While working up to his conclusion that “the first task of a moral human being is not to play the stranger to our friends and judge the world as if we were gods,” Thomas Fleming (“Other People,” March) finds it necessary to issue this stirring proclamation: “It is time for Anglo-Americans, in Canada and the United States, to make up their minds once and for all that the French are in Quebec to stay.”

I’d be very much surprised if Dr. Fleming could find anyone up here who needs such advice. In fact, a great many Canadians have come to see a truly sovereign, self-supporting Quebec as a necessary step to English Canada’s regeneration.

It’s been a long time since French Canada’s otherness was considered a problem to be solved through assimilation. But while Quebec’s national institutions and traditions have been strengthened over the last 30 years or so, the opposite holds true for those of English Canada. It’s no coincidence. Bilingualism and biculturalism, Ottawa’s cause célèbre during the mid-1960’s, were forced on English Canada with far greater fervor than on Quebec. As predecessors of multiculturalism, “bi and hi” can now be seen as the first attack in the war that engulfs us.

Economically, too, Quebec is a liability. The province benefits disproportionately from government jobs, federal patronage contracts, interprovincial trade preferences, and a form of interprovincial socialism called transfer payments, which channel billions of federal tax dollars annually to Quebec, mostly from the two most westerly, least French provinces. The cost of maintaining French-language government services and state-owned French-language television and radio stations in all parts of Canada, despite the overall tiny French-speaking population (less than five percent outside of Quebec), helps explain Canada’s monstrous levels of debt and taxation. Those “millions of French-speakers in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia” to whom Dr. Fleming refers do not exist, unless there has been a dramatic increase in Haitian immigration. The 1991 census figures (the most recent available) show that Ontario, with a total population of 10,085,000, has 464,000 people whose first language is French; in New Brunswick the figures are 724,000 and 237,000. In Nova Scotia and elsewhere in Canada, most French-speakers are transplanted Québécois who work for the government or state-owned corporations. There they provide French-language services to other transplanted Québécois who work for the government or state-owned corporations.

Despite the much-vaunted minority status of the Québécois, bloc voting and political truculence have given Canada prime ministers from their province, for 26 of the last 28 years, a disproportionately French federal cabinet and bureaucracy and a political elite that relies on Quebec for much of its support. It matters not at all whether members of this elite are federalists or separatists. From an Anglo perspective, both are dedicated to ethnic preferences, social engineering, and government expansion.

The most frightening scenario is not that Quebec will secede, but that it will perpetuate its current ambiguity. The watered-down proposal for separation now being sold to the Québécois resembles not so much a self-supporting country as a comfortably well-off but financially dependent Indian reservation.

        —Greg Klein
Whitehorse, Yukon