BY JOHN-JEAN OFRIAS, SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE JUNE 22, 2014
John-Jean Ofrias is a professor of social science at Suffolk Community College in Long Island, N.Y. He has a second home in Sutton.
In this 21st century, the country of my birth, the United States of America Incorporated, has become greener — in a way that is perverse.
The richest 400 Americans now have more wealth than the least wealthy 150 million Americans. Yes, the U.$. of A has an economic system in which 400 people have accumulated more wealth than half the population of the country combined. The wealthy elite wrap themselves in an American flag stained green from their money. In hallowed halls of government, gold crucifixes and gold dollar signs are worn at the same time.
North of the 49th parallel, in Quebec especially, there is an awareness of the need to separate religion and government and money. This is what is at the heart of the ongoing Quiet Revolution, not any meanness of spirit.
Canada outside of Quebec looks to me like a brand of USA Light. The centres of population in English-speaking Canada are already thoroughly McDonaldized, Walmartized, Starbuckized and, above all, Americanized. English-speaking Canada is becoming more Americanized, with each passing day.
What protects Quebec from being taken over by the states to the south of it? It is not any Quebec military. And it’s not the Queen on the $20 bill. It is the prevailing value system in Quebec, and the French language.
For me, the watchword in Quebec should be: Parlez Bleu. Speak French, Monsieur Quebecer, or resign yourself to becoming an American, in the worse sense of what it means to be American. Parlez Bleu, or watch American money do all the talking in Quebec.
Quebec has what it takes to be a nation, one that separates religion and government and money, in ways that its neighbours do not, with values associated more with women than men, with human values rather than materialistic values.
The voice of difference in Quebec is French, but can be heard by anyone with open ears and an open mind. I am an amériquébécois, an anglophone man who respects the bleu Fleurdelysé flag even though he struggles with the French language; and I wish to add my voice to those who believe we can, and must, create better forms of government in the 21st century.
The last election in Quebec was not about separation, but the next one should be. Until then, it needs to be clearly spelled out (in French and English) what sovereignty would mean. Meanwhile: Parlez Bleu, please.