November 16, 2004

My Canada continues to include Québec, Mr. Duceppe.

Here are some of the lovely things that Gilles Duceppe, leader of Le Bloc Québécois, had to say at the Economic Club of Toronto on Friday.

"The goal of sovereignty I am pursuing is something positive and forward looking. It is not based on the rejection of Canada or Canadians. It is not a question of being better or worse than Canada. It is simply a matter of asserting our difference and making it a strength rather than a weakness." [...]

Unfortunately, this often means that Québec slows Canada down, just as Canada slows Québec down. Too often, we stand in each other's way. [...]

I am a Québec sovereignist. This doesn't keep me from appreciating Canada or from liking Canadians and, in particular, the Montréal Canadians. Especially, when they are defeating the Maples Leafs. [...]

In absence of such a partnership agreement with a Sovereign Québec, which I seriously doubt wouldn't materialize, you can be sure our neighbours in the South will hastily fill in the void. As they say on Bay Street, or as well on Wall Street : Money talks ! [...]

Of course, Québec will continue to have problems to resolve as other countries have. But we will be responsible of ourselves and won't blame Canada or any other people. [...]

For its part, Canada will finally be able to build a country of its own, as it intends to, according to its values and interests. And then, my friends, Canada shall be stronger. Québec shall be stronger. We will both be more prosperous and we will elaborate a more friendly, warmly and courteous relation. It is what I call a win - win situation."

Wow! A win-win situation? No more being slowed down? No more being blamed for somebody else's problem? A friendly, warm, and courteous relation? And, if we're lucky, we can avoid the barely-veiled economic threat! Golly gee -- where do I sign up?

Here's what I think.

I think people like Gilles Duceppe slow down both Québec and Canada as a whole.

I think it is people like Gilles Duceppe who make our "difference" a "weakness" rather than a "strength".

I think that the supposedly "positive and forward looking", "win-win" thinking advanced by Gilles Duceppe in this talk -- Canada needs to "build a country of its own, as it intends to, according to its values and interests," and then "Canada shall be stronger" and "Québec shall be stronger" -- is small-minded, old-fashioned, dangerous, and betrays a complete and fundamental lack of appreciation for and understanding of some of Canada's greatest strengths (e.g. "my Canada includes multiculturalism").

I think that it is mighty precious for Gilles Duceppe, with no intent nor hope of ever forming a federal Canadian government or having a federal record to defend, to perennially fire shots at Ottawa with such consistently contemptuous displays of self-righteous indignation.

I think the dream-world/"fait accompli" language Gilles Duceppe uses to fan the flames of separatism -- "Québeckers and Canadians", "the electors of Québec and Canada", "the governments of Québec and the provinces", and "the aeronautic industry is a success story in Québec as well as in Canada" -- is virulent, deceptive, and insulting.

I think Gilles Duceppe's insipid attempts to soften the blow of his discourse with throw-away humour and false pretenses of warm relations (the Canadiens-Maple Leafs joke, "my friends", etc.) come across as obviously disingenuous.

I think it is offensive that the website of the Bloc Québécois, one "federal" political party, exists -- you guessed it -- only in French.

And I think it is shameful that -- with the rumblings of separatism seemingly growing again -- Paul Martin's main contribution to the unity of Canada is likely to be "asymmetrical federalism."

Speaking with reporters after the talk, Mr. Duceppe apparently said "If Québec wouldn't be part of Canada, then Canadians will have to define themselves by themselves [...] Maybe they will build a stronger national culture. They don't have enough now."

Mr. Duceppe: My ample Canadian national culture includes Québec and a whole lot more, and is all the better for it. You, quite frankly, I could happily do without.

The Bloc's website has the full text of Mr. Duceppe's address in French and, surprisingly, in English .

Posted by anatole at November 16, 2004 11:45 AM