The Yes Book

Excerpts from Le livre qui fait dire oui by Sol Zanetti, translated in English by Paul Chailloux

ECONOMY

Québec’s economy is far from mediocre (and dependent on Canada) as some erroneously like to say:

  • Our mining sector is ranked among the top ten in the world.
  • We have vast amounts of fresh water.
  • Our hydroelectricity places us in an enviable position, attracting energy intensive industries while favouring electricity exports when prices are high.
  • The navigable Saint Lawrence is a strategic resource providing maritime access to the heart of North America.

Canada does not have Québec’s economic interests in mind but rather those of the Canadian economy.

By remaining in the Canadian regime, we give up the lion’s share of our economic powers to another nation whose objectives are not our own.

Independent, we could put our taxes to better use. Currently, our taxes sent to Ottawa contribute to:

  • Intensive military spending—Ottawa obliges us to pay $113 billion for the army, while we cut health and education.
  • Subsidizing the oil industry.
  • Paying for the Senate, the Governor General and the monarchy.
  • Paying for Canada’s nuclear program since Québec ceased activity at the only nuclear center in Gentilly.
  • Paying for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, when it’s British Columbia and the Maritimes who benefit, not Québec.
  • Paying for the doubling of government employees, such as two ministers of finance, two ministers of health, two ministers of natural resources, etc.

An allegory of how equalization payments really work:

You have $50 and are going to the music store to buy some music. While on your way, some salesperson in the street proposes $55 worth of music for the $50 that you have. You wonder if this is too good to be true. He shows you the contract. The fine print says that you must also pay $10 in administrative fees and that the genre of music you will receive will be what the salesperson decides to give you.

LAW

Independence would allow us to protect our civil law judicial system, different from common law used elsewhere in North America. These two systems are completely opposite.

Civil law functions a priori, assuming that future problematic situations may arise. Common law functions a posteriori, meaning that the law is defined once problems have come to light.

In civil law, laws are made mostly from democratic rule and are then applied by judges. Common law provides judges with more wiggle room, and hence more power, since laws are largely composed in response to judges’ judgments.

Independent, we would no longer be subject to the Supreme Court of Canada, which has butchered many of our most fundamental laws. The SCC invalidated several articles, as well as entire portions, of the Charter of the French language. The Canadian Charter prevents Québec from protecting the French language. It has transformed our status as a founding people into that of a mere minority within the Canadian anglophone majority.

EDUCATION

People tend to believe that the federal government had nothing to do with the tuition hike and student strike of 2012 because education is a provincial responsibility. However, at its core the federal government is responsible.

  • A portion of our taxes sent to Ottawa come back to us in the form of education transfers paid directly to teaching institutions. By choosing the breakdown of these transfers, Ottawa is the source of our higher education system’s funding problems.

HISTORY

Lord Durham, under the Act of Union, concluded that “authorities must do everything possible to assimilate the Canadiens, the first step being the unification of Upper and Lower Canada.”

John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada, made sure that western Canada would be exclusively protestant and anglophone. In largely francophone Manitoba, populated by the Métis, when he met resistance, Macdonald decided to hang their leader, Louis Riel, “even though all the dogs in Québec bark in his favour.”

In 1970 in response to the October crisis, Trudeau’s Canada declared martial law. Hundreds of Québécois, having absolutely nothing to do with the FLQ, were detained and imprisoned.

Independence is not about merely settling old scores. We must take this painful history into account as a symbol of the resistant nature of our people who survived enormous hardships throughout history. We must look forward to the future with a positive outlook and take responsibility and our rightful place in the world. After all, who could be against a bird flying with its own wings?

FIRST NATIONS

Québec’s independence represents the perfect opportunity to replace Canada’s Indian Act with a cooperative legal framework that better addresses the reality and aspirations of First Nations in today’s Québec.

True aboriginal emancipation can happen through Québec’s independence—the only way that we can break from the Canadian model. First Nations and Québécois can work together and co-found a new country, co-author its constitution, and finally improve troubled relationships.

First Nations lead a battle similar to that of the Québec people, seeking to promote their distinct identity, socio-economic development, and autonomy.

ANGLOPHONES

The 19th century Patriots Rebellion counted among their ranks many English-speaking people of British or American origin in addition to Irish, Scottish, and Italian members.

In 1838, the visionary Declaration of Independence of Lower Canada was written by Dr. Robert Nelson. His brother, Wolfred Nelson, led the Patriot rebels to their only victory against monarchist authorities on a battlefield in Saint-Denis.

It will be essential that the Québec republic provides safeguards to the English-speaking minority, who have historic and inherent rights that are just as legitimate as those of the French-speaking majority.

The creative energy that is typical of the anglo-Québécois minority and the international outreach of its culture are second to no other linguistic minority in North America.

Québec and its French-speaking majority will be responsible for continuing to provide it with a space to flourish, and their successes will be a great source of collective pride.

In a Canada-wide economic development plan, Montréal is considered a regional and peripheral city. But Montréal has far more potential as the metropolis of a North American sovereign state.

In order to avoid the long term drainage of funds from Montréal and to ensure its cultural and economic growth, independence is absolutely necessary. Montréal cannot compete with its current, regional status.

When the national question is finally resolved and its outcome, independence, is accepted by everyone, anglo-Québécois will be freed from their default position of opposing Québécois nationalism and be taken for granted by Québec’s primary federalist party. At that point, they will be able to take on a much greater and more constructive political role, positioning themselves across the left-right political spectrum on issues such as the environment, foreign policy, etc.

IMMIGRANTS

Even though Quebec selects its immigrants, it is really Canada that is responsible for their admission and for their visa.

The Discover Canada guide, which all immigrants must study for their citizenship exam, portrays a false reality to immigrants, influencing them to adopt a specifically English Canadian vision of culture, language, history, and institutions, pulling them away the reality of life in Québec.

Independence would be the chance to redefine our society. It would allow Quebec to decide its immigration and citizenship process as well as improve integration and a sense of belonging among immigrants in Québec society. Independence would give them the extraordinary chance to found a country.

ENVIRONMENT

Independence would provide us with the powers to manage our environment very differently than how Canada regime is currently operating. We in Québec would manage environmental decisions according to our own priorities.

As part of Canada, Québec does not have access to:

  • International treaties. In environmental matters, Canada has the competency to ratify international treaties—or to withdraw from them, as it did with the Kyoto Accord. As an independent state, we would have a say in international affairs. While not as great as the USA’s influence, Québec influence would be more than nothing, as is currently the case.
  • A say in the TransCanada pipeline project. Currently, Québec can only apply certain conditions, but we cannot oppose it’s construction.
  • The management of our water, especially the Saint Lawrence River and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
  • Managing transportation standards.
  • Financing our own research. With the money we currently give Ottawa, we could finance studies oriented towards protecting our territory.
  • Eco-taxation. As a country, we could deploy a complete eco-taxation plan, with all the fiscal powers of a country, rather than waiting for Canada to act.