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For an American, there is an ironic clue to the history of our neighbor to the north; she became a nation because her people did not wish to be swallowed up by the United States Quant aux Canadiens français, ils ne voulaient pas seulement éviter être absorbés par les États-Unis; ils ne voulaient pas davantage être absorbés parleurs compatriotes “anglais”
December 1965 | Volume 17, Issue 1
The truth is that the leaders of modern French Canada, despite their classical heritage, are now committed to progress. At the beginning of the Silent Revolution in 1960, there was much emphasis on the injustices that French Canada had suffered from the English-speaking majority. But it is significant that even Dr. Marcel Chaput, the original separatist, made a point of stating that no minority had ever been better treated than his own. No, this Quebec revolution is not really against les Anglais ; it is against Quebec’s own heritage. The French Canadians have understood that no classically religious people can survive in a world dedicated to the proposition that the chief good of man is the efficient production, distribution, and consumption of material goods, a world determined to give technologists the freedom to improve upon the handiwork of God, including perhaps man himself.
Progress, on the American plan, is thus something which English and French Canada can now share as a common aim, and the best hope for the continuation of Confederation rests on this. English Canada, at the time of writing, seems nearly ready to accept French Canada’s demands for the reform of the Canadian constitution so that Canada may fully become the home of two linguistic cultures, held together by a common commitment to modern industrial democracy. As a symbol of English-Canadian readiness, Prime Minister Pearson proposed, in 1964, the new Maple Leaf flag in place of the old Red Ensign with the Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner. After a long and bitter debate in Parliament the new flag went through, and in February, 1965, it became the official flag of Canada by royal proclamation. English Canada went a long way toward conciliation on that day.
If Canada succeeds in weathering the current crisis, the remaining question will be that of her relationship to the United States, the country that has influenced her most profoundly from the very beginning of her history. Whether the answer, ultimately, will be union with America, or a more assertive and competitive Canadian nationalism, the new Canada will not be one that can be taken for granted, as the old-fashioned, traditional, easy-going Canada was.