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Busting the separatist bubble - Ottawa Citizen

As an immigrant, I love Canada. My message to the Quebec separatist movement is simple: Touche pas à mon pays and vive Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarko décore Charest - février 2009

Bursting the separatist bubble

By Naomi Lakritz, The Calgary Herald, February 9, 2009

Oh, mon Dieu! Did you hear the news? Nicolas Sarkozy's been kidnapped by aliens -- oops, Canadian federalists -- and they've done awful things to his brain. It's terrible. Almost too terrible to talk about, really.
But it seems monsieur le president de France has been spending too much time hanging around with people like (gasp!) Paul Desmarais, le grand fromage over at Power Corp., and they've been filling his head with the most awful federalist notions. Why, they've got Sarkozy thinking that Quebec sovereignty is just plain dumb.
Sarkozy said the other day at a ceremony honouring Quebec Premier Jean Charest in Paris that there's no room for sectarianism over here in New France. "Do you really believe that the world, with the unprecedented crisis that it is going through, needs division? Needs hatred?" Sarkozy asked.
Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe accused Sarkozy of being sans dignity and sans class in his remark. Yes, Gilles, you're right -- someone who thinks Canada ought to stay together instead of letting one of its pouting little provinces break up the country by leaving, has neither class nor dignity.
Casting about for a phrase to express the exasperation such nonsensical thinking engenders in the listener? Well, as they say (a lot) in la belle province, "oh, mon doux Seigneur!" which translates to "oh, my sweet Lord!" Which sounds positively George Harrisonish, doesn't it? Which makes it quite the Anglo thing to say. Better drop it from the French language and say something else.
The sovereigntists are spluttering with indignation. This enfant terrible's support for Canadian unity is despicable. Triply so because he's from France. Heck, the sovereigntists can take it when it comes from English-Canada, but from the home country whence all those Tremblays, Labelles, Savards and all the rest set sail for New France way back when? It's too much to be borne.
Duceppe made it worse by adding: "We can be a sovereign country and that does not mean that we hate Canada. On the contrary, it's a great country and I like the Canadian nation very much." That's along the lines of "it's a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." Or as a woman I worked with years ago chirped when her marriage ended, "We've decided we're not going to be married. We're going to be best friends instead." Good luck with that.
If you really liked Canada so much, Gilles, you wouldn't want to leave. Talk about getting things bass-ackwards. But then, the separatists' position is just that. They want to have their very own country, with no military, money or anything else to call their own except piles of poutine, yet they expect that all North America and Europe will be at their doorstep eager to shore up their Gallic fantasy by stepping up trade with them and spurning Ottawa. That's not Gallic; that's just gall.
Meanwhile, Gérald Larose, who presides over the Conseil de la souveraineté, says that if sectarianism and aggressivity are present, "it is not in Quebec." Really? Then why is Quebec the only province to have a term to describe a certain ethnic group of people born there? You can't be "pure laine" if you're an anglophone born in Quebec. Only if you're a francophone. Sounds like some insidious sectarianism going on there, doesn't it? And talking about breaking up Canada hardly smacks of passivity.
Messieurs Larose, Duceppe and whoever else is très upset over Sarkozy's remarks: The fact remains that Quebecers aren't interested in separation, which is why they elected Charest's Liberals to run the province. Don't you think it's time to drop your silly vision of la vie en rose?
Louise Beaudoin, the Parti Québécois' international-relations critic, said Sarkozy has "a profound lack of understanding of Quebec." Beaudoin sounds like a 14-year-old wailing that her parents just don't understand her. Oh, boo-hoo, she's going to run away from home. That'll teach 'em.
Hey, les séparatistes, you know what? The Plains of Abraham happened 250 years ago. Get over it. Yes, you got sand thrown in your eyes, but at that great metaphorical day-care centre where Canadian provinces go to indulge in childish regionalism, everyone else has left the sandbox. The separatists should take a lesson from countries whose citizens speak several languages -- Switzerland, Finland, Belgium. School children become bilingual or trilingual as a matter of course, and the constant squabbling over language that goes on in Quebec, and is enough to send anyone screaming in agony down the 401 to Ontario, doesn't happen.
As an immigrant, I love Canada. My message to the Quebec separatist movement is simple: Touche pas à mon pays and vive Nicolas Sarkozy.
Naomi Lakritz writes for the Calgary Herald.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen 9 February 2009

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