Until August, my name was completely unknown to most of Quebec's francophones. On Aug. 9, that all changed with my National Post column titled "[The Rise of Quebecistan.->1510]" Suddenly, I was Quebec's most hated anglophone.
In that column, I castigated the four Quebec politicians who first endorsed, then marched in solidarity with overtly anti-Israel Hezbollah supporters. I mused that, given the historical patterns of Quebec's left-wing intellectual and political elites, an independent Quebec might become propitious terrain for Islamist sympathizers seeking a non-judgmental nesting ground.
From the francophone media's subsequent mass swoon of horror, you'd think I was the first person ever to level such charges. In fact, the moral relativism of Quebec's elites had not only been treated in the francophone press before my commentary appeared, but far more harshly.
Here, for example, is what Jean Renaud, editorial director of Egards ("the review of the conservative resistance"), concluded in a Le Devoir op-ed, "The Stupidity of Our Elites," published July 31, nine days before my column appeared:
"In its de facto choice of Hezbollah, the Quebecois elite, stupefied as much as stupefying, has placed itself at the right hand of civilization's enemies. The Quebecois, who no longer kneel before God, are visibly ready to prostrate themselves before terrorists. This propensity to invite, to cajole, to support and flatter throat-cutters is preparing us ... for a literally disastrous future. Nowhere in [North] America is a renewal of our elites more urgent than in Quebec." (my translation)
A more aggressive writer, novelist and polemicist Maurice Dantec, wrote an article for Egards, "Bienvenue au Quebeckistan," weeks before "The Rise of Quebecistan" appeared in the Post. In it, he warns Quebec against becoming another "Frankistan":
"When your cities are invaded by the same mobs as those who are burning 200 cars a day in France even as I speak, when Hezbollah militias, quite legally (ah, this Charter of Rights of the Bedouin and of the Liberties of the Terrorist!) are authorized to patrol [the streets] with your police forces, when your writers (if any remain) get assassinated in the street -- as in the Netherlands -- when ... the Cross on Mount Royal must be withdrawn from the view of decent Montreal Muslims so as not to 'shock' their sensibility, when Israel has disappeared in a huge festive movement uniting Communist scum with fascistoidal pseudo-nationalist cretins, capitulating dyed-in-the-wool liberals, sovereigntists without a sovereign, and the post-leftists feeding on Noam Chomsky's dog food or the animated cartoons of Michael Moore, then you will find yourself absolutely alone." (my translation)
Them's fighting words! You'll never see their like in the English press: We'd be terrified -- and justifiably so, as who should know better than I -- of the backlash.
Maurice Dantec's new novel, Grande Jonction, a work of "metaphysical fiction," was featured at the recent Salon du Livre in Montreal. A self-described exile from France, where his right wing views are unpopular, Dantec is a controversial figure, a former leftist who converted to muscular Catholicism three years ago and now fulminates against the disastrous consequences of multiculturalism a la Mark Steyn (same courage and bold candour, but more truculence, less humour). In person he is scruffy, broody, intense; Dantec's brilliant prose kneads and pummels the same topics -- the moral decline of the West, the ineluctable spread of Islamofascism -- that preoccupy Steyn.
My disagreeable tenure as the cynosure of Quebec's media educated me. Messrs. Renaud and Dantec's savage indictments of Quebec's moral relativism excited approximately zero editorial reaction in the French press. That's because Renaud and Dantec worked within the code: Say anything you want about Quebec, as long as it's in French. I took flak because I broke the code.
Few Canadians know there is any conservative francophone voice in Quebec, let alone a vehicle for intellectual and moral reform of such dynamism and high intelligence as the anti-statist Egards. If you read French, visit www.egards.qc.ca. Egards is Catholicism-inspired but non-confessional in its objectives. Classic liberals and modern conservatives will find much to admire in the intellectual rigour and eloquence of Egards' contributors.
A thought for foundations or the whimsically wealthy: Funds donated to make the shoestring-budget Egards a bilingual review for all Canadians to enjoy would serve as a welcome, healthy check on the self-righteous complacency of Quebec's cultural elites.