National media suffice

Canada is a tolerant country. From its own perspective, it has allowed the sovereignty movement to prosper to a disturbing proportion. Whether one likes it or not, the sovereignty movement is a very important component of the Canadian political landscape. For the majority of Canadians however, the sovereignty movement is a parade they can only witness and must rely on a third party to understand.

English and French media have different characteristics, heritage and culture. English media have larger audiences, have more revenue potential, are more independent in producing their own in-depth stories and have more North American news wires to choose from for "broadcast ready" stories. Editorials are often the result of a consensus between several individuals and are often unsigned. The political spectrum in English media mainly goes from left to right.

French media have smaller audiences, have less revenue potential, have less means to produce their own in-depth stories and must rely on European news wires for "broadcast ready" stories. Each publication has its own editorial board and its own editorial line, but each editorial is the opinion of its author. The political spectrum in French media mainly goes from sovereignty to federalism.

In French media, journalists are roughly split half and half over separatism and federalism. They all work on a daily basis with colleagues who pledge to the other conviction. Their incentive to make more balanced and documented reports on any of the two options is significantly higher than their peers' of English media. In terms of variety of opinion over Québec's sovereignty, mainstream national media simply don't cut it and most of their rationale is shallow.

Positions on the sovereignty movement such as Diane Francis' of the National Post have no equivalent against federalism. In his 1997 book, "The Antagonist: Lucien Bouchard and the Politics of Delusion", Lawrence Martin of the Globe and Mail calls Lucien Bouchard "Lucifer of our land". Sovereigntists have never demonized federalism in a similar fashion.

In national media, the debate over Québec's sovereignty is too often reduced to a caricature where good faces evil. George W. Bush used this simple approach to promote his operation in Iraq. It sells news, but it's detrimental to a unifying dialog. Montréal's daily English newspaper acknowledges this and lends its pages to Josée Legault, well known for her sovereigntist convictions.

Simply put, both Québec's sovereigntists and federalists have a more articulate opinion on their respective option than Canadians of other provinces. Jean Charest sums it up rather well [Google translation] in his reaction to Stephen Harper's address against the Liberal-NPD-Bloc coalition on December 3, 2008: "I live in a society in which people can be federalists or sovereigntists and respect each other. The same thing should prevail in the federal parliament. One can't condemn anyone for defending one option or the other."

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