Some progressives of the 1990s will have to arrive in 2020: today, the simple fact of openly recalling that Quebec is a French-speaking nation and not a bilingual province can earn you an accusation of racism (systemic or not, it depends on the interlocutor).
The criteria of political respectability have changed. The nationalist consensus inherited from the Quiet Revolution has completely crumbled. Nationalism is now in intellectual opposition in Quebec. Law 101 now only has a power of inertia. It is contested on a daily basis, as cultural practices in Montreal and Laval no longer recognize its legitimacy, nor that of the principle on which it is founded. It goes without saying that the federal regime is continuing its undermining work to mentally Canadianize Quebecers and de-substantiate their collective identity.
The ordinary social-democratic independentist of 30 years ago, if he did not bend his knees in the meantime, is today considered a xenophobic of the worst kind to the official press and his preaching commentators. He was “right-handed” or “conservative”. Moreover, anyone who pays attention to ordinary comments made on social networks finds that ideological intolerance towards French-speaking Quebecers is fashionable – there is nothing marginal about them, even if one would like to believe the contrary. The little Rhodesians of the year 2020 roam happily on Facebook, Twitter and Tik Tok. That they take their hole, that they lie down, that they crush: one will congratulate them then for their tolerance, for their collective maturity. We will tell them that finally, they are no longer “afraid of the Other”. Because it is well known: recalling the precariousness of the French fact in North America is to fall into xenophobia. French-speaking Quebecers are treated as a residual population called upon to deconstruct itself under the pressure of Canadian multiculturalism, which would have the virtue of civilizing them and dissolving them as a people, all at the same time. Such is the genius of diverse revelation: it treats peoples like the dead wood of humanity. And from his point of view, the people of Quebec will finally find redemption by freeing themselves from the burden of their own existence. Because the people of Quebec would not represent diversity in America: French-speaking Quebecers would represent the obstacle to diversity in Quebec.
Ordinary Social Democrats have been kicked out of the left by its sectarian tendency, hegemonic in academia, and now officially hostile to freedom of expression. Some, in the old left, have decided to submit to this sectarian tendency, to keep the beautiful label and keep their worldly advantage. Others now feel ideologically orphaned, as we used to say some time ago. Deep down, they still think they are on the left, but find that the left no longer wants them. I am convinced of one thing: progressives and conservatives, people on the left and people on the right, should not dwell too much on these labels that come from the world of yesterday. If they have in common a deep attachment to their people, if they want it to assert itself, if they believe in its fundamental right to define the parameters of its collective existence, they should now explore all that they have in common. They succeeded in the fight for secularism, they must achieve it in the fight for French, they must achieve it by giving full life to the national question.
It is no longer a question of knowing whether or not we have the possibility of evolving as a people in Canada, if it will recognize us, if it will allow us to survive and not to assimilate too quickly. The question now is whether we have the right to recall that we are a people without being accused of ethnic supremacism. It is a question of knowing if the common world is only the mask of the supposed tyranny of the majority. It is a question of knowing if we can define our reality without submitting to the conceptual imaginary directly coming out of the radical American campuses, and to know if we can resist this mental colonization. The national question now poses that of the very existence of the Quebec people. The identity question and the democratic question are now inseparable.
Finally, it is a question of knowing whether we are ready to show collective lucidity, to better take up the great fight for our national affirmation, which some today associate with the autonomist project, but which, in essence, should fuel the rebirth of the independence struggle. I am convinced that in the young generation there are many nationalists at heart, who nevertheless live in fear of being badly labeled by the ideological police officers of the diversitarian regime, especially if they work in the midst of young professionals, who ‘be it law, media, communications or business. They are right to be afraid: they risk professional and civic discredit if they show themselves off. We can hope that they will be able to challenge this new moral order, and fully assume their convictions. If they succeed and find a political vehicle to express them, or an association in civil society to rediscover themselves and rediscover activism in the service of a cause that is beyond us all, they could help put history in motion.