The most offensive nationalism that I see here in Toronto is the "Loonie
nationalism" which turns primarily on economic self-interest. The fall of
the dollar and the markets has prompted a local right-wing populist
talk-radio personality, Bill Carrol, to vent his wrath daily on what he
considers the short-sightedness and empire building of Bouchard and
Parizeau. He may or may not be correct on the latter, but I'd bet you one
polar doubloon that if the economy wasn't quite so fragile, the rallies,
etc. in anglo-Canada would be much more subdued.
Meanwhile, Mel Watkins argues in a recent THIS magazine that Quebec may
have found the economic conditions necessary to make a break in the new
globalizing economy. Because economic growth is no longer predicated on
the strength of domestic markets, a lean and mean small kid on the block
like Quebec could peddle its wares wherever it so wished. (I don't think
he meant to say Que would be better off, just that the economic conditions
to make a break might finally be there). If Que could get out of
confederation with 20% or less of the national debt, the economic
arguments for separation would be even more compelling.
In the context of his discussion, Bill Carrol raised one issue that I have
not yet heard in public discourse. He spoke of a declining standard of
living in Canada, not in terms of "what if" but "how much?" With all the
talk of cuts, etc. our downwardly mobile nation has not yet faced up to
where all these cuts lead. Food lines, Moscow style? Ironically, "cuts"
are still cast in a positive light. They are what the politicians are
"doing" (as opposed to "not doing"). 'Jobshedding' in the name of future
economic health is like amputation; the body may live on, but it will
NEVER be the same.
I'm sorry to see Quebec vote to separate, if that comes to pass. I want
Que to stay for historical, social and cultural reasons. At the same
time, this whole 'neverendum' debate is drawing our energy and attention
away from far graver (albeit not unrelated) issues. The focus has got to
be on social justice, on some vestige of economic sovereignty (however our
nation(s) come(s) to be defined) and on international efforts to control
the virus of the new money "markets."
English profs: Were Canada a cat, you could lecture on 'le chat qu'expire'.
Un oeuf is enough! . . .
Michael Hoechsmann, OISE