Canadian Idependance Essay

Submitted By heckerscholin
Words: 4552
Pages: 19

Since the beginning of the colonial era in Canada and the initial clashes between French and English speaking Canadians, nationalist sentiment has fostered within the Quebecker mindset. It is not surprising, either, that French-Canadians have sought to maintain their distinct culture and also evade assimilation. Within this potentially volatile political atmosphere, the Quebec sovereignty movement has come close twice to realizing their dream of a Quebec independent from the rest of Canada. The omnipresence of sovereignty issues within provincial politics in Quebec has consequently strengthened the movement and has done no less than increase its size, organization, determination and popularity, much alike any other minority movement existing in a similar or worse political environment. More to the point, a strong Quebecker nationalist movement is inevitable given the historical tension between English and French Canadians; the conflicting political agendas between the federal and provincial governments; the lack of success the federal government has with regards to the appeasement of French Canadians and the current geo-political position the province finds itself in. Certain questions must be asked then, such as why did the federal government fail to integrate Quebec into the Canadian system but more importantly, why has the sovereignty movement failed as well?

To begin, an appropriate analysis and evaluation of the historical conditions which permitted nationalism to foster in Quebec is necessary in order to fully appreciate the present status of the nationalist movement. From the time when the colonists were establishing their trade routes and outposts in eastern Canada, conflict between French and English settlers was common. In part due to the traditional rivalry between France and England, but now also due to the pursuit of maintaining custody and dominance over the lands discovered within the preceding centuries. Although this early divergence between linguistic communities was primitive, such animosity would only grow over the years, especially with English dominance over the country and suppression of French-Canadian issues due to the fact that “Britain’s policy towards its new subjects, the colonists of New France, oscillated between assimilation and accommodation” and also that “English law was imposed, English declared the official language and the traditional seigniorial system of land tenure was abolished” (Keating, 77). Moreover, concerning government issues and policy-making, the French population of early Canada was more often than not discounted and ignored. This lead to the rise of the Patriotes movement. The group was primarily made up of French-Canadians dissatisfied with their oppressive British government and tired of being constantly overlooked and discredited. At the time, the Roman Catholic Church widely swayed French Catholics against taking part in commercial business and, consequently, French-speaking canadiens were mainly agrarian in lifestyle: “[…] the Church in Quebec became increasingly conservative, fostering a vision of French-Canadian identity rooted in traditional values and opposed to industrialization, urbanization and modernity” (Keating, 78). This led to Anglophones enjoying predominant representation in the commercial sector, as an expanding Anglophone bourgeoisie based in Montreal assumed control of industry and commerce, which in turn naturally produced a cultural division of labor, according to Keating. Displeased with the lack of progress towards social and economic reform and better representation, a French-Canadian named Louis-Joseph Papineau continued to argue for change. His requests to the British government were all rejected by Lord Russell in a crushing defeat to Papineau’s non-violent protest. The Patriotes movement finally sprang into action, which lead to the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837. Despite initial success at pushing back the British army stationed in Lower