As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada and of the Quebec Liberal Party, this is the ideal moment to reaffirm our pride in being part of the Canadian federation. This steadfast bond is rooted first and foremost in history, as Quebec has participated in Canada while affirming its own identity since the 1867 Confederation.
A nation that’s proud of its distinct character and rich in its pluralism
Quebecers feel a true and strong allegiance to the Québécois nation. For the majority of Quebecers, this allegiance is interwoven with a Canadian sense of belonging. This pride in being a part of Canada has never stopped Quebec Liberal Party leaders from asserting and defending our society’s distinct character. Quebec differs from other regions of Canada due to its language, as it is primarily francophone, and due to its culture, institutions and social model. Its greatness lies in its nature as distinct, inclusive and pluralist society with a historic, dynamic English-speaking community, eleven Indigenous nations located throughout the province, and immigrant communities with rich cultural diversity.
In this regard, the Quebec Liberal Party wants to pay homage to its citizens from around the world who chose Quebec as a home. They have contributed to our collective wealth by integrating themselves and participating in Quebec society, and they continue to do this every day.
We are proud of who we are, and the future of our collective identity is fully compatible with openness to other cultures and freedom of expression for all. As such, our position differs from that of some of our political adversaries who are always tempted to stir up division by using immigration issues for their own political ends, even in the current context of demographic imbalance and labour shortage.
In contrast, the responsible nature of our choices rests on the balance we want to create: on one hand, between the continuity of a collective identity closely linked to Quebec’s history and its distinct, francophone character, and on the other hand, openness to mutual and collective enrichment through recognizing diversity and validating intercultural dialogue and rapprochement.
This willingness to include diversity in Quebec is also what Quebecers expect from Canada.
The necessary recognition of our national reality
Over its history, the Quebec Liberal Party’s position has always been to keep Quebec within Canada. This federalist “DNA” leads us to believe that the Canadian political and administrative regime is the most suitable one for guaranteeing the affirmation of the diverse cultures and peoples existing within the same country.
Nevertheless, Canada still has not welcomed, understood or formally accepted the Québécois nation. The attempts to achieve this have not had the desired results; remember the Meech Lake Accord of 1987 and the Charlottetown Accord of 1992, for example. Today, Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government wants to re-establish cooperative and constructive dialogue with its partners in the federation so that we can better understand each other in order to better acknowledge each other. This was recently expressed in the Policy on Québec Affirmation and Canadian Relations: Quebecers, Our Way of Being Canadian. This policy, which is more about dialogue and rapprochement than the Constitution, marks a change from previous principles. It recognizes that constitutional modifications will only be possible when Quebecers and other Canadians are more connected.
Now confident and assured, the Québécois nation can meet with other Canadians to create stronger bonds of solidarity. We have our own identity, one whose international standing is ensured by 26 diplomatic offices around the world. Our unique identity is also dedicated to playing a major role in Canada’s development. In keeping with our reality as a nation, we insist that our provincial jurisdiction be respected in order to maintain the economic prosperity and cultural distinctiveness of Quebec. The Quebec Liberal Party is fighting harder than ever for effective federalism that stems directly from the founding compromise of 1867.
We don’t have to choose between being Quebecers and being Canadians. We are both. We are Quebecers, and this is our way of being Canadian.