Nunatsiaq News
EDITORIAL: -none- September 12, 1997 - 10:29 am

Reconciling the irreconcilable?

JIM BELL

Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard may believe, no doubt, that his visit this week to Quebec’s Inuit region will create the kind of goodwill that his separatist government has been hungering for in aboriginal Quebec.

Since 1995, when 95 per cent of Cree and Inuit voters said no to Quebec independence, Bouchard’s government has laboured mightily in an attempt to show that Quebeckers whose descendants didn’t arrive on leaky boats from Normandy also have a place in the hearts of his government.

That likely explains the $1 million his government is throwing at the Nunavik mining industry, and the $200,000 they’ve dumped into a Nunavik tourism association.

Residents of cash-poor, welfare-dependent regions like Nunavik will always smile and coo for any government leader who arrives on their land with an open check book. But if Bouchard and his separatist allies believe that this generosity will win the allegiance of Nunavik’s aboriginal residents, he’s kidding himself.

Time after time after time, Quebec’s aboriginal residents have insisted that they and their lands would stay in Canada if other Quebec residents decide to separate.

If a majority of Quebeckers decide to leave Canada, the only logical and fair response to this position is an ugly one: the partitioning of Quebec.

“Partition” is an ugly word with an ugly history. The use of partition to reconcile the irreconcilable ethnic and religious conflicts of the 20th century provides us with a history that is soaked in the blood of the innocent. Mindless unending wars in places like Ireland, Palestine, Bosnia and Cyprus are just a few examples of the ugliness with which the partitioning of nation states is commonly associated.

Sadly, Quebec sovereigntists are still in state of denial about the likely partioning of an independent Quebec despite the fact that recent polls have shown even a majority of Québecois would support the idea if Quebec were to become independent.

But the partioning of Quebec is not only a logical and fair response to the aspirations of Quebec’s aboriginal people. It’s also the only logical and fair response to the aspirations of Quebec sovereigntists.

However, Bouchard and his allies don’t want to admit to the people of Québec that only a geographically and culturally diminished nation and perhaps a more violent one would emerge after Canada keeps what is Canada’s. If Bouchard were to honestly admit that, Quebeckers would never vote for sovereignty.

It’s no wonder then that Bouchard this week urged Nunavik leaders not to talk about the real issues that divide his government and the Inuit leadership ­ sovereignty, and the partioning of Quebec’s aboriginal regions from an independent Quebec.

But Quebec’s aboriginal people aren’t fooled by Bouchard’s sunny ways.

Quebec’s natural resources minister, Guy Chevrette, has recently endorsed a plan to establish what would be a predominately francophone community on Cree lands in Radisson, Quebec. A Cree assembly has already denounced the plan, as they’ve denounced a previous plan to rename 101 lakes in the rerion with French names.

Nunavik’s Inuit, who have just agreed to revive self-government talks with Bouchard’s government, won’t be fooled either. They know that money and smiles can’t reconcile the irreconcilable. JB

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