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Chapter 2: Quebec Nationalism

Marcel Chaput, “Why I Am a Separatist”


  1. Chaput describes the bilingualism of most francophones as “proof of their enslavement.” Why does he say this?
  2. Chaput compares Quebec to the former European colonies that were gaining independence in the years following World War II. What are his reasons for describing Quebec as a colony?
  3. “The French-Canadian nation is economically weak and economically underdeveloped, living in economic bondage,” Chaput writes. Why does he say this?
  4. Chaput says, “French-Canadians are inferior to themselves.” What does he mean by this?
  5. “The desire to stick with Confederation at all costs is a search for excuses to justify the rejection of liberty,” he claims. What does he mean by this?
  6. What makes a nation, according to Chaput?


  1. At the time Chaput wrote, most businesses in Quebec were in non-Quebecois hands. This is much less true today. Do you think this would have changed Chaput’s views about separatism? Why or why not?
  2. “Quebec’s independence is . . . desirable for the same reasons that Confederation . . . is not,” Chaput writes. Why does he say this? Do you agree? Why or why not?

Diane Lamoureux, “Two Ways to Politicize Identity”

This is a difficult reading. Here is an outline of the argument to help you navigate it.

  1. Introduction
    1. Lamoureux suggests feminism and nationalism can be united by politicizing identity
    2. Atkinson and Walker: two examples of theoretical connections between emancipatory movements and nationalism.
  1. Identity as political
    1. we develop identities from the choices available to us
    2. feminism grounds Quebec nationalism’s demands for equality and independence, and also for liberation from assigned identities
  1. Identity and community
    1. political movements construct collective and individual identities, neither reducible to the other
    2. feminists replaced “sisterhood” with “the community of women” – two directions:
      1. critique of identity: “rupturing fixed identities”
      2. search for a complex unity: unity across differences
  1. Identity and relations with others
    1. two dimensions of liberation
      1. throw off the shackles of the past and end assigned identities
      2. end the illegitimate domination of individuals and groups
    2. emancipatory politics criticize power based on hierarchy – emphasize autonomy
  1. Conclusion
    1. identity is a political problem because it requires that we develop awareness; identities can’t just be discovered
    2. Quebec nationalism is more concerned with defining Quebecois identity than with opposing English Canada
    3. Quebec must find a reasonable compromise with English Canada, like what was offered in the 1980 and 1995 referenda


  1. Lamoureux describes identity formation as a “reflexive” process. What does she mean by this?
  2. We construct our identities from the choices available to us, Lamoureux says. What does she mean by this, and how is it relevant to her main argument?
  3. Lamoureux says feminism grounds Quebec nationalism’s demand for equality and independence, as well as its demand for liberation from an assigned identity. How does feminism ground these demands?
  4. Feminism no longer considers all women to be the same; contemporary feminists describe women as a community, not as “sisters.” This change has taken two directions. The first is “the critique of identity.” What does Lamoureux mean by this?
  5. The second is “the search for a complex but non-homogenizing identity.” What does she mean by this?
  6. According to Lamoureux, Quebec nationalism has been shifting from ethnic nationalism to civic nationalism. Why would nationalists want to change their identities in this way?
  7. “Liberalism has two dimensions: on the one hand, there is the attempt to throw off the shackles of the past . . .; on the other hand, there is the desire to overturn the illegitimate domination of individuals or groups,” Lamoureux writes. What does she think it means for Quebec to “throw off the shackles of the past”?
  8. What does Lamoureux think it means for Quebec to “overturn the illegitimate domination of individuals or groups”?
  9. Lamoureux says Quebec nationalism “is more concerned with defining ‘us’ than with seeking an opponent.” What does she mean by this?


  1. Lamoureux says we construct our identities from the choices available to us. Identities are not simply the products of choices, though; they also depend on our social circumstances, she says. What does she mean by this? Do you agree with her? Why or why not?
  2. According to Lamoureux, old social movements aimed to develop social unity. New social movements, on the other hand, aim to construct political identities. Why did Quebec nationalists aim to develop social unity in the past? And why do they aim to construct political identities today? Do you think one goal is preferable to the other? If yes, which one and why? If not, why not? In your answer, remember not to confuse Quebec nationalism with Quebec separatism.

Charles Taylor, “Shared and Divergent Values”


  1. According to Taylor, multiculturalism has contributed to the domination of English in Canada outside Quebec, which in turn has undermined official bilingualism. How did it do this, in his view?
  2. Taylor says the Charter has undermined Quebec’s attempts to survive as a nation. What is his argument for this claim?
  3. Canada outside Quebec takes a proceduralist view of liberalism, Taylor says. What is a proceduralist view?
  4. Quebec, on the other hand, takes a substantive view of liberalism on the issue of the survival of the Quebec nation. What is a substantive view of liberalism, and how does it differ from a proceduralist view?
  5. “The language of ‘equality’ between provinces has in fact been a source of confusion” in the debate about Quebec nationalism, Taylor claims. Why does he say this?


  1. Taylor argues that liberals in Canada outside Quebec have to acknowledge that proceduralist liberalism is not the only form of liberalism, and that Quebec chooses to live by a substantive form. What is his argument for this claim? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
  2. Taylor’s solution to the impasse between Canada outside Quebec and Quebec nationalism is “deep diversity.” What does he mean by this? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?


  1. Would Lamoureux consider Chaput a member of an old or a new form of Quebec nationalism? Why?
  2. Would Lamoureux agree with Taylor’s claim that Quebec and Canada outside Quebec have different views of liberalism? Why or why not? Do you agree with Taylor? Why or why not?
  3. Chaput was a separatist, Lamoureux is either a sovereigntist or a separatist, and Taylor is an asymmetrical federalist. Do you agree with one of these views? Why or why not?
  4. How are the demands of Aboriginal peoples and Quebec nationalists similar? How do they differ?
  5. Do Quebec nationalism and multiculturalism conflict? What would Lamoureux say? What would Taylor say? What do you think, and why?