In Quebec, at least for the less young, nostalgia is definitely the floor of the air.
From the memorial to former Prime Minister Jacques Parizeau to the controversial launch of the Lévesque Year, the over-50s, myself included, remember this great era of amazing social, political and cultural excitement.
With the younger generations returning “elsewhere” we have the sad impression of suddenly being part of an alien league of the old herd…
However, we will have had the immense privilege of living the entire work to the fullest: Silent Revolution, Creation of the Parti Québécois, October Crisis, Language Crises and Riots, Adoption of Bill 101, Hopes and Failures Constitutions, Referendums, etc.
At the same time, we will have admired women and politicians, most of whom are out of this world, who were capable of extraordinary intelligence and grandeur.
So much so that in our dark times of chronic polarization, sullen echo chambers, and delusional conspiracy, we can’t even imagine dreaming that big again one day.
The courage of Brian Mulroney
This week’s release of Brian Mulroney was yet another reminder of one of the most defining chapters of this increasingly forgotten era.
Notably, the media has kept his awaited statement to a Conservative Party, which he says he no longer recognizes. It is indeed impossible for the former leader of the late Progressive Conservative Party to find the slightest atom dependent on the aggressive far right of a Pierre Poilievre.
However, at 83 it sounded good, what you need to know about Brian Mulroney is this. He was Prime Minister of Canada from 1984 to 1993 and turned out to be the polar opposite of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Especially with the famous question that we dared to ask ourselves: “What does Quebec want? “.
Their goal: to redeem the fraud of Trudeau Sr., who gave Canada a new charter of rights without the approval of the National Assembly a year and a half after the Yes party was defeated in the 1980 referendum.
Mr Mulroney therefore pledged to bring Quebec back into the “big Canadian family” with “honor and enthusiasm”. At the cost of dissolving the Parti Québécois, even René Lévesque would succumb to Mr Mulroney’s federalist “great risk”.
The window has closed
Once in power, he negotiated his high risk with Robert Bourassa, who became Prime Minister of Quebec again in 1985. We know the rest. The Meech Lake Agreement, which recognizes Quebec as a “separate society,” was rejected in June 1990.
This agreement, which was also attacked by Trudeau senior from all sides, aimed primarily at recognizing and absorbing Quebec nationalism within the federation. And not, as Trudeau Sr. had so often done, to fight and humiliate him.
Brian Mulroney came from a very different school – that of “his” Canada, which he believed was poised to reach Quebec. If he had succeeded, two things are certain.
First, once this reconciliation between Quebec and Canada resulted in a concrete strengthening of Quebec’s powers within the federation, the sovereignist movement would never have recovered.
Second, since Brian Mulroney, any truly renewed federalism has become impractical. The only “window” was the one who bravely opened it.
The problem for Quebecers and their governments, whoever they are, is that after him, that window has closed forever.