Quebec Studies

An Assessment of Québec's Relations with States in the U. S. Federal System

Quebec Studies (2009), 47, (1), 141–162.

Abstract

141 An Assessment of Quebec's Relations with States in the U.S. Federal System Earl H. Fry Brigham Young University Introduction This article will offer an assessment of the Q u é b e c g o v e r n m e n t ' s relations with the fifty U.S. states. T h e topic is important for a n u m b e r of reasons. First, it highlights the subnational g o v e r n m e n t that over the past half cen­ tury has been the m o s t active in the pursuit of its o w n "international rela­ tions." Second, Q u é b e c is a rather distinct subnational unit in that it is the " h o m e l a n d " of a minority linguistic group within an anglophone-domi­ nated Canada, and the Q u é b e c g o v e r n m e n t ' s international policies have often been aimed at protecting and enhancing the rights of its o w n majoritarian francophone population. A n d finally, Q u e b e c ' s international activi­ ties offer perhaps the most comprehensive case study available on h o w subnational units such as provincial, state, and municipal governments are attempting to cope with the inherent challenges and opportunities found in an era of globalization. 1 2 Quebec as a Distinct Society M a n y residents in Q u é b e c consider themselves to b e a "nation," and in 2006 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced a motion in the Canadian H o u s e of C o m m o n recognizing Q u é b e c as a nation "within a united C a n a d a . " During the parliamentary discussion that ensued after H a r p e r ' s motion, the Bloc Québécois ( B Q ) insisted that Q u é b e c should be recognized as a nation without reference to the w o r d s "in Canada." T h e Canadian Parliament already recognizes m a n y aboriginal or native groups as part of the "First Nations," and H a r p e r ' s gesture w a s to m o v e Q u é b e c in the direction of a similar recognition and to underline its distinctiveness from the nine other provinces and three territories within the Canadian confederation. 3 Without doubt, Q u é b e c is distinct from other parts of Canada, even as Canada is emerging as one of the m o s t multiethnic nations in the w o r l d . A l m o s t 82 percent of all Q u e b e c e r s speak French as their first language, and as Antonia M a i o n i emphasizes, these French-speaking residents identify themselves as Q u e b e c e r s first, and this "individual identification and col­ lective appartenance to a Q u é b e c society, in political, linguistic, and cultural terms, has no parallel with provincial identities e l s e w h e r e . " Except in neighboring N e w B r u n s w i c k where roughly one-third of residents speak French as their first language, all other provinces are o v e r w h e l m i n g l y dom­ inated b y English-speaking populations. W h e n one includes the neigh­ boring United States in the picture, Q u é b e c can accurately be depicted as a French-speaking island in a vast ocean of English speakers. 4 5 6 Québec Studies, Volume 47, Spring/Summer 2009

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Fry, Earl