Vive la Normandie libre!

Boisclair à Paris

A leading French presidential contender believes Canada should be split in two. Segolene Royal, the candidate for France's Socialist Party, told Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair on Monday that she endorses "the sovereignty and liberty" of Quebec.
Mr. Boisclair, naturally, was delighted. ("I think the French have understood our message and are even sympathetic.") But a who's who of federalist Canadian politicians, including Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have told Ms. Royal that the future of Quebec is none of her business.
We agree that Ms. Royal's comments were regrettable, rude and misguided. But there is one consolation: Her breach of diplomatic protocol removes the countervailing taboo that has long prevented Canadians from commenting on internal affairs in France. And so now, we are finally at liberty to say publicly what millions in Canada have long been thinking: Vive la Normandie libre!
Normandy, as it is known in English, is a large coastal region in northern France that, for centuries, has been occupied by France. The international community recognizes Normandy as sovereign French territory. But the National Post does not.
With 3.2 million inhabitants, Normandy is more populous than several European countries. Its proud history as a distinct political entity goes back to the era of the Vikings, who controlled the territory in the Middle Ages as an independent fiefdom. Like so many other peoples besieged by colonial oppressors, the Normans were made a plaything of great powers -- batted back and forth between the French and the English in the 14th and 15th centuries.
As letter-writer Kenneth T. Tellis argues on the facing page, the French often ignore the unique history and culture of the country's various regions. Yet the plucky Normans have retained their distinctive character nonetheless. To this day, many speak their distinctive Norman language and frolic in the lush bocage that covers much of the territory. When it comes time for the trou normand, they feast on the many fine cheeses, oysters and scallops native to the region.
There is no doubt the Normand culture is proud and ancient. But how long can it survive under the French jackboot? Is it not time for the Normands to seize "the sovereignty and liberty" that is their ancient birthright? Let it be shouted from the rooftops: "Vive la Normandie libre! Vive la Normandie Normande!"

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