"They should find their own island and move there so that we can keep that land which rightly belongs to us."
If you haven’t heard about the student protests in Montreal than you probably live in English speaking Canada. Quebec has a great history of intense and violent protest that English speaking Canada tends to shrug its shoulders at and say, “Meh, the French are just acting up again,” even as record numbers of protesters are being arrested and Draconian laws are being put in place to keep the frustrated population subdued. Meanwhile, people in Quebec are using the current protests to continue the ongoing debate over whether Quebec should just separate from Canada and govern itself. But what does English speaking Canada think of Quebec separatism? We went through the streets of Toronto and asked the Anglos: Do you think Quebec should separate from Canada?
Scott, mortgage broker: No, I don’t.
I’d miss them.
Have you ever been to Quebec?
Yes I have.
Did you like it?
Very much so. It’s quite unique. It certainly has a European feel, a unique identity, but despite the uniqueness it’s still Canadian.
Could Quebec survive if it were to separate?
Not well. Economically speaking I don’t think so. That’s just off the top of my head, I haven’t done much in the way of research.
If they did separate, what would be their main export?
There are natural resources in Quebec, I don’t know what the main one is. Hockey players? Goalies. They always have that going for them. I love French goalies.
Irem, urban planner: No, I don’t think so.
I think it’s part of our history, the Quebec history, and I believe that culturally Canada contains the Quebecness as well. A lot of our identity is associated with what Quebec does so if we separated I think it would take some of our Canadianness away. But then, like, I don’t know, maybe it would be good for them.
Do you know anything about the current protests?
No, I don’t. There’s a protest?
Yeah, there’s been at least 2500 people arrested in the past few weeks.
Oh, I did not know. I feel stupid.
Don’t feel stupid.
Jeff, he sits here: No.
I think because they’re still part of this island mass they should be part of Canada.
Do you think they’d be able to survive if they separated?
No, because they don’t have a big enough military force. The military force that is defending them is us and if they wanted to be part of their own area they’d have to leave the Canada area.
What’s your favourite thing about Quebec?
There’s not much. I just don’t think they should have the right to say they wanna be part of their own area.
If Quebec were to separate, how do you think they’d survive economically?
Far as I know they have no mines so they can’t get iron, gold or anything and they’ve depleted most of their trees in that area so lumber is out of the question. They have almost no money making way other than the government.
Note: Jeff later caught up to me later to say that he thinks that if Quebec is to separate they should find their own island and move there so that we can keep that land which rightly belongs to us.
Nick, film maker: I don’t really like nationalism. But no.
My emotional standpoint about it is that Quebec is Canada. They’re our brothers and sisters and we need to keep that as part of Canada’s identity.
Have you ever been to Quebec?
Yes, I lived in Quebec City for three months taking a French course. It was really enlightening for me because people talk about Quebec with a certain stigma as if they’re all mean and they don’t like us but I found it accepting. Never once was there this sort of pretentious Frenchman attitude people warned me about. I did get a lot of animosity about Toronto. They said there’s no trees.
Do you think they’d survive if they separated?
I think they’d be better off than Greece.
Heather, gender studies student: No, we need them!
We need their awesome political spirit in this country.
You’ve been following the protests?
What do you think about what’s happening?
I think that Ontario can tend to have political apathy, there’s not a lot of get up and go. There are people banging pots and pans in the suburbs of Montreal, the sound of which is resonating through the city! That’s living. That’s fucking living.
Have you been to Quebec?
How did you like it?
I was in Montreal when I was little and I went to Montreal not too long ago and basically holed up in a really shitty motel and did a bunch of drugs for three days so I don’t know if I can really comment on Quebec more generally than that.
If they were to separate, what do you think would be their main export?
I don’t know. I don’t want to say maple syrup.
Stephanie, works in a vintage clothes shop: I’m not really into that kind of stuff so my opinion is just, like, sure.
See, I don’t really know. I just said sure because I don’t really care.
Have you ever been to Quebec?
Yeah, when I was younger. It was good, I had fun.
Do you know anything about the protests right now?
No, I have no idea. Sorry.
Jennifer, actress: Maybe they should separate.
I think it would be dangerous for them to do so but based on their history and their traditionalism and their deep passion to do so, maybe they should to teach themselves a lesson.
Have you been following the protests?
No. There are protests?
Yeah, they started out as student protests but now they’ve grown and now the whole province is getting involved.
Oh, I heard something about that. There’s been some police brutality hasn’t there?
Yeah, I don’t think they should separate.
Wait, but you already said they should separate.
I know, but now that I think about it, they shouldn’t. They’d be screwed and I think that the federal government should infringe on their sovereignty and take matters into their own hands because it’s going way too far.
Okay, thanks for talking to us.
No problem. I hope all of Quebec doesn’t hate me because of this.
We’re sure they won’t.