My wife and I lived and worked in Hawaii for a year— living there on a short-term basis was enjoyable, but the decision to move back to Québec was a wise one.
Here are reasons why I find Québec endearing .
- Deep-rooted conflicts have been settled here rather peacefully. In the early 20th century, Québec and Ontario had become the most urbanized of Canadian provinces. But the government had not prevented industry from being exploitative. In Québec the majority of people were (and still are) French, but enterprises were owned and managed by English Canadians and by Americans. Despite the urbanization, during Premier Duplessis 18-year tenure, he did his best to keep the province agrarian, Catholic and conservatively-minded, denying his French citizens a chance to participate in commerce. Meanwhile his administration and the Catholic Church were responsible for much corruption and abuse.In 1960, a year after his death, a new government led the province into the Quiet Revolution, which ousted the Church from social, health and educational infrastructure. Almost overnight, as echoed by Rémy in a Denys Arcand`s movie, Les Invasions barbares, people stopped going to church. The Lesage government nationalized hydroelectric power and financed larger projects. These supplied more power to cities that grew as more people left their farms.
- In Québec, the crime rate is below the national average. The vast majority don`t own guns. Even though most francophones still don`t attend Sunday mass, and many just raise families in common-law arrangements, Québecers are civil, if not just plain nice to each other, and no less moral than anyone else .
- Thanks to our supply of a relatively green energy source, we have the lowest carbon footprint per capita in the country. In Gaspé most of the power is supplied by wind turbines. We are also one of the few places to have a cap and trade program for greenhouse gas emissions.
- Racial and religious discrimination is relatively low. A few years ago, when the Parti Québecois political party tried to exploit a minority-sentiment of intolerance, voters saw through the politicians’ attempt to manipulate them , and Marois’s party was ousted from power. A 1976 language law that made French the official language initially alienated the anglophone community, but again the conflict was resolved peacefully. Some panicked and left the province. But the English who remained made more of an effort to learn French, and in cities at least, francophones reciprocated.
- Our citizens are heavily taxed, but taxes fund Medicare, good social programs and an excellent CEGEP system. Many of our southern neighbours don`t understand social democracy; it only takes plain common sense to tell John Steinbeck apart from Joseph Stalin. University tuition rates, thanks to the federal government`s transfer payments, are also among the lowest on the continent. Although the bureaucracy in both health and education is excessive and large city-hospitals are crowded, these problems could easily be fixed by replacing most administrative retirees with more good doctors, nurses and quality-teachers.
- Its physical geography is beautiful. Many of our city folks don`t realize it. Instead of travelling abroad, we could vacation more often within our own province. It would lower our carbon footprint and stimulate the provincial economy outside urban centres. I will let my pictures speak for themselves.