Quebec has been a hot topic lately. First it was the student protests, then the lead up to the provincial election. Now, the results of a Parti Québécois victory ended in a tragic election-night shooting. It’s unfortunate that most news about Quebec has been negative recently, including the commentary surrounding the shooting. Some have drawn political implications from the event, blaming newly elected Premier Pauline Marois and the PQ for “stoking linguistic anger” with proposed language laws, or pointing the finger at anglophone media for raising anti-PQ hatred.
It’s disturbing to think how these conclusions can be reached so quickly when all that’s known about the shooting is that a possibly mentally ill man wearing a bathrobe and a mask fired several shots at the venue of the PQ victory party and then set fire to the building. The death of Denis Blanchette, a lighting technician working the event, should demand a certain level of respect for the tragic loss of life rather than spark wild journalistic assumptions about the motives for the shooting. It’s not even confirmed whether Marois was the intended target or if the shooting was random. Even though the suspect was yelling, “The English are waking up!” as he was apprehended by police, the lack of facts surrounding the incident doesn’t warrant speculations about perceived French/English tensions, nor does it seem necessary or profitable to do so. This type of rhetoric is exactly what gives root to toxic ideas and causes deeper divisions within Canada.
Western Canada seems to have a tendency to ignore all things having to do with Quebec — we are all tired of hearing the same old news. This shows that we should try to do what we can to foster greater unity among all Canadians, rather than focusing on our obvious differences. If Canadians are so proud of multiculturalism, doesn’t it seem a bit backwards to be beating the dead horse of Quebec sovereignty, language laws and identity politics?
It’s better for everyone if we drop the French/English and Quebec/Canada divides. Real political issues could be addressed rather than wasting resources on petty federal-provincial power struggles — Quebec youth just might maintain some sort of faith in the political system as a result. Either way, it’s extremely unlikely that another referendum will come up any time soon with support for secession at less than 30 per cent. So maybe it is safe to just keep on ignoring Quebec for the next four years or so. A minority PQ government won’t change much anyway.