The French Revolution in Canadarnby Kenneth McDonaldrnIn their British North America (BNA) Act of 1867, the Fathersrnof Canada’s confederation produced a work of genius.rnThe two senior levels of government were awarded separaternand exclusive powers: Ottawa over national matters; provincialrngovernments over property and civil rights and “generally allrnmatters of a merely local or private nature in the province.”rnThis enabled Quebec to keep the French language, the civilrncode, and the French tradition of legislated rights and entitlementsrnunder a centralized authority. The English provincesrnkept their common law tradition of inherent freedom and responsibilityrnunder sovereign parliaments. Thus the mattersrnwhich later became so prominent in national debate, namelyrnlanguage and culture, were constitutionally confined to the jurisdictionrnof the provinces.rnThirty years ago, when Quebec’s Quiet Revolution stirred itsrnsovereignhsts into new life, Canada’s political leaders fell intornthe trap of asking the wrong question, namely “What does Quebecrnwant?” The queshon was unanswerable because Quebec’srnpolitical leaders wanted—and still want—something the federalrngovernment had just taken away from Quebec and from allrnthe provinces.rnWhat Quebec’s leaders wanted was the return of their constitutionallyrnbestowed exclusive powers over property and civilrnrights. Prime Minister Lester Pearson was unable to give themrnthat because he had just used the federal spending power to imposernon all provinces a British-style national health scheme andrnwas following it up with a variety of federally ordained socialrnprograms in outright defiance of the Constitution. He assumedrnKenneth McDonald, who writes from Toronto, is the author ofrnKeeping Canada Together.rnthat Quebecers’ chief concern was the threat to the French languagernin the surrounding English communities and that herncould fix it by setting up a Royal Commission on Bilingualismrnand Biculturalism. But then he made another mistake: thernCommission was mandated “To recommend what steps shouldrnbe taken to develop the Canadian Confederation on the basisrnof an equal partnership between the two founding races.” Atrnonce this legitimized the myth that has dogged the Quebec issuernever since. “Two founding races” was a misreading of LordrnDurham’s celebrated phrase from his report of 1839 when hern”found two nations warring in the bosom of a single state.” Hernwas referring not to Canada but to Quebec.rnSuch a gift to the sovereigntists came easily from the hand ofrna Nobel Peace Prize winner, but Pearson’s next step on the roadrnto appeasement was fateful: he recruited Quebec’s “ThreernWise Men” to his cause: Jean Marchand, Gerard Pelletier, andrnPierre Trudeau. That they were also men of the left, bent onrnchanging the country to its foundations, was ignored by EnglishrnCanadians who hailed Trudeau as the man to “put Quebec inrnits place.” Too late they found that his solution was to open uprnthe whole of Canada to French Canadians by imposing nationwidernbilingualism, and changing Canada’s system of governmentrnto the Quebec model.rnBefore long, resurgent nationalism was accompanied by violence.rnAbout 100 bombings in and around Montreal, some ofrnthem fatal, culminated in “the October Crisis” of 1970, whenrnan amateurish organization called le Front de Liberation durnQuebec (FLQ) took the British Trade Commissioner and arnQuebec politician hostage. Pierre Trudeau, who had replacedrnPearson as prime minister, declared the War Measures Act,rnmoved the army in, and suspended civil liberties. More thanrnAPRIL 1998/17rnrnrn