Undeclaring a language war

A Montreal academic confronts the ‘mytho-constitutional Quebec universe’

This is the year of Canadian anniversaries. But in the flurry of events surrounding Canada’s 150th, Montreal’s 375th, the 40th anniversary of the Charte de la langue française (Charter of the French Language) in Quebec, and all the symbolic gestures of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, there has been relatively little mention—certainly in English—that 2017 is also the 35th anniversary of the patriation of the Constitution and the introduction of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The only discussion has been provoked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s spontaneous dismissal of Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard’s proposal to discuss Quebec’s role in Confederation. And the consensus in English Canada appeared to be relief that that other unmentionable “C” word would not return to public debate.

In a glowing editorial on the eve of Canada Day, the Globe and Mail recounted all the potential wrong...