Why do the French treat Quebec as a country?

Why do the French treat Quebec as a country? In the Petit Larousse Illustré dictionary the flag of Quebec appears among the flags of the world and on TF1 television today I saw the flag of Quebec presented as being that of a country as well. I believe Quebec is a region of Canada just as Brittany and Occitanie are regions of France. M.A. 

29 November 2016
By Oliver Rowland

It is hard to say how widespread this perception is, however we confirm that Quebec’s flag is shown in the Petit Larousse Illustré among the world’s flags, and it is unusual in only being a ‘province’ among sovereign states in that respect. It is one of 10 Canadian provinces, which are, however, more autonomous than French regions are.

Canadian provinces are more similar to American ‘states’ than French regions and are unified under a ‘federal’ government. Each has its own national assembly, government, prime minister and lieutenant governor (Queen’s representative).

Quebec has its own taxes, health system and legal system which is a mixture between French-style civil law and Anglo-Saxon common law. Its official language is French and it is primarily Roman Catholic.

Historically, it was a French colony which was taken over by Britain after a war and, according to some experts, it is a ‘nation’ in the ethnic and historical sense, similar to Scotland and Catalonia (the region around Quebec City is called Capital-Nationale).

There have been two independence referendums and in the last one - in 1995 - 49.5% voted in favour. The director of Quebec studies at McGill University in Montréal, Alain Gagnon wrote in a 2000 paper that, despite the failure of the bid for independence, Quebec had become increasingly autonomous in relation to its ‘economic and political partners’ and there were multiple examples of it being involved in international projects independently of Canada as a whole.

Larousse was unable to clarify the reason for including the Quebec flag, however one French academic living in Montréal told Connexion: “The French know the Que becois very well and consider them their American cousins... and they know you must never call a Quebecois person a Canadian because they will say they are Quebecois before anything else.

“I’d add that the independentist movement in Quebec in the 1950s-60s impressed a lot of French people and De Gaulle officially supported it, declaring ‘Vive le Québec libre!’ in a famous speech in Montréal.

“However I think the French know it’s not a country, but think of it as it actually is – a province that’s very different from the rest of Canada.”

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