The March 10, 2001 Globe and Mail spent a fair bit of time giving credence to various comments coming out of Quebec about Ontario and culture, particularly la belle province's Culture Minister of Quebec's comments that Ontario doesn't have one. The whole of the first section was given over to this discussion and before I get into it let me ask one thing, "Why does Quebec need a Culture Minister?"
There's only so of this much stupid discussion I can take in a normal lifetime so the overflow spilled out and what follows was my quickly dashed off letter to the Globe which far and exceeded the maximum number of words they accept for letters to the Editor so it was no big surprise when it wasn't printed. But the way I look at it, it was as much a letter to the paper's staff as the country at large. It reads as follows:
What rubbish! First off:
Quebec Nationalism: Quebec was never a nation, it was a French colony, then an English colony before being an integral part of the formation of Canada. The only nation the people of Quebec have ever had is Canada. The media should stop dignifying separatists by acknowledging their fantasies. If the first step to making something tangible is to see it as real then the media is doing a lot to help the separatist.
Quebec's destiny: It doesn't take a history professor to know that if England hadn't taken over Quebec the French would have eventually lost it to the Americans. Anyone who doesn't believe me needs to read more about American history, particularly their Presidents, starting with Monroe and definitely including Teddy Roosevelt. If they weren't fond of the British flag in North America they certainly wouldn't have tolerated the French flag either. Joining Canada was the only thing that saved the French culture in North America, you don't believe me, check out Louisiana.
Ontario Culture: Will all you people please shut up about this. Diane Lemieux's comments came from typical separatist ignorance and every word (yes, even my own) simply adds to her credibility. This is news? A separatist thinks Quebec is better than the rest of us, give me a break! As someone who has actually lived in four regions of Canada (and spent too much time in the United States) all I have to say to anyone who even wonders if there is an Ontario culture should move around more! Every damn part of this Canada has a culture that is unique, end of story.
NEWS FLASH: The youth think bigger! They don't care if it's a Canadian music group or not which is why American's are loving the Barenaked Ladies and Canadians are listening to them too! The only reason Quebec artists do better in Quebec than Ontario artists do in Ontario is because they're the only ones speaking that language. Even the American movies shown in Quebec are dubbed in France because the Quebec French dialect is hard to understand outside of Quebec. If you want the same level of success by local artists here, create a new language!
Canadian Nationalism: Here's another example of the "you should get out of your region more often" solution. Ask any Americans (a people who know practically nothing about us) to describe Canadians and no matter where you are in the states you'll get nearly the same description. Do they see a difference between people from Quebec and Ontario in Florida? No. They can pick someone from Toronto out of a group of Americans from Seattle with no problem but couldn't tell the difference between someone from western New Brunswick, North Ontario or Quebec City if they interviewed them for an hour. We might not understand what our culture is but the rest of the world sees it.
Quebec Culture: Take the language out of it and remove the flags and you'll be hard pressed to find any difference between a small town in Quebec and a small town in New York state. That's right, I said New York State! Even including Montreal and New York City (which are both terribly run big cities who believe their crap doesn't smell as bad as the other cities in their country) and you'll find more similarities than differences in attitude, insecurities, civility and unsubstantiated civic pride.
Final thoughts: Ultimately we are a PART of a North American culture. So much of American entertainment is either done up here or made by people from here that very soon it won't matter anymore, except to the insecure Canadian Nationalists who did what. Culture isn't something you buy or support, the Soviets tried desperately to control their cultures with state approved and state sanctioned models and their citizens, even facing jail continued to make their own. Culture is not box office receipts or music sales, it's wallpaper in the lives of the citizens and only going other places for a long while before returning home will prove to you we're surrounded by it.
We're 30 years past these debates, deal with it.