish tartans, Irish shamrocks, and fine old English names of French-speaking families—a society raised to maturity by the British crown. Without the Catholic Church and the British crown, everybody in Québec would today be eating American hot dogs, drinking flat American beer, and watching American baseball.
During the tense days when the enemies of Québec engineered a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada in the expectation that the judges would deny any right of secession, the lawyer pleading the cause for Québec gallantly rested his argument on the constitutional attributes of the British crown. The political turning point in the struggle came when the cardinal-archbishop of Montreal, prince of the Catholic Church, insisted in a dramatic public statement that the people of Québec, not the judges in Ottawa, would decide the question of independence from the rest of Canada. About the same time an eminent federalist statesman in Québec, who had led the opposition to separatism in the provincial legislature, stepped forward. Like many Québécois his given name was French, but his family name was Irish. Eloquently, he said that, while he always favored the reconciliation with Anglo-Canada, he never doubted that Québec had a constitutional prerogative to withdraw from the Union. And Québec prevailed against all odds by thus asserting herself, based on her true identity which reposes on the historic alliance between the British crown and the Catholic Church. The hard-nosed federalists in Ottawa have been in denial ever since.
Yet once the sovereign rights of Québec were memorably vindicated, the identity of the French nation of North America has been ruthlessly attacked, not by wicked politicians in Ottawa who are now icons of the past, but by all three political parties in the national assembly of Québec. For legislators have been duped by bureaucrats and pseudo-intellectuals doing the bidding of high finance and betraying their country. Québec now has a law that requires obligatory teaching of a new state religion in all public and private schools. It was once guaranteed as a constitutional principle in the Québec Charter that parents could stipulate the religious and moral instruction of their children in public schools. It was possible for parents to designate that their children should be taught the Catholic Faith, or the Protestant Faith, or enrolled in a course in general civic morality. About 86 percent of the children in Québec thus received Catholic instruction. But now the government has abolished this regime and imposed something else, which is a mandatory teaching of all religions in one general course of instruction—Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, grand medicine of the Indian tribes, even NOW-style feminism and Al Gore-style environmentalism, indeed every religion or quasireligious teaching, including atheism and agnosticism. For, you see, although Québec was an harmonious society before, we must all “get along” according to those who have designed this course in “religious and cultural ethics.”
All religions now must be taught in Québec as true, equal, and one, and this synthesis is drummed into the minds of children, over the protest of their parents. The minister of education has fanatically taken a hard line that, while exemptions are allowable under the statute, no exemptions shall ever be granted. The difficulty is that this view is nothing but obligatory teaching of Freemasonry, contrary to the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church, which is a cornerstone for the unique identity of Québec. This teaching has been condemned by Leo XIII in the encyclical Humanum genus (1884), by Pius XI in the encyclicals Mortalium animos (1928) and Divini illius magistri (1929). This course in “religious harmony” has been condemned by the new cardinal-archbishop of Québec and Catholic primate of Canada, and by the prefecture of Catholic education at the Vatican. The prerogative of parents to supervise the religious and moral education of their children has been repeatedly confirmed, not only by the Catholic Church, but by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Lawyers and parents are now preparing to assault this outrage in the superior court of Québec. I know the lawyers; they are excellent men. And although they are right and the law is on their side, the outcome of the coming fight is as yet by no means clear. Government officials are not at all concerned about justice, they have public money and prostituted academics to support them, and they have lots of power.