September 6, 1994
MONTREAL (AP) -- The last time the separatist Parti Quebecois came to power in this French-speaking province of seven million people, an estimated 160,000 Anglophones jumped on Highway 401 and headed for Ontario.
Close on their heels were dozens of corporate head offices and millions of investment dollars.
That was in 1976.
This time around, with the near certainty of a Parti Quebecois victory in Monday's provincial elections, the passion is gone and nobody's calling the movers.
In 1976, the charismatic Rene Levesque led a young PQ to victory with a new vision of the future in a sovereign Quebec. In a referendum four years later, however, Quebecois opted for Canada over separation by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin.
Current PQ leader Jacques Parizeau, whose party has a comfortable lead in the polls, says if he forms the next Quebec government he will hold a referendum on independence within a year. Yet the same polls that show Parizeau and the PQ winning by a wide margin also predict defeat for another referendum.
Daniel Johnson, the Francophone premier of Quebec who is fighting a desperate rear-guard battle to keep his Liberal Party in power, has been unable to stir the province's minority English-speakers. Most of them seem resigned to a PQ victory.
Johnson, in an effort to whip up passions, predicted a PQ win in elections for the 125-seat Quebec legislature would set off another Anglo exodus.
"There will be barely anybody left to leave the province if the (Parti Quebecois) were to take power for any number of years,"
the premier told a news conference.
That does not, however, seem to be the case.
Many Francophone Quebecois, the overwhelming majority in the province, say they feel like second-class citizens in Canada and fear that without radical change, their language, culture and traditionally French institutions will slowly sink into the Anglophone sea that surrounds them in North America.
Nonetheless, the PQ says it wants English speakers to remain in an independent Quebec. It promises to continue to make English available in the legislature and courts and to continue to support the English school system, available only to children whose parents attended an English primary school.
"It's in Quebec's interest to have a dynamic, active and vibrant English community here," said PQ Vice President Bernard Landry.
Just who is an Anglo is not always easy to define, which is why estimates of their number in Quebec vary from 650,000 to 800,000. With continuing immigration, Quebec Anglophones soon may number fewer than what officials here call "allophones," people whose first language is neither French nor English.
Russell Williams, an Anglophone member of the legislature, acknowledges that the reality of being an English-speaking Quebecois is difficult.
"We are a minority within a minority, and that takes an extra effort," Williams said. "It's a majority French-speaking province. We accept that and want to live within it. We have seen the beauty of bilingualism and are actively living it."
It is in Montreal where the two cultures crash head-to-head. More than 500,000 of Quebec's Anglos live in this metropolis of three million on the St. Lawrence River. Other knots of Anglophones live in the Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec City and in the Eastern Townships, just north of New York state.
Most Anglos in Quebec profess a love for the province, and many of them are fluently bilingual.
"If I had to move to Toronto tomorrow, it would be like living in black and white after living in Technicolor,"
said Cathy Valenti, a 32-year-old sales coordinator for a clothing company.
Yet many Anglophones say they sometimes feel unwelcome here.
That is particularly true among the young, according to Michael Hamelin, president of Alliance Quebec, a volunteer group promoting English rights. Anglophones have made great strides in integrating into Quebec society in recent years, he says.
"That said, the concern for the English-speaking community is where do we fit in? There is great concern about the future, but that is mirrored against being happy being a part of Quebec society."
Alliance Quebec studies show young people are still leaving Quebec at a rapid rate. One reason is difficulty in finding a job: It is virtually impossible for an Anglophone to get a job in the civil service, for example.
"Young French kids, especially teen-agers, don't have much respect for English people anymore,"
said Charles Ross, 34, a car salesman in Quebec City.
"I think it's because they're being indoctrinated to see the English as a menace and an enemy of their culture rather than simply a different culture. And the government and the separatists don't help."
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