If you burn a flag in Quebec, it had better be a Maple Leaf

Wong article become a national affair, but attacks on Canada are treated as routine

Affaire Jan Wong et The Globe and Mail

Jan Wong now knows how the pope feels. Both stirred up a hornet's net. He quoted a derogatory comment about the Prophet Mohammed. She bad-mouthed Quebec. He provoked a cacophony of mullahs and salahs, she a clamouring posse of pundits and politicians, out to defend Quebec's honour.
Wong's Globe and Mail article of Sept. 16 “reconstructed' the scene of Kimveer Gill's Dawson College carnage. She also evoked Quebec's ‘infamous language laws,' which supposedly explained why each shooter was an immigrant, ‘not pure laine.' She added: ‘Elsewhere, to talk of racial ‘purity' is repugnant. Not in Quebec.'
No facts were offered to support her astounding statement, which never should have been published. Clearly, it called for rebuttal. Instead, it touched off a firestorm of indignation commensurate with the fall of the angels or the assault on the innocent at Dawson. Raised to the rank of ‘affaire', it proved the bad faith of Quebec's treatment in Canada; it even raised questions about whether Quebec should separate.
In Le Devoir, an editorial judged : ‘The Globe contributes to the insidious was which the Toronto rpess has been waging against Quebec's demands ever since the failure of the last referendum.'
In The Gazette, columnist Josée Legault wrote : ‘Most Quebecers have had their fill of prejudiced comments from the likes of Wong, expressed over tinme against them, their institutions and their laws.'
La Presse editorialist-in-chief André Pratte wrote his fourth editorial on the subject and questioned the Globe's claim to be Canada's national newspaper. La Presse ran a letter from Senator Michael Fortier to the Globe's publisher : ‘With respect, I think that your newspaper failed in its duty.'
A letter to the editor announced that the writer was a staunch federalist, ‘But articles like those of Jan Wong make me dream that if Quebec became independent some day, she could be declared a persona non grata, and that would be great!”
La Presse columnist Vincent Marissal began : ‘After reading the stream of sinsults toward Quebec in the Toronto newspapers, a question comes spontaneously to mind: just imagine what horrors our Canadian friends would write about us if we were independent.'
For journalists to engage in polemics, fair enough. But a line is crossed when politicians involve the state. Premier Jean Charest, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, several Quebec cabinet ministers and party leaders and even Lieutenant-Governor Lise Thibault all assailed the reporter. To its shame, the House of Commons adopted, without debate and without dissent, this motion : ‘That, in the opinion of the House, an apology be given to the people of Quebec for the offensive remarks of Ms. Jan Wong in a Globe and Mail article regarding the recent Dawson College tragedy'.
A misguided newspaper article was raised to thelevel of a national issue. Its provocative sentences recweived the widest possible publicity. Will politicians raise an equivalent hue and cry when, as happens recurrently, Quebec's journalists, novelists, poets, film-makers, playwrights, song-writers utter hostile remarks about Canadians and Canada, which is an enduring literary tradition?
Josée Legault once wrote a column in Le Devoir with the headline: [‘Ein Volk, ein Reich...ein Flag'->2265] - the slogan of Adolf Hitler's party. She suggested Ottawa was a replica of the Nazi regime: ‘All along the Confederation Boulevard, a ring which physically forges together Ottawa and Hull - sad symbol of Hull's geopolitical annexation - you would almost think you were in Munich in 1938.' Should the Commons have passed a motion of censure against this appropriation of the 1938 Anschluss - the annexation - of Austria by Hitler? Absurd.
There is a flagrant double standard. Attacking Canada and English-speaking Canadians is routine. It's even a founding duty of the Parti Québéois and the Bloc Québécois in their campain to get Quebecers to secede. But attacking Quebec? That's lèse-Québec, an unspeakable desecration that no politician or pundit can condome.
PQ leader André Boisclair compared the Globe article to the ‘affaire' of the 1989 trampling of the Quebec flag in Brockville. The parallel is worth considering.
Led by a transplanted English-speaking Quebecer, six members of the anti-bilingual Association for the Preservation of English in Canada decided to protest against Quebec's language law. As they explained afterward, they had noticed that separatists attracted the television cameras when they burned a Canadian flag. So, when Premier David Peterson was to visit Brockville accompanied by the news media, these outsiders came to stage their trampling of the fleur-de-lis.
Amid the tensions over Meech Lake, that footage was replayed innumerable times on Quebec's TV stations. Horror, frenzy, swept the province. This revealed the naked face of English Canada, as journalist Jean-François Lisée and others wrote. Brockville became a synonym for lèse-Quebec.
Back on July 1, 1971, I covered as a reporter in Montreal an anti-Canada demonstration by 2,500 separatists. My news report concluded ; ‘When the speeches had ended, many young people called out their disappointment. The only action had been the burning of a Maple Leaf flag. Then, as now, burning a Canadian flag was routine, hardly news. Desecrating Quebec or its flag is lèse-Québec and a sacrilege.

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  • Laurent Desbois Répondre

    7 octobre 2006

    Madame Jan Wong,
    Globe and Mail
    Ni hao ma?
    Plusieurs francophones hors Québec se sont suicidés!
    Plusieurs francophones hors Québec se sont suicidés, par désespoir, à cause du sort de le Canada réservait à leur population, à cause de l'assimilation linguistique et culturel de leur population, à cause du mensonge de Trudeau, auquel ils avaient raison de ne pas y croire. La preuve de ce mensonge est malheureusement là aujourd'hui!
    Il y en a un que j'ai très bien connu. Nous avons fait notre secondaire ensemble. Ce franco-ontarien s'est suicidé. Il y a de cela trente ans. Il avait à peine trente ans. La fleur de l'âge. Plusieurs de ses pièces furent publiées chez l'éditeur Prise de Parole. Son désespoir et son mal pour sa communauté sont bien documentés dans ses pièces.
    Je vous laisse juger avec ce passage de la pièce «LAVALLÉVILLE» :
    «Oui Je sens que mon pays
    Ne vivra plus, plus tellement longtemps
    Oui Mon pays démuni
    Je l'ai connu
    Je l'ai connu longtemps
    Et quand je pense à tous les bons moments
    J'ai envie d'y rester
    Mais quand je pense à tous ce temps perdu
    Je dois m'en aller
    Oui je sens que mon pays
    Ne vivra plus, plus tellement longtemps»
    par André Paiement
    Laurent Desbois
    Longueuil (Québec)
    Fier Québécois, Ex-francophone hors-Québec.
    Je suis aussi Canadian... sur papiers seulement