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Quebec and its place in canada

Fall (B) 2006 Program


In the last century, the message on Quebec license plates changed from “La Belle Province” to “Je me souviens.” Professor Jean-Jacques Simard, Université Laval, suggests a new slogan for this century, “On sait jamais.”


For over 200 years we have lived in a divided country – Quebec and the rest of Canada. So far the adjustments and compromises of Canadians have kept the country intact and working. Once again we must examine our ability to manage the relationships between French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians. The political events of the past few years show that the two groups see our country and its future differently. We must talk to one another so that the aspirations of Quebecois and other Canadians can be met in a single country. We need to view what is going on in Quebec nowadays in realistic and sympathetic terms so that our conversation with our Quebecois neighbours can be informed, friendly, and constructive.


These lectures and seminars will deepen your understanding of 21st century Quebec. Our speakers, some from Quebec and others from universities in Ontario, will break down our stereotypes of Quebec and its peoples, its cultural vibrancy, its institutions, and its history.



1. Friday September 29, 2006 - Guy Laforest, Professor, Université Laval, Quebec City

“A picture of the history of Canada as seen differently by Quebecois and  by people in the rest of Canada.“


"Making Sense of Canadian History: Critical Reflections from a Québec Perspective"

 The task of understanding Canadian History has always been a fascinating and complex one. In this lecture, I shall present and contrast some of the most important Québec narratives about Canadian History since the middle of the nineteenth century. Although some discourses have been hegemonic, dominant, I shall argue that Québec historiography has been, and remains, pluralistic to the core. I will make the same argument with regards to Anglophone approaches to Canadian History beyond Québec. In recent years, the most important historical narrative about the political identity of Canada has been propounded in 1998 by the Supreme Court in the Reference Case Concerning the Secession of Québec. I shall attempt in this lecture to supplement the vision fostered by the Supreme Court; while offering my own views about this, I shall place them in critical perspective with the contemporary schools in Québec and Anglo-Canadian historiographical schools. If the lecture is successful, participants will not only depart with more knowledge about the way Canadian History is made sense of in Québec; in addition, they will leave with useful insights about contemporary Canadian political identity and about the architecture of the Canadian state.


Saturday, September 30, 2006, Seminar – Guy Laforest

“Major collision between founding principles: the Spirit of 1867 and the Spirit of 1982”



2. Thursday, October 5, 2006 – Ken McRoberts, Principal, Glendon College, York University

“Quebec and Canada: Biculturalism, multiculturalism, and federalism.”


Abstract to follow.

Both Quebec and the rest of Canada have evolved into societies which accept waves of immigrants coming with their own identities but Quebec looks more to assimilation into a French speaking culture born of the concern that it will be submerged into what is seen as an ocean of anglos. Bilingualism seems to mean different things to Quebecois and other Canadians.


Friday, October 6, 2006, Seminar – Ken McRoberts

'What does Canadian Dualism mean?'



3. Thursday, October 19, 2006 - Serge Coulombe, Professor, Department of Economics University of Ottawa

“Is Quebec's economy converging to the Rest of Canada’s?”


Economists have changed their approach to the understanding of development and under-development since the pioneering work on New Growth Theories by Paul Romer (1986) and Robert Lucas (1988). The emphasis has shifted from the accumulation of physical capital (machines, infrastructures) to the accumulation of human capital (education, skills) and social capital (institutions). Since the mid-1990s, I have used this new framework to revisit the study of regional disparity in Canada. In 1999, my C.D. Howe Commentary was entitled: “Economic Growth and Provincial Disparity: A New View of an Old Canadian Problem (Coulombe, 1999).”


In this lecture, I will use this New View to analyze the relative evolution of living standards between Québec and the rest of Canada since WWII. The New View proves to be very useful since it illustrates three points: Quebec was lagging behind in 1950 due to a lack of human capital, 2) The convergence of Quebec’s economy toward the national average (1950-1970) has been driven by the accumulation of human capital, and 3) The end of the convergence period coincides with the exodus of the educated English-speaking minority from the 1970s.


Friday, October 20, 2006, Seminar – Serge Coulombe

“The driving forces of regional development in Canada”



4. Thursday, November 2, 2006 - Professor Antonia Maioni, Director, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

“Quebec in Canada: what does Quebec need?”


While regional diversity is an integral part of the Canadian landscape, the depth and sources of Québec's difference are not the same as elsewhere in the federation. To think that a solution lies in the symmetrical decentralization of the federation is a misdiagnosis of present and future trends in Québec's politics and society. To see Quebec's needs as relics from the past is to also misunderstand modern Québec, as recognition and autonomy are seen by a majority of Quebecers today not as instruments of redress, but rather as levers for future prosperity. The real challenge for the future of Canadian federalism rests on two parallel engagements. The first is sustaining the federalism dialogue already underway and substituting the scaremongering of the past with a robust effort at identifying the meaningful benefits of Canada for Quebecers. But this engagement also has to be about what Canada means and what Canadian federalism can stretch to encompass that meaning. The real challenge is to bring to closure the recognition of Québec's essential needs in the Canadian federation.


Friday, November 3, 2006, Seminar – Antonia Maioni

“Re-inventing Canadian Federalism”



5. Thursday, November 16, 2006 – Alain Noël, Professor Political Science, Université de Montreal

“The evolution of government and politics in Quebec and the rest of Canada”


In contemporary politics, the politics of place and of identity is largely defined through social policy. While they mattered little in 1867, and were thought mostly as private matters, social programs now constitute the primary activity of governments. They create rights, shape individual and social decisions, and empower social actors. With constitutional politics in an impasse, recent Canadian debates have thus emphasized the shaping and financing of social policy. Quebec and the rest of Canada have disagreed on the Social Union Framework Agreement (1999), on various federal initiatives in social policy and, more recently, on vertical and horizontal fiscal imbalance. Within Quebec, there are also significant disagreements on future social policy orientations, regarding in particular the consequences of demographic change, the size of the public debt, the role of the state, and the development of policies to counter poverty.


Friday, November 17, 2006, Seminar – Alain Noël

“When Fiscal Imbalance Becomes a Federal Problem”



6. Thursday, November 30, 2006 –Simon Langlois, Professor, Département de Sociologie, Université Laval

“Cultural and social changes”


There seems to be a stronger sense of cultural identity and the importance of culture in many forms in Quebec. There is little doubt that Quebec is a "distinct society" (Quebecois seem to have more fun that the rest of us do!). The cumulative effect of cultural and social changes contribute strongly to the Quebecois sense of themselves as constituting themselves as a "Nation".


This self definition is now shared by all francophones (and a large part of allophone communities, including premier Charest and federalists in Quebec. The presentation will summarize the lively debate on this question in the nineties. Quebec offers a fascinating example of a larger sociological process of "refoundation of the nation", a process ongoing elsewhere (including contemporary English Canada). What are the political consequences of this process, of the self definition of Quebec as a nation

 inside the Canadian federation ?


Friday, December 1, 2006, Seminar – Simon Langlois:

“The state of the support for sovereignty in Québec: 1995-2006”