Everybody in Quebec is a minority. Even the French-speaking Quebecers who form the political majority that wields power in this province are a cultural minority in North America, and even Quebec independence wouldn’t change that.
Minority consciousness can create feelings of vulnerability, fear of loss, and suspicion of others. In Quebec, where every group is a minority, it seems that every one of them is suspicious of some other, resulting in the wearisome particular divisiveness of the province’s politics.
Besieged minorities — and not only French-speaking Quebecers — need defenders against outside threats, real or perceived. This creates opportunities for volunteers, in the media and, as we saw again in Quebec this week, in politics.
The concern was not about what people do. It was about what they are, about a characteristic they cannot change. The implication was that there aren’t enough of the right kind of people in Quebec, and too many of the wrong kind.
To put this in perspective, it’s hard to imagine mainstream politicians and commentators saying in 2017 that there are too many Jews in Quebec. But it was socially acceptable for them to say there are too many non-francophones.
It was a divisive message, telling the majority, once again, that its identity is threatened by enemies in its midst. And it told the linguistic minorities that it’s not enough to learn French and use it. Our simple presence here is the problem.