Quebec Studies

NAFA, Quebecers and Fear (?) of Americanization: Some Empirical Evidence

Quebec Studies (2000), 29, (1), 25–42.

Abstract

25 NAFA, Quebecers and Fear (?) of Americanization: Some Empirical Evidence By James Csipak and Lise Héroux Plattsburgh State University Within the last fifteen years "YAméricanité des Québécois" has become an increasingly discussed topic inside as well as outside Quebec intellectual and economic circles. Unquestionably, the failures of both the Meech Lake (1990) and Charlottetown (1992) accords, as well as the advent of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA, 1989) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA 1994) and the Quebec government's preeminent role in promoting both free trade agreements, have acted as a strong catalyst in broadening the discussion. Ever since, a growing number of symposiums, colloquiums, conferences, books, journal publications, newspaper and magazine articles, etc. have been steadily addressing this important "multidimensional" concept. According to Dupont (1991), the word "américanité" first appeared in print in an article published in 1967 in Le Devoir by Jean-Guy Pilon entitled "Une réalité issue de l'Amérique." The article dealt with Quebec literature which, Pilon reported, was then beginning to be discussed and appreciated in Paris. Dupont (1991) suggests that it is Quebec playwright Jacques Languirand who, in 1971, launched the whole questioning about Quebec's américanité with a text entitled "Le Québec et l'américanité," published at the end of his play entitled Klondike. According to Lamonde (1996), the questioning about Quebec and its américanité (American-ness) had already begun twenty-five years earlier: It is upon seeking its own identity from that of French literature that FrenchCanadian literature comes to realize Quebec culture's continental roots ... Before Jacques Languirand, Jacques Godbout, and Jacques Poulin, Jean Le Moyne brings about a crucial shift within Quebec culture introspection: he has it cross from a standstill fixation on Americanization to the risky exploration of its own Américanité. (74) As for the word "américanisation," a quick perusal of Bouchard and Lamonde's (1995) repertory of articles and books dealing with Quebec and its historical place within the North American continent, reveals that it appeared in print as early as 1913, in an article published in Le Devoir by Henri Bourassa, entitled " L'américanisation par les journaux." The concept of Americanization, which refers to the fear of having one's culture engulfed by the United States culture, appears much earlier in Quebec's history. At the turn of the nineteenth century, two forces were struggling to determine Quebec's future in North America: the "conservative clerical elite" for whom Quebec had to remain within Canada, and the "liberal" forces, whose leaders, Etienne Parent and Louis-Joseph Papineau, promoted Quebec's annexation with the United States. With the defeat of the Patriot revolt in 1838, both Quebec elites, the conservative clergy as well as its counterpart, the liberalthinking elite, used "fear of Americanization" as a rallying call. But, as suggested Québec Studies, Volume 29, Spring/Summer 2000

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Csipak, James

Héroux, Lise