We are waiting to see whether the Provincial Liberals are treating this demand for recognition
and fairness as seriously as the federal government has done so far
By Clarence Bayne
When species fragment into large numbers of small groups they put constraints on the system of which they are an organic and, dynamic part that make adaptation very difficult.
This will result in the specie clustering around low levels of life and subsistence. The renowned biologist Kauffman referred to this phenomena as “complexity catastrophe.” It is a condition that social scientist have observed also exist in human social systems.
Cultural groups that separate into large numbers of small competing sub-groups tend to become marginalized and disadvantaged, partly because of their weak negotiating position when faced with larger competitive rival groups, a result of poor internal communication and the lack of access to information, knowledge, and ingenuity/mechanisms for solving new problems.
The Black community is a fragmented set of sub-cultures that are in many ways closed to each other and isolated in the larger society as a result of competitive rivalry based on race, an history western colonial capitalism and slavery, and the economic and political arrangements of power in Canada.
Blacks should be organizing around pan-Canadian-pan-Africanist perspectives, but they persist in being regional, country of origin closed sub-cultures and separated by the linguistic wars of British and French settler peoples. This congruence of events and attitudes spell poverty and marginalization of the many and restricted success of a very few.
But life is never linear and completely predictable. It had many twists and turns, event mutations. Just as the Berlin Wall fell almost unexpectedly, it would not be surprising if one day Bill 101 fades into the unconscious spaces of the national consciousness. But at this point in time Bill 101 has made minorities of White English speaking peoples, making them the legitimate les Negres Blancs de Quebec.
So we have allies along the dimension of the language divide.
But just as in 1760 at the Capitulation of Montreal to the British, the French lost Quebec temporarily, but were allowed to keep their slaves and servants, so today in Quebec we remain a marginal sub-class of the English and French settler mainstream.
I suspect this is why the rank and file of the Black community on both sides of the language divide is taking a ‘wait-and-see’ position with respect to the new Ministry for English speaking relations in Quebec. You can’t blame them for being skeptical.
But as I said above, the world is non-linear, and nothing ever repeats itself in an exact way. Everything reacts to everything and adjusts to or acts on everything.
So with this view, 10 English speaking Black organizations came together for the purpose of overcoming Kaufman’s “complexity catastrophe” and reducing duplication and inter-organizational conflict. As a collective they hope to strengthen the strategic position of the English speaking Black community in this fractured multiculturalism of at least one but not more than two official languages.
Will the strategy pay off in terms of increased resources from the federal and provincial levels of government to stop the decline in the English speaking Black organizations and populations?
Federal elections follow the Quebec provincial elections in 2019. Both ruling parties (the Trudeau and the Couillard Liberals) are being challenged in the polls by the opposition parties; that means there is negotiating opportunity. But in Quebec no party seems willing to risk embracing multiculturalism and diversity as a rational for equal partnership with all cultural groups.
All parties seem to favour some degree of linguistic and cultural assimilation, therefore It is questionable that if the Liberals are not returned to power whether under alternate parties the Secretariat for English speaking relations would be willing to deliver what the current government is promising.
Some key English speaking leadership actually believe that “they” (the political and administrative bureaucracy in Quebec City) hates all English speaking peoples. In my view that might be mostly the effect of systemic and structured bias hidden in the social and political institutions.
What seems clear to me is that any attempt to reverse this attempt to create an arrangement that makes living with Bill 101 more acceptable will be potentially very disruptive of the social harmony. It will be crazy for Blacks to accept any form of modern slavery. So bounded rationality suggests that we will have to form alliances with progressive White French and English speaking citizens in the interest of creating a better society.
Of course, we expect the Federal government to protect our rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. They have dangled $400 million before the eyes of the Linguistic minorities.
It is encouraging that they have targeted Black and met with Blacks as a collective group in Montreal. That assures us that they are aware of the need to address the needs of Blacks as separate from that of other cultural groups. We are waiting to see whether the Provincial Liberals are treating this demand for recognition and fairness as seriously as the federal government has done so far.