Black Separation in America: Lessons from the Quebec Separatist Movement
By Roger Atangana Muhammad -Guest Columnist-
Updated Nov 13, 2012 - 1:19:01 PM
Since 1759, before Canada became a country and a federation, when the siege of Quebec by the British on the Plains of Abraham saw the death of famous General Montcalm and General Wolfe, the seeds of what became known as the Quebec Separatist Movement had been sown.
At first glance, this movement, its history and development, may not seem pertinent to the Black liberation movement in the United States. But upon closer analysis, one may find important lessons to draw from for Black People in America.
To begin with, in 1968, in the midst of high tensions and frequent rioting stimulated by what was coined ‘The Quiet Revolution’ in the Province of Quebec, the French separatist intelligentsia (W.E.B. DuBois’ Talented 10th) saw an opportunity to form a political party called PQ (Parti Québécois), that successfully amalgamated the many disjunctive factions of the movement into a strong united political force, speaking under one central banner. This is propably what Dr. Conrad Worrill would call a ‘French United Front’.
So the question is, what was done in the Province of Quebec to insure the PQ enjoyed increasing influence toward the attainment of its political objective, which was/is, in their case, French Nationalism in Quebec and Sovereign independence from English Canada? This, we should note, in spite of the fact that the RCMP, the FBI’s counterpart in Canada, worked very hard to undermine the PQ by fomenting strife and stimulating criminal activities in the separatist movement’s more radical wing, the FLQ, a group some would compare to the Black Panther Party of the same era.
One classic example of this Canadian counter-intelligence program is the story of a school teacher turned agent, by the name of Carole Devault. Under instructions by the RCMP, she led FLQ members in notorious criminal activities such as bank robberies and even bombings, all for the purpose of vilifying and tarnishing the image of the separatist movement as a whole, and consequently, to critically damage the credibility of the newly formed PQ in the media. Self-evidently, all this was done to stop the party’s meteoric rise to power at the time.
Nonetheless, in spite of all the efforts of the RCMP and the Canadian Federal government, on November 15, 1976, eight years after its creation, the PQ ultimately won the elections and took power in Quebec to form the Province’s first nationalist government, forever changing the political landscape in Canada. In 1980, the PQ decided to launch a referendum on the separation of Quebec from Canada, which they lost then with 40 percent of the votes.
In spite of their loss, this clearly demonstrated the success and deepening roots of its political ideology among the Quebec masses. fifteen years later, in 1995, the same year as the Million Man March, the PQ held another referendum which, this time, they lost by a very thin margin. They were just under 50 percent of winning independence.
In light of this political history, in the pursuit of nation-building, we are naturally tempted to draw certain parallels with Black Separation Movement in America, led by the Teachings and Program of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, via His Faithful Minister, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
In drawing such parallels, we may find that the political saga of the Quebec separatist movement, though far from a perfect model, holds several interesting lessons about the quest for independence and about the national organization of an entire people. It demonstrates what palpable results and benefits can be yielded from political and economic consolidation when a people’s intelligentsia is commited to a common agenda.
As we recently celebrated the 17th Anniversary of the Million Man March in Charlotte, let us remember that such an opportunity was presented when the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan presented the National Agenda at the Million Family March. This document, if juxtaposed with the miraculous unity achieved in 2005 at the Millions More Movement (the 10th Anniversary of the MMM) provides ALL the ingredients to form a Black National Movement of the effectiveness and magnitude of the Quebec Nationalist Movement in Canada.
It is unfortunate that very few of us took this document, The National Agenda and that movement, The Millions More Movement, as seriously as we should have. Had we done so, Black America would probably be 50 years forward economically and politically! Have you heard about the National Agenda? Did you read it from cover to cover? If not, you should do so, as Brother Jabril says: RIGHT NOW!
Having said that, let’s continue to look at this movement ...
Ultimately, to accelerate the political process and gain a voice in Ottawa, the separatist movement created a federal wing to the Parti Québécois, called the Bloc Québécois, which operates as an official federal opposition party, exercising pressure on the Federal Canadian Government to deal justly with the Quebec people. That party of course, works intimately in concert with the PQ. This is also a very interesting tactical approach for Black America to investigate.
It differs structurally from the Congressional Black Caucus in that it stands as a third political force and can independently represent the interests of Quebecers, while forcing the two major parties (Conservatives and Liberals) to take extra steps to convert voters in that Province, thereby giving back more to the Quebec people by ricochet.
Unfortunately, for them, the Bloc Québecois ultimately fell from grace after the rise of the New Democratic Party (NDP) led by the late Jack Layton, which ended up replacing the BQ as the third major party in Canada. The deep political reasons for this downfall are too complex to explain in this article. Nevertheless, the concept of the BQ remains a very interesting political strategy to study, for any movement seeking separation within or from a country.
When we study the above political approach, in light of the tireless efforts made by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to create, as the late great Kwamé Touré desired, a National Black United Front, along with bright thinkers like Dr. Conrad Worrill and Ron Daniels, we are shown a living model of what can result from truly becoming organized as a people.
When we study the economic initiatives stemming from the Quebec movement in the 70s, like the “Caisse Desjardins” and the “Caisse de dépôt”, which were designed to economically empower Quebec workers and pool their resources, such examples offer a picture, in real-time, of exactly what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad has been advocating for our people in the United States.
In the face of a crumbling American economy, where even a Black Presidency could not raise us out of the mud, the benchmarking of successful or near-successful models can give us a critical edge. Keep in mind that this article could have easily been written as an entire book, for the matter is much broader in scope than what we can detail in these few lines.
But suffice it to say this: In pooling their resources in an organized fashion, Quebec Nationalists have shown that 95 percent of the problems standing against the collective aim of a people can be resolved through unity. So, as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad concludes on that same p. 174, “you do the same.”