As Canadians we have lived through several never-endums, and many of us have opinions about what would happen if Quebec finally were able to get enough support to separate from Canada. I have pondered the situation for many years, but it wasn’t until recently that I really started to understand a few things.
My wife and I have vacationed at the same spot for many years which just happens to be located north east of Ottawa on the Quebec side of the river. The same families go each year, so our children and the adults have become good friends. One of the people in our group of friends is a very well educated school teacher who is frequently reading by the beach and one day the topic of separatism came up. I explained how I didn’t understand how the people of Quebec could possibly think that separation was a good idea. The teacher listened to me rant with a big smile and when I was done she calmly said “Fred you don’t understand. You care and think about politics and to us, it is just not important.”
It was a real eye opener for me and I have since discovered that it is not unique to Quebec. A friend of mine is from Iran and one day we were talking about a recent election and I asked him why the people would vote the same person back into office. He said “Fred you don’t understand. I have a relative that collected ballots in the last election. When he asked why the people voted for the person they did, they replied it was because he had a nice beard.”
People around the world clearly value different things. In Italy government is not a full time job. Most members of the government have day jobs and get together to run the country as a secondary exercise. Too often North American’s apply their rules to other people and it just doesn’t work. Yes democracy is a great thing, but it’s hard to argue with “He has a nice beard.” or “We simply don’t care.”
I kind of like the idea of a part time government where all the MP’s have day jobs. If people have their priorities straight and the laws are such that you can keep the less than completely honest individuals under control, life could be good. In North America, we believe that a good government is the key to a good life. Clearly other people don’t see it that way.
As a foot note to this post: I just finished writing this and I turned on the TV to watch the people of Quebec elect a new Liberal government with a 78% voter turn out. Just goes to show how little I really know [grin].