The scariest day of my life was a night in May 20, 1980.
Rene Levesque was holding Canada hostage 4 years after becoming premier of Quebec and his Parti-Quebecois held a referendum on the future of Quebec as a sovereign nation.
My family lived in Kingston, Ontario and my grandparents were a 3 hour drive away in Montreal, Quebec. I went to bed that night with tears fearing the next morning I would awaken to find my grandparents living in a foreign country. I was 10, I didnt fully understand the question or the consequences – it was just that things would change if Oui won.
15 years later, my fears returned when, in 1995, another referendum was held. Now 25 I vowed to fight back against the bogeyman of my childhood. I scoured the phone book for names and addresses of people in Quebec and sent them postcards of the Canadian flag urging them to stay in Canada.
I also got a tattoo of a fleur de lys and maple leaf on my ankle the day of that vote to insure that, no matter what, a united Canada would remain. In University I took part time classes in French Canadian studies with the thought of possibly becoming a bureaucrat to find a way to make this country work as one. I wrote essays on the legality of separation and even dubbed BQ founder Lucien Bouchard as Lucifer.
The threat of Quebec separation has weighed heavy on my heart my entire life. The BQ and PQ are a special brand of terrorists who have haunted me since I was a boy. Today, with the beast finally neutered, is a good day.
Americans took to the streets in celebration over the death of Osama Bin Laden blind to the fact that when one leader leaves another takes its place. I’m not naive enough to think that the massive support for Jack Layton in Quebec is enough to bring Quebec fully into Confederation, but it’s a start.
This morning, I’m smiling. For now.