Only In Canada

inkwellQuebec, particularly the Quebecois and their perception of their place in the world is nothing short of a puzzle. What’s even more difficult is to try to explain what that perception is and how they see themselves and their station in life. The best way to attempt that is by listening in on a repartee between two foreign tourists visiting Paris one of whom is a Quebecois in a common second language, English.

In a busy Parisian cafe, a Quebecois tourist is sitting alone, enjoying a crème caramel. Another tourist approaches:

May I sit here?quebecois_LG

No problem…

Thank you, very nice…

Are you on vacation?

Yes, I arrived yesterday…

What country are you from?

Norway. You?

From Quebec.

Quebec? I don’t know Quebec…

Quebec… near the Atlantic, next to Ontario, the Great Lakes…

No, I don’t know these places.

Never mind then, I’m from Canada…

Ah! Canada! Canada I know! So why you tell me you come from Quebec?

Because, my first country is Quebec!

Oh, you were born in Quebec and immigrated to Canada….

No, no, I was born in Quebec and I stayed in Quebec...

Oh, then your father is from Canada?

No, no, my father, my mother, my wife, my dog, everybody, they come from Quebec….

So why you say Canada?

For Christ sake, because you say you don’t know where is Quebec!

OK, but if you say you not know Norway, I not say that my country is Japan…

Shit! Canada isn’t Japan. Canada, it’s my country.

Oh, your country not Quebec anymore?…

My country is Quebec. But my country, it can be Canada too, if the person I’m speaking to not know where is Quebec, Tabarnak!

I don’t understand…

Look, it’s simple: I come from the Province of Quebec, in the country of Canada.

Ok! But I didn’t ask you what Province you’re from, I ask you what Country you’re from. Me, I come from Lofoten region in Norway, but I answer you Norway when you ask me what country I come from…

I know, I’m not stupid, Calisse! But me, when they ask me what country I come from, I answer Quebec. Even if it’s the name of my Province. For me, it’s my Country.

Oh, now I understand. You are a separatist, you want your Quebec province to be your country.

Are you crazy, Hostie? I don’t want to know nothing from that shit!

I do not understand anything anymore.

I tell you before, it’s simple! You ask me what country I come from, I answered Quebec because Quebec is my country, but I don’t really want it to be my country, it would be too much trouble. I just want to say it. So, why don’t you just let me say it?

I’m all mixed up. You have passport from what country: Quebec or Canada?

CANADA, Hostie!

So why you not tell me Canada right away?

Because it don’t feel right. For me, Canada is Anne Murray, the Calgary Stampede, the Mounted Police, SARS, it’s not my home all that. Home, it’s La Famille Plouffe, Seraphin Poudrier, La P’tite Vie, Felix Leclerc, La Poune, Les Canadiens de Montreal, Les Bougons… Do you understand???

Less and less…

Listen, forget all that shit. Ask me another question.

Ok, what town you come from?

Mmm…, I don’t know anymore…

You not know what town you come from?

Yes, yes, I know what town I come from, but my town it merged with another town, but soon it is going to demerge from the town that was supposed to be my town…

Oh, that very complicated! When you write your address, what do you write?

I don’t know anymore. Before, I used to write Hull, but Hull changed to Gatineau, but they tell us to wait 3 years before stopping to write Hull to not mix up the mailman. But now, the Liberals they pass a law that make it okay for Gatineau to be Hull again, but I don’t know if we have to wait 3 years to be able to write Hull, or when the 3 years are passed, if we have to write Gatineau for 3 years, and after we write Hull. Unless, of course, the PQ come back in power and we remerge with Gatineau, then we’ll have to write Gatineau for 3 years.

I’ll leave now; I my head hurts…

It’s so simple, Tabarnak: My town is Hull, my country is Quebec. But if you prefer, my town is Gatineau and my country is Canada.

OK, I think I understand!

It’s about time. Anyway, it was fun talking to you, if you come around where I live; maybe you come and see me…

OK, but where? Hull in Quebec or Gatineau in Canada?

You’re a pain in the ass. Forget the whole thing.

That, my friends, is the most accurate portrait of Quebec that you will ever get and it probably the best explanation of the recent Quebec provincial election.~