The word “nationalism” has long been pejorative to the people of Quebec’s Anglophone community.

Since the 1970s, Quebecers have been placed into two groups: Federalist or nationalist, and to be a nationalist meant to be a separatist.

Why shouldn’t Quebec’s Anglophone community want our province to be the best in Canada? That’s what open nationalism is about: The entire population of Quebec uniting behind a common goal – to make Quebec great again.

It’s time for our community to break away from this antiquated mentality and understand that in 2014, you can be a Quebec nationalist and a proud Canadian at the same time.

I am.

It’s no secret that Anglophone Quebecers generally feel disengaged and isolated from our province’s political reality. For more than 40 years, the people of our community have been told either to “go home to Canada” by the PQ or to quietly support the Quebec Liberal Party for no reason other than it being federalist.

Now there’s a third way: The Coalition Avenir Quebec and the concept of open nationalism.

Open nationalism, simply put, is a response to the PQ and Quebec Liberal parties’ shared approach of dividing Quebecers on one question for their own electoral gain. But Quebecers are smarter than that and are awakening to the fact that in reality, one question cannot and should no longer define the public debate.

While we’ve bickered about La question nationale for two generations, our infrastructure has collapsed, our debt has ballooned, our health and education systems have crumbled and, in the Anglophone community, we’ve lost our sense of being Quebecers. We’ve lost our claim on our home, Quebec.

I’ll readily acknowledge that Bill 101 is a touchy subject in the English community. For those who stayed, the Anglo exodus of the late 1970s and early 1980s was difficult to watch. Growing up in the 1980s and 90s, I was exposed to the worst forms of rhetoric and hatred from a certain segment of society that believes Bill 101 should be a weapon against English.

But 101 is not a weapon, it is a tool. Rather than feeling oppressed by this law, I feel we have been empowered by it. I come from the first generation of Quebec Anglophones that grew up completely bilingual because of it. When our generation’s children study French, they’ll be greatly aided by the fact that their parents all speak French well enough to help them with their homework and assist in teaching them the language.

A generation later, thanks to our vigilance in protecting our own language and our exposure to French, if we work hard, we’ll have a community of people who can easily speak both languages. We’ll have a community that can work in francophone businesses with francophone colleagues and supervisors with ease. We’ll have a community that has deep roots in Quebec, has its own language and culture, but can finally integrate with the majority French community of our province and both can thrive together.

What open nationalism means is we can be proud to be Quebecers as well as being proud to be Canadian. I liken it to the Montreal Canadiens and the NHL: Of course we want the Canadiens to win every game, but that doesn’t mean we want the NHL or the other teams to fail. It means we want to be the best.

Why shouldn’t Quebec’s Anglophone community want our province to be the best in Canada? That’s what open nationalism is about: The entire population of Quebec uniting behind a common goal – to make Quebec great again.

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