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Nationalism In Quebec And Canadian Politics

2341 words - 9 pages

During the twentieth century, Canada as a nation witnessed and endured several historical events that have had a deep and profound influence on Canadian politics. The most influential and constant force in twentieth century Canadian politics has been the increasing power and command of Quebec nationalism and the influence it has had on Canadian politics today. Quebec nationalism has shaped the structure and dynamics of Canadian federalism from a centralized to a decentralized form of federal government (Beland and Lecours 2010, 423). The decentralization of several sectors within the Canadian government has been a direct effect of Quebec nationalism. Decentralization has led to more autonomy among the provincial governments, especially in the province of Quebec. This paper will argue that Quebec nationalism has affected Canadian politics through decentralization. Most importantly, the decentralization of Canadian politics can be determined constitutionally, institutionally, and politically.
In order to fully understand the impact that Quebec nationalism has had on Canadian politics, it is important to first understand the roots of Quebec nationalism. Quebec was founded in 1608, originally called New France, by the French (McRoberts 1991, 412). However in 1759 New France came under power of the British (McRoberts 1991, 412). British rule did not lead to assimilation therefore the Francophone language and culture was preserved despite the initial intention of British authorities that it should. (McRoberts 1991, 413). In 1837, Quebec was merged with the predominately English-speaking colony of Britain, Upper Canada (McRoberts 1991, 413). Together Quebec and the English-speaking colony created Lower and Upper Canada, respectively (McRoberts 1991, 413). Assimilation did not occur due to resistance from the Francophone population of Lower Canada (McRoberts 1991, 413). Finally in 1867, the United Canadas joined two other British Colonies, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to form the Dominion of Canada (McRoberts 1991, 413). French-Canadians continued to fight against assimilation and received autonomous privileges with exclusive jurisdiction over matters regarding its cultural distinctiveness***. Thus, the Francophone language and culture has always been at the forefront of Quebec priorities. Since Confederation, Quebec nationalist have felt that the Francophone language and culture has been at risk of assimilation by the rest of Canada. As a result, Quebec nationalism is fundamentally rooted in the preservation of the Francophone language and culture (Guiberneau 2006, 52). Political leaders in Quebec continuously urge for the recognition that Canada is composed of two nations or cultures (McRoberts 1991, 413). Prior to confederation Quebec enjoyed numerous autonomous privileges. Unfortunately, post-confederation Quebec did not enjoy as many autonomous privileges because Canada was created as a relatively centralized federation (Beland and Lecours...

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