listed on web site as of April 25, 2004.
Bloc Québécois (also known as
the "BQ" or the "Bloc")
is a federal political party, though it runs
candidates only in the federal electoral districts
of Quebec. Its members and supporters come
from a broad spectrum of political orientations
by the party's central purpose: to promote
the secession of Quebec from Canada or, when
the desire of Quebecers for secession is weak,
to promote the "interests" of Quebec.
It is perhaps for this reason that the party's
web site is extremely light on details concerning
matters of policy or ideology.
the BQ can be found not only proponents of Quebec
secession and independence, but proponents of Québécois
nationalism. The latter view Quebec as a place
that is, first a foremost, for "pur laine" (i.e., "pure
wool", or "old stock") Quebecers:
a place in which the French language, culture is
preserved, and in which the future is determined by those
with a long, francophone, ancestral history in
Quebec, for those with a long, francophone,
ancestral history in Quebec, even if to the detriment
of newcomers. That nationalist sentiment is perhaps
epitomized by the speech given by Parti Québécois
leader Jacques Parizeau following the failure of
the 1995 Quebec secession bid, in which he blamed
the defeat upon "money and the ethnic vote".
simply seeking independence for Quebec, or whether
seeking a nation state, the BQ's position on newcomers
to Quebec can be summarized being based on the "melting
pot" model. The party has been vocal in opposing
Quebec, the emphasis is on integration. Not assimilation
but integration. The official definition of integration
is as follows: integration is long term multi-dimensional
process of adaptation, distinct from assimilation.
In this process, the knowledge and use of the
common language of Quebec society is a fundamental
driving force. The process is consolidated in
a society, where participation by all Quebecers
is guaranteed and where immigrants and members
of cultural communities find their place and
are recognized as full members of the communal,
social and political life of a pluralistic francophone
policy has received unanimous approval in Quebec;
it is never an issue, unlike the Canadian policy.
cannot help but notice that multiculturalism
enjoys anything but unanimous approval. The Decima
and Gallup polls published in 1993 showed that
75 per cent of Canadians rejected the policy
of multiculturalism and favoured a style of integration
similar to Quebec's.
the government's investment in multiculturalism,
it is a sad thing to see it fail. For the year
1993-94 alone, the government invested $38,846
million. The program has existed for 20 years.
How many billions of dollars have been invested
to date in a flawed policy which the country
does not want?
policy is not working and even its target public,
members of ethnic communities, are criticizing
it. I cite as an example the overwhelming support
for Neil Bissoondath's first book. His supporters
were unanimous in saying that the government
should only concern itself with helping immigrants
to integrate into our society and fighting racism-end
of story. He noted that the federal government's
policy tended to create ethnic ghettos, which
in no way foster integration and full participation
in political, economic and social life.
also cannot leave unmentioned the absurdities
made possible by the multiculturalism policy.
Barely six months ago, a consultation paper from
the Minister of Justice proposed that culture
or religion be permitted as a defence against
criminal charges. Because of the ensuing uproar,
the minister had to recant and withdraw the proposal.
That is one example of how far some people will
go to promote different cultures.
closing, I would like to stress that a sovereign
Quebec would continue to favour integration and
respect. The current Minister of International
Affairs, Cultural Communities and Immigration,
Bernard Landry, confirmed that position just
a month ago.
allow me to quote him: ``Quebec will not use
the public purse to subsidize cultural differences.
Our government is against multiculturalism. Although
the Quebec government acknowledges the fact that
Quebec is multi-ethnic, it favours a policy of
cultural convergence in one common culture, fortified
by foreign sources''. That sums up well Quebec's
position on multiculturalism and deals with the
BQ MP Christiane Gagnon
House of Commons Hansard, April 5, 1995
BQ was founded in 1990 following the failure
of federal government and the provinces to
amend the Canadian Constitution according to
what was titled the Meech Lake Accord: a set
of proposals that would constitutionally entrench "recognition" of
Quebec as a "distinct society", bilingualism,
and other changes that some (notably, Quebec's
premier of the time, Robert Bourassa, and Canada's
Progressive Conservative Prime Minister of
the time, Brian Mulroney) thought would strengthen
the Canadian federation.
at the time of Progressive Conservative ("PC")
and Liberal party members who left those parties
to form the Bloc, the party's first leader was
former PC cabinet minister Lucienne Bouchard. Bouchard
led the BQ to win 54 seats in the House of Commons:
just enough seats to form Her Majesty's Official
the Quebec secession referendum of 1995, Bouchard
stepped down from the leadership of the party to
lead the Bloc's Quebec provincial soul mate, the
Parti Québécois. The leadership of
the party was assumed by Michel Gauthier for just
over a year. The party's current leader, Gilles
Duceppe, assumed the leadership of the party on
March 15, 1997 .
the federal general election of 1997, the BQ under
Duceppe won only 44 seats, losing its Opposition
status to the Alberta-based Reform Party of Canada
(led by Preston Manning, son of longstanding former
Alberta Premier Ernest Manning, whose Social Credit
Party of Alberta remained in power there for decades).
In the federal general election of 2000, still
under Duceppe, the party won fewer seats again:
38. Since that time, several of those seats have
been lost in federal by-elections. Some BQ MPs
have announced that they do not intend to seek
the nomination for the 2004 general election.
the party's reason for being, one would expect
the BQ's popularity to continue to dwindle as Quebec's
interest in secession fades. However, the fact
of the matter is that, apart from the BQ, the Liberal
Party in Quebec currently has no formidable competitor.
Thus, until another party takes considerable root
in the provinces, BQ candidates can be expected
to continue filling the vacuum left when voters
decide not to re-elect Liberal MPs in that province.