POLI 371 Study Guide - Final Guide: Cultural Assimilation, Ethnocentrism, High Standard Manufacturing Company
Course CodePOLI 371
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“Quebec and the Constitutional Problem” (Introduction by John T. Saywell)
●Mandate given to the “Constitution Committee” of the Quebec Legislative Assembly on
May 22, 1963: “To determine the objectives that should be pursued by French Canada in
the revision of the Canadian constitution, and the best means of attaining them.”
●The Quebec legislature has no authority to speak on behalf of “French Canada” (which
includes 850,000 Canadians whose mother tongue is French and who live outside of
Quebec and over whom the legislature has no jurisdiction, and Quebec also includes 1
million people whose mother tongue is not French)
●Should the state direct the whole of their action towards obtaining the specific good of
one ethnic group, becoming the vehicles of ethnocentric ideologies?
●Saywell: Canada must become a truly bilingual country in which the linguistic majority
stops behaving as if it held special and exclusive rights, and accepts the country’s
federal nature with all its implications. Yet, a constitution by itself cannot provide
adequate protection against the influence exerted by the Anglo-Saxon majority in NA.
●Saywell does not disagree with the complaints brought before the Constitution
Committee, but rather the validity of the solutions proposed.
○These cases have not paid attention to the fate of the working classes and the
consequences for them of the proposed constitutional transformations (“the
future of the language has made people forget the future of the man speaking it”)
●No constitutional reform, not even a declaration of independence, could make French a
major language of business in NA, or make Quebec a state capable of dictating its terms
to the rest of the continent
●Economic facts of the problem:
○The economy of Quebec is closely linked with that of Canada and both are
largely dominated by the US. Quebec cannot discuss its prospects without taking
into account that they are integrated in a continental economy.
●Linguistic facts of the problem:
○In NA, French is the mother tongue of 5 or 6 million people, while English is the
mother tongue of 182 million. Everywhere in NA, cultural assimilation tends to
reduce the importance of French as a language used by the population. These
linguistic and economic realities amount to a balance of power that no
constitutional document can change.
●3 areas in which forces of change may affect the basic facts of reality…
○ Men: the search for a better life, a source of migrations since the beginning of
time, is one of the forces motivating the people of Quebec. Economic pressures
can influence this, a workers tend to go where they can obtain the highest
wage/salary or where their contribution to society will be greatest. This can result
in a change of linguistic allegiance, or may be counterbalanced by moral,
patriotic or sentimental forces. The state may work to transform the economic
situation so that migrations may go in one way but not another, but it cannot
infringe on the conscience of the individual.
○ Capital: The richer a country, the more it can save and consequently invest; the
more it can invest, the greater the profits it makes and the richer it becomes.
Capital will tend to go where it makes the highest return, so the answer here is
not to chase away foreign capital, but rather use it within the framework of
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