At a time when Quebec sovereignty is once again in the news, Roy’s book shows us that, with $70 billion in trade between Ontario and Quebec and a cross-border migration that has seen 1.2 million Quebeckers moving to Ontario and 750,000 Ontarians settling in Quebec, the two provinces are more closely linked than ever.
Ontario in Transition, in the words of its author, is a book of many firsts. Not only does it represent the first time a prominent Quebecker has deigned to write a book about Ontario, it’s also the first time Ontario’s staggering demographic diversity and rapidly transforming economy have been so thoroughly examined. Ontario’s emergence culturally from colonial backwater to its current dazzle, which reaches its apotheosis in the Toronto International Film Festival, has also attracted Roy’s journalistic curiosity.
It’s the first time, too, that a reportage on Ontario took a hard look at its future and the future of the country, with all the internal, continental and global challenges it entails. For Roy, Ontario’s future is inextricably linked with that of the nation itself: “… (Ontario) will remain central in national affairs… In that sense, an interest in the future of Ontarians is tantamount to an interest in the future of all Canadians.”
Reviewing the book and noting the dearth of literature by Quebec writers reporting on the rest of Canada, Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson called Roy’s book “a shock and a delight…Very few Ontarians will have read as much literature by Ontario authors, plowed through more government reports about the province, spoken to so many thoughtful citizens and tried as hard as Mr. Roy to situate Ontario within contemporary Canada and the world. There’s a French expression for such a book: un tour de force.”
Roy took three distinct tacks in writing his book. First, he set out to treat Ontario as a specific society. Second, he made a conscious decision to talk to Ontarians themselves and ended up interviewing roughly 100 of them, from all backgrounds and origins, in every part of the province. Their voices are heard throughout the book. Third, Roy made a deliberate choice to leave out the conventional features of other books of its kind, namely, a history of the province, a comparative study with neighbouring societies (Quebec, for instance) and a treatise on constitutional issues.
For Roy, Quebec and Ontario have everything to gain by strengthening ties, culturally, and—with Ontario’s long-time trading partner, the United States, no longer the force it once was—economically, to together to create a trading partnership to reckon with the world.
Ontario in Transition: Achievements and Challenges
Oakville, Mosaic Press, 252 pp.,
Buy online: Mosaic Press