The Ed and Ethan show is a popular podcast based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan — one of the few libertarian shows coming out of Canada. This weekend, from the prairies, the hosts weighed in on the many-decades-long and divisive independence movement in Francophone Quebec.
As both a Quebec native and liberty-conscious commentator, Yaël Ossowski was the expert they called on, as they digested his latest column, “The Parti Québécois Electoral Ploy of ‘Secularism’ Will Weaken Quebec.”
Ossowski’s segment starts at 26:00 (as set in the embedded video), and he recounts how the sovereignty movement dates back to the World War II era, when the British had men from Canada conscripted to fight. Many in Quebec saw this as a war that had nothing to do with them, and they resented the “Englishman’s war” imposition.
This push gained momentum in the 1960s and eventually led to failed referendums in 1980 and 1995 — the second and more recent one coming within 1 percent of achieving a majority. Unfortunately, as Ossowski notes, this movement has gone off the rails. The Parti Québécios have descended into a campaign for a new provincial “Charter of Quebec Values” to ban religious symbols in government positions, particularly Muslim clothing, despite such people being a sliver of the population.
Meanwhile, Quebec remains the butt of jokes in Canada, for its decrepit, indebted, and over-governed economy — one of the least free in North America. Further, Quebec’s heavy reliance on equalization payments and various transfers from other provinces, to the tune of CAN$2,200 per resident, makes a mockery of its capacity to stand on its own two feet.
However, the English-French divide remains and is most pronounced with Quebec’s draconian language controls, which prohibit retail outlets from providing service without French. As Ossowski explains, that has been the “driving force of the Parti Québécois and the separatist movement for last few years.”
So while Ossowski has long advocated for an independent Quebec, he is not shy about expressing his concern for how this movement is manifesting itself in political gamesmanship. He has written that Quebecers can learn a lot from the Catalan independence movement, which he says leads with a celebration of the culture and the merits associated with independence and local governance, rather than the politics and nativism that Quebec appears to be stuck in.