Memo to Gilles Duceppe and Pauline Marois: Grumbling that Quebec is part
of Canada makes you look ridiculous. Win a referendum, or at least form a
government, before you complain about France giving a proper diplomatic
reception to the governor-general of Canada.
It's quite a spectacle, Marois and Duceppe popping and fizzing over
Michaëlle Jean's conquest of official Paris this week. It seems to be more
than they can bear. No wonder: That a francophone immigrant woman can hold
the vice-regal office is an eloquent testimonial to the openness,
inclusiveness and flexibility of Canadian federal democracy. Marois and
Duceppe might have preferred a slap in the face with a dead fish to the
enthusiasm for Her Excellency, and for Canada, reflected in the news from
Look closely at that news. The G-G is greeted with high honours, takes the
media by storm, has a long chat with President Nicolas Sarkozy, reminds him
of one million francophones in Canada outside Quebec "fighting to save
their language and their culture" and invites him to remember them in his
dealings with Canada.
This affair cuts to the core of sovereignist mythology: France is our
overseas friend, our ace in the hole. When the Glorious Day dawns, France
will quickly rally to our cause, and the rest of the world will follow.
This has been an article of sovereignist faith ever since Charles de
Gaulle's pompous pronunciamento at Montreal City Hall.
To see this cherished belief punctured by Sarkozy's new orientation in
relations with Canada, and that change marked by a Quebecer in federal
office, must be bitter. Nor does it help that Her Excellency has displayed
her usual grace and charm. (Canada is lucky to have her in the job. Paul
Martin, who had her appointed, deserves credit for an inspired choice.)
Duceppe and Marois claim that celebrating the 400th anniversary of the
founding of Quebec is an event purely for Quebec and France, in which
Canada should have no role, except of course to pay many of the bills.
Nonsense. As Stephen Harper noted, "the founding of Quebec City is also
the founding of the Canadian state. The governor-general is today's
successor of Samuel de Champlain, the first governor of Canada."
That Quebec is part of Canada, and an important part, is anathema to
sovereignists. But we can't help it if reality is federalist.
France welcomes our G-G - to the dismay of some
Duceppe and Marois claim that celebrating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec is an event purely for Quebec and France, in which Canada should have no role, except of course to pay many of the bills.