While I’m not going to sit here and write a tribute to Parizeau, don’t come here expecting me to dance on his grave. Not my style.
I’m only covering this occasion because love him or hate him, Parizeau embodied an aspect of the separatist movement that will follow him to the grave.
The passion and vigor Parizeau had for his movement is rooted in a bygone era whose circumstances are not transferable to this day and age.
I’ve said it before in the past – in its initial run, the separatist movement did have some merit. French Canadians weren’t getting as much of a fair shake as they should have gotten, and someone did in fact need to stand up for their collective rights.
We know who those players were.
The irony of the situation is that their initial goal with the sovereignist movement was to establish greater respect for the French-speaking members of the population and to empower them with the same benefits and opportunities all other Canadians enjoyed.
Mission accomplished (without accomplishing THE mission).
Quebec never achieved statehood, but today, the average Francophone can accomplish anything he or she sets out to do.
There are no educational barriers. The proof is in the number of Pequistes who’ve studied at McGill and Concordia (or for that matter, taught at one of the two schools).
There are no economic barriers. Poverty will never be 100% eradicated. However, Quebec’s people today enjoy just as high a standard of living as their compatriots in the ROC (they’re also the most highly-taxed, but we’ll touch on that some other time).
And there are no cultural barriers, save for the make-belief ones you find in the separatist neverland the Pequistes frolic in day after day. Quebec’s Francophone arts scene is in pretty good health considering its microtic base.
When Parizeau grew up in the 30s and 40s, the age of the Great Darkness, saying he didn’t have the same opportunities and amenities today’s youth have makes for a grand understatement. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t see such an era replicating itself in this day and age.
Today, the separatist movement has to draft its players from a youth base that is obsessed with American culture and is perma-plugged into the Facebook matrix.
When not screwing around on trivialities, this youth is focused on building their careers and buying property earlier in life than Parizeau’s era ever was.
Naturally, the members of the separatist community are grieving today, not just because they lost the patriarch of their movement, but also because they’re well aware that his passing symbolizes the end of something even greater.
I’d sign-off saying thank you to Parizeau for what he did help Francophones with, but when I look at my Francophone mother and her four siblings and what they (working-class members of the Duplessis era) all accomplished without the help of government, I’d say it’s testament that the Quebecois never needed a separatist movement to help them.
They only had to believe in themselves and repeat a popular mantra: “Si on veut, on peut.”