From the time Jean Lesage’s Liberals took over from the Union Nationale until the separatists formed a government sixteen years later, a feast of bombs in mailboxes and office buildings was washed down with copious amounts of rioting, kidnapping, and murder. To call this the Quiet Revolution, you had to be deaf.

Then, René Lévesque and his Parti Québécois, leveraging their political option, grabbed hold of the legislator’s pen and staged a quiet coup against English—in the courts, the schools, and the workplace. All this, even before the first referendum on separation, which they lost. Fifteen years later, Premier Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard called another and lost, barely.

Most, in and outside of Quebec, have made their peace with the situation. Many have convinced themselves that this was the price of national unity and that a marginalized anglophone community was a necessary consequence of social justice, part of a permanent affirmative action program to compensate for La Grande Noirceur, and to make sure that the benighted era remains history.

Today, the real separatists, as rare as a phone booth, could caucus there. Bill 96 is supported by federal politicians and Bill 21 is unopposed by them. And there isn’t even a whiff of separation in the air. Only in Canada, you say?

Me.Howard Greenfield


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