Tuesday, March 27, 2007

the prodigal province

I am using the word "prodigal" in the positive sense here to describe someone who is extravagantly generous.

I was driving to school this morning and thinking about all the buzz regarding yesterday's landmark election in Quebec in which a minority Liberal government was elected. One point that my favourite Canadian political commentator, L. Ian MacDonald, made was that it was a bit concerning that over 60% of the votes went to support people that have some degree of Quebec sovereignty or autonomy in their mandate. He concluded that this will probably result in Quebec asking for more concessions from the rest of the country and getting them since the Liberals (federalists) do not hold the majority of power.

Now please understand that I consider myself a Quebecker and have grown to love the people of this province and do not write this lightly or out of any ill-feelings, but out of a desire that we learn and grow together in this great country. It has been my experience that one of the ongoing attitudes of this province seems to be that it is owed something by the rest of Canada. No matter what inequities there have been or are (and face it, we all live with a certain amount of inequity in life), the propagation of this mindset, especially at a governmental level, smacks of a certain level of immaturity, in my opinion. Look at a typical 3-year-old child and you will hear him constantly asking for something, always thinking about himself and his needs, and whining or even threatening radical action if he doesn't get his way; he will seldom think to consider the needs or desires of the rest of the family. In contrast, a mature person who has developed some of his potential will seek ways to offer his skills and abilities and resources to enrich the whole family, provide for them where he is able, and know that as they all work together, every one's needs will be met through mutual support.
In my limited observation, we in Quebec have not reached that point of maturity - we say that we have great wealth in certain resources and a cultural richness, but we have sought to hoard and protect these things instead of sharing them. We feel threatened and have taken a defensive stance when in fact we have great potential to be a strong forerunner in many ways. I believe that we must learn to look beyond our own needs and begin to be confident in our unique identity and learn to lead in our areas of strength instead of asking for special treatment and building protective walls and passing legislations to keep ourselves safe from outside influence.

We are a large, beautiful, resourceful and history-rich province filled with passionate, creative, and skilled people. Let us be generous of spirit (even extravagantly so), open-hearted in our dealings with each other, and conduct ourselves in a way that makes the rest of the country proud to have Quebec as a brother.

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” – Abraham Lincoln

“There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada with its virile, aspiring, cultured, and generous-hearted people.” - Sir Winston Churchill

This photo was taken October 9, 2006 near St-Lazare.

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