From the Plains of Abraham to Abraham Lincoln

with 201 comments

250e quebec

There are two schools of thought in Québec when it comes to the historical significance of the British conquest of 1759.  The so-called Montréal school of thinkers consider it was a historical, economic and social tragedy that stunted the development of French-canadian culture and society.  According to the Québec school of thought it spared Québec from the chaos and violence of the French Revolution and gave it access to British government and democracy.

I’m more partial to the second school’s interpretation.  The conquest did result in two centuries of rule by a lunatic papist theocracy propped up by a cotery of racist British robber-barons, but at the end of the day, we’re still here, we’re still speaking French and we can only imagine how much bloodier things would’ve been if New France had been conquered by the Spaniards or the Dutch.

The conquest was a thing.  It happened.  What are you gonna do about it?

We’ll I know at least one thing I wouldn’t do about it is celebrate it.

Yet, that’s exactly what Québec City is getting ready to do.

The National Battlefields Commission is organizing a full-scale re-enactment of both the battle and the siege of Québec this summer to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the British Conquest of New France.

I get it.  The whole thing is historically-minded.  There’s going to be conferences by scholars.  The website says they are ‘marking’ the anniversary, not having a party.  The poster for the event shows two smiling generals shaking hands and the program includes a comedy cabaret with Wolfe and Montcalm impersonators.

Yet you have to be seriously clueless to think that a full-scale re-enactment of the mother of all of Québec’s many historical traumas and unresolved ‘issues’ is going to go down without drama.  Come on!  It was only a few months ago that some people nearly lost it because Paul McCartney went on the Plains to sing in English!

The Réseau de Résistance des Québécois and filmmaker Pierre Falardeau have already given the organisers an ultimatum: “This is why the Réseau de Résistance du Québécois (RRQ) is as of now on the war path, to be ready to get into action on the 15th of February if the said commission does not back down by then and announce the cancellation of the event.”

I can already imagine the the battalion of Jeunes Patriotes with flags and gaz masks charging the middle aged suburban Americans in tights playing the role of the british troops.  Maybe Amir Khadir will attack the Wolfe impersonator with his shoes.

This said, I do think they have a point. The Conquest is a very emotional and significant historical event.  In the country with the Occident’s strongest and best organized secessionist movement, you’d think people would take that into consideration.

Compare this to the emotionally charged and masterfully played lead up to Barack Obama’s inauguration.  This week we saw the president-elect re-enact the train trip Abraham Lincoln took to Washington on the eve of the Civil War and a massive concert was held in front of the Lincoln monument where Martin Luther King gave the most famous american speech ever.  All of this evokes slavery, civil war and segregation, but in the context of the the first black president’s swearing in, America is actually creating a brand new historical moment.  A moment of reconciliation.

Over here the Canadian government thinks it can defuse the memory of the Conquest by treating it like the emotional equivalent of the war of the Peloponese and turning it into a vaudeville.  This is the opposite of what the Americans are doing.  This is trivializing the past. It is disrespecting the many Québécois who still have the memory of the consequences of the Conquest stuck in their throats.

Next year: the re-enactment of the American Indian genocide!

Written by angryfrenchguy

January 18, 2009 at 8:51 pm

201 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. @ antonio

    “They should get a life and leave Quebec alone.”

    Totally agree with you on this…and Quebec should stay out of anything in the ROC. Although with Duceppe and his coalition attempts…appears this is not the case.

    I totally agree with you that Quebec should separate from the ROC…Would be better for both sides..and should be done sooner than later..

    So, you see, I am on your side.



    January 24, 2009 at 1:40 am

  2. GCL,

    Did you have to reprint the whole article and use up space and bandwidth…Everyone here can click on a link.

    If you going to do this you should likely copy the whole article and not just parts of it.



    January 24, 2009 at 1:53 am

  3. @Antonio!

    Quel citron si jaune … t’as là! C’est tellement doux son jus!

    Que de bonheur a c’t’heure!

    Que travail tu as fait pour m’apprender des choses! C’est tout à l’heure pour moi comme la vie en rose.

    La vérité, tout grâce de ton bonté,(j)’reçois.

    Je t’serai toujours bien reconnaissant,
    (tant d’erreurs les gens comme moi, ils souvent font),

    Quand j’tais d’emblée au monde,’y d’sai’ que chus pas né Québécois!

    (Avec tous mes excuses aux Muses, aux Pléiades, et au Michel Tremblay.)


    January 24, 2009 at 2:19 am

  4. Aiiiieeee! tout le monde!

    Holy freekin’ already dead (?Cajun cat?)-fish, shot to hell just once more to be damn good and sure in in a barrel!

    Crashed and Burned dans une façon glaciale!

    Nice use of the F word! GCL, slides off your introductory tongue in salubrious fashion!

    Way to go dude!

    Flippin’ out at bedtime!

    Comme ta frasque est tant chouette!

    Hey there, Red Bull! — Burn, baby, burn! … and try to slake that throat parched over like Death Valley in the shade, right up there at 138 dugrees Fahrenheit!

    J’ai soif, J’ai soif!

    Au secours! Au secours, quelqu’un!

    Au voleur! Au voleur! Qui a volé mon Red Bull!

    Des meurtriers! Arrête! Arrête!

    — when hell freezes over it’ll be nice, right out of the ice!

    OH God,.. Mon Dieu que OUI! Taureau Roux sur glaces mmmmmmmm, tellement bon qu’y est! C’est tant de paradis sur terre!

    So lets all go crack a real cold one! Let’s party baby!

    C’est bien frette à c’t’heure! Ahhhh! ‘Zis Red Bull en français — queque chose de rare!

    Écrasement glaciale! Apportez vos patins!

    Toute la planête va en fête! Vas y fou tout le monde!

    El Toro Rosso es muy machismo, pienso — porque no El Toro Rojo? porque no Taureau de Tête Roux Maniaque?

    Ça serait quelquechose d’extraordinare!

    Bravo mes braves hommes tellement braves!

    Sorry guys, I’m just not seeing red over this!

    Maybe my sleepless red eye is not seeing eye to eye over this burning, icy emergency KRASH “issue d’urgence sans issue” that has those italian executive types tout rougissants avec un grand oeil au beurre!

    You’re all right here. I’m on everyone’s side on this one.

    Good call everyone!

    Oh Fuck it! I should just pull a GCL here and go of to bed after all.

    De bons rêves mes ami(e)S.


    January 24, 2009 at 3:15 am

  5. ABP,

    You sly indépendentist you!! (Venez des anglais ‘de souche’, sans aucun doute… et possiblement de la sorte maudite, j’estime!)

    Pardon me sir, but methinks your most sincere tongue is deforming one of your cheeks!
    (Regarde-toi dans ta glace!)

    Should you feel however that you have a pretty good point here ..y’think..? Pis écoute-moi et ferme ta’smartass’ bouche, and let you give you fair notice:

    Chus pas à côté de ton rhétorique! Mais c’est bien admirable! Tu as fort bien maîtrisé l’art de mettre en scène de très bon théâtre!

    Très bien fait, m’sieur!

    (but lighten up too, guy,.. cuz … le Canada va y être un poco ‘aburido’ sin Québec.

    Without which, how would we, you and I, spend our sleepless nights?

    Would we then have to move on with our vapid lives, out to Seattle, that town of THE coffee company? I smell burnt caffeine already!

    So here’s a little one-act dialogue that becomes a monologue called “SEATTLE COFFEE COMPANY”

    (Please forgive me you franco guys, (and Edward) for doing this, cuz it’s not aimed at any of you, or any of your comrades)

    (Didiscalie — Three years in the future from now, a relative new arrival from West Island Montréal stops in for coffee at Starbucks in Seattle, striking up a little conversation with the friendly American server)

    “I’ll have a double latte ‘Obama’ please, and make that with cinnamon-almonde. $9.87 ?? …oh Mercy! That’s just terrific!

    .. Where did I pick up French? … Oh thank you for noticing! I used to be Quénadien y’know!

    Oh and have a good one yourself!.. hey, looks like it’s going to rain again ..

    …gawd how I miss the snow back in Mon’réal … but it’s all good anyhow, now that I got my new job here.. makin those cool new Boeing stealthy bombers…

    ..”From O bomba with love”… Yeah , I know what y’all mean …

    fantastic how the Prez’s guys did a 180 on the economy …
    … too bad though about Pakistan and the Gaza strip…

    well at least its got morale round here juiced up a bit! … Oh you are SO right on that one dude!

    They were cruisin’ for a bruisin’ !! Don’t mess with US flyboys!! …

    Yeah, I know … and Canada stayed out of that one…

    … Well they can keep their friggin back bacon back up there too… the friggin’ terrorist lovin pansies …

    D’ya hear that Qu´bec Libre got a piece of the action though?

    Yeah… Bombardier … yeah they’re real big, even over in Ireland I hear! I think maybe their name had something to do with it, Bombardier …yeah kinda sounds like they know the ropes,… although I heard that up in Q. Libre its polarising people … demonstrations, manifestos…. Yeah there this Khadir guy up there like in their local “state house” stirrin’ the pot, I heard…

    Well it sure is a crazy world. Thank’s for the ‘fix’… help me stay up to keep in touch tonight with my ‘demented’ blog buddies….up North ya know, where it’s still snowing the white stuff … Gotta go soon.. Be seein’ya round I reckon… oh BTW … Don’t forget your change here…

    Oh Mercy oncore! … Tim’s back in the Plateau used to charge me in Quénuck bucks but I got .05 back up there… trouble is, down here .05 Quénuck ain’t worth toilet paper!

    Say your French is just awsome!. What’s that ‘On Core’ part again?

    Oh that.. yeah… ya know I was ‘West Island’, and it’s getting rusty a bit now. I think it’s the French way to say Anchor .. y’know. they have this real cute accent.. Anchor…On core…encore, whatever… ..

    … yeah after the big dust up at the citadelle, … I think this sado-weirdo redcoat Brit soldier guy dropped his Anchor there in the Quebec River, lemme see, way back around 17.. something, I kinda forget, and now they do this little re-enactment thing …mostly rich Americans, actually… The Canucks took a pass on that one too,… those losers!

    What a bunch of whining losers! Like we were proud Montrealers, and they were just losers….the English outside didn’t even try to understand what we were up against.

    ‘On core’.. Anway its like … you know … when they do an extra little number at the end of the school pageant about the battle of Quebec, and the sailors and whatnot, and the kids come out in their redingotes and their cute little anchors, y’know the ones who who were the sailors for this Wolf guy who was like Captain Hook, and the moms say to their little guys.. “What a great Anchor!”, but you know , like with the french accent .. like Encore…

    Like you say that a lot when you says thanks in Quebec, but like in the West Island, we didn’t know what it really meant, we just copied it, and like its always that you’re saying thanks, but not the very first time you say thanks.

    When you get more friendly… y’know,.. then I think the ‘Anchor’ symbolises that, after Mercy, and you say that…. Like Mercy Anchor, like I was just showing you how it’s done.

    Like it’s a ‘distinct culture’ thing, y’know what I’m saying? … But the problem was like, in Canada, like in Ottawa and that part, like they didn’t care about us, like us I mean we learned English right there in Quebec, and those other Canuck so and so’s, they didn’t give diddly squat whether we got anchors shoved right down our throats.

    And like the signs, y’know, like they were all like Chinese! like, except Chinese spelled the french way though, … I mean I couldn’t figure them out!

    I mean in Ontario they had some Greek signs and stuff, I couldn’t read them either, but we only went to greektown once….it’s like called Toronto.

    So like I couldn’t read any of the signs in Montréal except like, unless you looked at the small print, but like people with short vision, it wasn’t easy to get around, take it from me! Then the maps were in French too, so we had to stay home after school. That pretty much sealed the deal. We were pretty much surrounded.

    My dad said we were out of there if there was a 3rd vote. He said we would be forced to ask for a hot dog in French at the big O, and there was no way we could do that that, cuz the Quebec guys don’t understand “h”, so it it wouldn’t even be ‘H’ot , like you know a hot dog that’s not really ‘h’..ot is not so hot!

    My mom said that after they changed the big sign at Eaton’s, cuz it didn’t belong to Mr. Eaton any more anyhow, those big fat sales ladies were let go cuz they were too fat. So after that things got kind of gross, and you couldn’t buy stuff anymore at Eaton, cuz they didn’t speak properly.

    Some people got mad, and called some new French neighbours on our street some English bad words, but I don’t know what they mean … like ‘Fastest’for example, like my mom said if you’re ‘fastest’ it’s like kind of a a complement.

    So I don’t understand why some people think that ‘fastest’ is such a bad word! Like Jacques Villeneuve, now I mean, like that cat was for SURE the fastest guy in all of Quebec, so I don’t know why being the ‘fastest’ is so bad?

    Like so our new neighbours said Bon Jure! and that’s easy to know ,like, it’s, like, ‘hello there’ in french, which is just polite.

    So it was pretty cool to meet them and all, and then my uncle went and said to them ,

    ‘Hello yourself, you’re the new ‘fastest’ on the block.’

    So I though he was being really friendly too.

    And then they like just turned kind of white, and then red, and like really ticked off looking, and they never said Bon Jure ever again to anybody, so they just couldn’t get along I guess.

    But kriss de calvaire de hostie de calice de tabernak!

    I mean that’s the only French I really know, and I can’t explain it to you, cuz it’s pretty insulting, especially to Jesus.

    So I mean like here in the US, we are united under God, and we wouldn’t say stuff like that to Jesus!

    So that’s what I mean, why are they so sensitive about ‘fastest’? Like this girl in high school was proud of it! Some girls were pretty ‘fast’, and what not, but she was the champion, and some of the French guys were hanging out with her too. I guess its Ok for English to be ‘fastest’ but not the French. I guess that’s why they admired her so much.

    But I mean like, why are they so friggin’ sensitive?

    FIN (Tombe le rideau)

    Café Insomnia!


    January 24, 2009 at 5:48 am

  6. i thought of a fellow who lives in toronto this morning – a commercial artist in toronto i used to work with years ago on a contract/project basis. he used to get all dressed up and participate in north american colonial style re-enactments. at the time i thought – “to each his own.”

    he said it was a way for him and the wife to travel and meet new people. the last time i saw him was on a sidewalk at orly in paris. i hadn’t seen him for at least a dozen years and he called out my name. what are the chances – a gazillion to one?

    i’ll bet he still gets dressed up and he’s going to quebec city this summer.

    i’m still not going.


    January 24, 2009 at 4:41 pm

  7. Didn’t get a chance to read everything that was written here… but since I first heard about this, I’ve been wondering why this is turning into a circus… Are we so insecure, in Quebec, that we can’t even tolerate our own history? I mean… that battle DID happen 250 years ago, right? Are we going to take it off history books in school so that our kids won’t be traumatized by the fact that their ancestors (if they’re from French decent) lost that battle? Is that how low we want to sink?

    I’m totally amazed that the politician that made the most sense on this issue was from the ADQ! People need to grow up: whether you are separatist or not, whether you’re happy or not that the FRENCH ARMY lost, it still did happen, it is still part of our history. Nobody is talking about a celebration here. Nobody is going to shoot fireworks when the ENGLISH ARMY wins that battle once again during the re-enactment. That battle happened. The French lost, and it defined what would become of America, as a continent. It is important. Is is relevant. And historically speaking, it will be interesting to see. So where’s the problem? We can’t show the truth of what happened because it might offend some people? How immature are we, as a people?

    I heard people on TV barking out, in derision, something like “Do the Jews celebrate the gaz chambers of WWII?!”. No, your jerks, they don’t celebrate it. But they don’t forget. They take minutes of silences. They commemorate the events with historical pictures and documentaries. They don’t hide it away for fear of shame.

    The Battle of the Plaine d’Abraham will be COMMEMORATED (which is note a synonym of CELEBRATED) by a re-enactment. If the outcome displeases you, don’t go. Mourn over it, shead a few tears from the comfort of your home. But be mature enough to put your paranoia and susceptibility to sleep.


    January 24, 2009 at 11:24 pm

  8. “What hangs by a thread…Canada would continue quite well (actually likely better off) without Quebec according to many…Some in Quebec seem to feel this way as well for a sovereign nation of Quebec. Doom and gloom, I don’t think so..”

    Note that I said “Canada as we know it”. The Canada that we know has 10 provinces, one of which is Quebec. You may feel differently, but for most people in the ROC, Quebec, at least symbolically (I’ve already gone on enough about how they generally don’t know that much about it) is an integral part of their country that they can’t envision ever not being part of Canada.


    January 24, 2009 at 11:36 pm

  9. “Wasn’t Levesque the Quebecois Obama?”

    Well, some people may think so, but if you look at it from a results-based perspective (for those people who want Quebec independence), I guess he wasn’t. Stuff like Obamamania is as much about timing as it is about charisma and vision. Obama at another time in American history might have fallen flat. Lévesque in 1995, when the Québécois were both angrier and much more self-confident than in 1980, might have pulled it off.

    Politics is very much about jumping through windows of opportunity. Since we talk about national independence here a lot, it’s worth considering that a lot of places that have become independent in recent decades weren’t constantly chomping at the bit to go out on their own. What most had in common, though, was consistently-active nationalist movements and a national identity that perhaps took some hits over the years but never really faded away.

    Then, at some point, the stars aligned themselves, a “window” in history opened up, and independence just sort of happened. In most cases, there really wasn’t anything resembling the constant build-up of an unstoppable force that we often imagine is an essential prerequisite for these things.


    January 24, 2009 at 11:51 pm

  10. bruce at 5:48 am:

    You are the man!


    January 25, 2009 at 12:01 am

  11. Yes, Quebec is an integral part of Canada at this time.. And you might be correct about the feelings of most people in the ROC. I have my thoughts which only reflect one person..which is that Quebec should be an equal partner to the other 9 you mention which consitute our confederation. I hear more and more, however, that the special treatment ( or demands etc) of Quebec are irritating a great deal of those in the ROC (silly way of putting it as this in itself creates a divide..I thought Canada was a country comprised of 10 regional and equal provinces including Quebec, not Quebec and the other nine provinces…AKA the ROC)

    Therein lies the problem…Quebec feels that in fact they are not part of Canada due to their differing culture and language. The other 9 provinces (one could argue that NB is closer than most to Quebec) find it hard to identify with a province that is not fully integrated into the country, as a whole and is perceived as forcing their cultural and linguistic preferences on the others.

    And the arguments go round and round, just as the wheels of the bus go round and round, round and round.

    In essence, separatism is a symptom of the problem that exists between Quebec and the other provinces. Not likely a solution as I do think that it would lead to immense problems for both..Not that the problems could not be overcome at the end of the day.

    The problem it would create is perhaps who would be the eventual winner, as all things seem to come down to a competition fueled by ego and retribution (just as 250 years ago) . I have said this before..the divorce would not be a pleasant experience for either.

    If need be, however, to save one or the other it may become a necessary evil, depending upon the political current.

    The coming bad times, (yes , they will get a lot worse..sorry to by a cynical, just reality) will test our current situation to the limit. Will be interesting as to the eventual outcome. Poor economy and harsh times tend to bring on irrational behaviours as we have seen by past history. (small example is where will any transfer payments be generated when there is negative GDP…I guess from deficit budgets…this opens another question..who should be responsible for the debt…what region…those that generate more debt or those that receive less ??…you get the idea)

    BTW, you still have not responded to my question as to what you think are the arguments against Quebec separation.

    Bonne nuit,



    January 25, 2009 at 12:37 am

  12. A strong case for those who oppose the commemoration of the battle of the Plains of Abraham was written by Christian Rioux of Le Devoir:

    For those who don’t read French, here’s a taste:

    “Any normal country would rather re-enact the victory of the Patriots at St-Denis or the insurrection led by Mackenzie in Toronto in 1837. That’s the canadian misunderstanding right there. If Canada prefers to commemorate a colonial conquest, it is because it still perceives itself as the heir of this long gone Empire, not of those who fought it.”



    January 25, 2009 at 12:40 am

  13. it will be interesting to see if the upper canada’s firebrand exploits will be commemorated/re-enacted/celebrated in the year 2087.

    i will not be going to that one either (if it takes place).

    m.rioux’s “strong case” for those who oppose the commemoration falls short in his caricature that tenderly identifies people (who are not vocally or actively opposed) as unthinking, self-deluded, latter-day colonialists about to succumb to some euro/american academic virus known as “vivre l’événement” en “temps réel”.

    i’ve heard worse descriptions of political adversaries. where was the cartoon of an ancient emaciated bulldog sporting a tattered union jack?

    but i do think it was a nice touch that france’s aircraft carrier c de g was sent to the 2005 bicentennial of trafalgar. and a good thing that old boney’s war-mongering and imperial ambitions were seriously crippled.


    January 25, 2009 at 4:17 am

  14. @Johnny,

    Have read your link to Mark Helprin., and all that hubris of the flowery poet-soldier, scholar-flyboy, republican contributing editor to the Wall Street Journal, high-purpose of Godliness, nation, virtue and “self sacrifice” circa 1998!

    Bit of a Republican shill with the old silver spoon in his mouth and mightly self impressed, if you ask me.

    Anyhow Lester Pearson was for me, the Truman of our times as far as Canada as a whole. A peace-maker.

    René Levesque was Québec’s great man, visionary, statescraft man, democrat, humble and courageous broker of change and aspirations of a vibrant french society in Quebec, realised, within his mandates. All pretty much except for formal sovereignty itself.

    Bouchard was the ‘charisma’ guy who nearly pulled it off, and shocked Canada to within a millimetre of its existence.

    But then he had a ‘virage’. Something like realising that the economics of the ‘project’ weren’t going to translate well by the calculus of felicity — in other words, it wasn’t going to be a bed of roses after all — so he chose eventual discretion over fiery valor.

    Duceppe seems level headed enough — he, I think, realises that the full economic self sufficiency of Quebec is the ‘necessary condition’.

    At a basic level that is there, but not sufficient for the current programs in place — the 7 dollar daycare etc, which is wonderful, (and I approve of it), but it is not “fully funded” by current economic output.

    The regions are cyclic resource based revenues, and highly vulnerable. It is doubtful hydro alone can fund eveything to which Québec aspires.

    Cooler heads know the province isn’t currently able to sustain the program costs from current revenues … therefore debt is rising, and will be worse under the looming recession/?despression.

    Quebec needs to be an economic powerhouse firing on all cylinders for a politican to be able to walk through that ‘window of opportunity’ If they even wanted to at that point.

    Politically of course, anything could happen at any time. A charismatic “poet-politician-pan-the-pied piper” could emerge out of nowhere and galvanise the populace into a sudden rupture.

    Would that be an act of true statesmanship leading to a better state of affairs and a better society?

    (Rhetorical question.)

    It’s nice to say that total independence would galvanise every Québécois to be more entrepreneurial, productive and self-sufficient. Maybe, but Québec already possesses virtual independence, and is not a total economic powerhouse. Nor is Ontario these days for that matter. Even Alberta is going to have a deficit.

    It is not going to be a bed of roses in Canada or in Québec.

    All we can do is celebrate what we already have, and honour the cultures and patrimonies we enjoy, jointly and separately. The majority of franco Québecers and also of allos and angros are reasonably level headed.

    Pure wool isn’t everything and re-enactments are seen as a nod to history and to good tourism.

    As for Red Bull, its just an international trade mark, and in my view all the furor about crashed ice is just that … a bit of BS that keeps the presses humming on a slow news cycle.

    For sure, the francos who attend should enjoy the event in French, no one is expecting them to switch to English when exclaiming the excitements of the day.

    But the event itself is international and is an economic opportunity, and Quebec City excels in promoting itself as an exciting international destination, and thrives because of it. Good on you Jean Pelletier. Tributes well deserved.

    Perhaps Sophie Beaupre misses a little of the bigger picture in her political correctness!

    Of course if the province was a country, …. then there would be the ‘maturity’ …. I am sure, that something like this would be a total non-issue…..

    It would be more like, do we want to welcome events, or… no-thanks!… it’s not politically correct enough!, … so let the 85,000 revelers just stay home …. Tough cookies, Quebec City! … just use deficit financing to make up the loss….

    Anyhow, as you keep saying Johnny, I too won’t be attending either event, neither the nod to history one in costumes, or the Maniac Taureau Rouge krashing icily down the falaise….

    Ayez un très bon dimanche tout le monde.


    January 25, 2009 at 7:01 am

  15. LOL. Mort de Rire!

    I just noticed my typo above, in referring to the anglos as the “angros”

    The ‘francos’ and the ‘angros’.

    Maybe the ‘fr-angros’ and the ‘angros’

    And then, with Antonio, we have the ‘all-angros’

    What a brew! Angros, Allangros and Québéfrangros. No wonder everyone is so steamed up!

    Anger therapy anyone?

    My smile for the day,… but kinda sad anyhow.


    January 25, 2009 at 7:13 am

  16. bruce,

    thanks for having a look at it anyway – his credentials are all genuine.

    here’s another mainstream media opinion on 1759-2009:


    January 25, 2009 at 8:08 am

  17. Idea: How about a reenactment of the Battle of Fort Carillon instead?

    The people who go in for reenactments could put on their uniforms and shoot off their muskets, the people who like watching that sort of thing could bring their picnic baskets, and no Québécois national trauma would be conjured up, as Fort Carillon was a French and Canadien victory over a superior Anglo-American force.


    January 25, 2009 at 9:45 am

  18. Well, the way I see it, if I use the mentality of the people criticizing this event, we should cancel the New France festival as well. Why you might ask? Aren’t we celebrating when we were “truly at home”, the “good old days” the time before the Conquest? Well now, using their logic, I could say New France was a time and place where the Canadians (pre-confederation francophones) were doubly colonized by an imperialistic nation who refused to allow its colonies to be self sufficient, who’s law said you had to prove your innocence to the court and not the court prove your guilt, and where social ranks were strictly observed. Why would one want to commemorate an era where liberty was basically limited to one obeying to his social superiors and your lot in life was set for, well, life? The colonial government was just as corrupt if not more than the British.
    Yet if we are Québécois today, it is indeed because of the Conquest. I refuse to say “thanks to”, because like a birth, does a mother thank the pain and suffering that led to the delivery of the newborn? Yet Québec has no right to refuse to commemorate an event of such magnitude; it is a duty to remember the good times and the bad which led to mold us into who we are today. Many “Jeunes patriotes” enjoy reenacting the patriots’ fights. Yet the patriots were executed, exiled, and ultimately failed their endeavor to overthrow the government! And so I ask this : what is the difference between Falardeau making a movie about men dying for what they failed (but for a right cause)to do and a reenactment of men who, surprise, also died for a failed victory but at least giving their lives for what was seen as a just cause? Let’s stop this incessant nit-picking. Especially considering that reenactments of the battle of the plains of Abraham have been going on for years across the continent, yet it’s only now that political backlash is being hyped for the wrong reasons. Let them reenact. At least I can say without flinching : Je me souviens, instead of “J’veux oublier”.


    January 25, 2009 at 8:01 pm

  19. Bruce,

    Your interlingual James Joyce-inspired soliloquies are extremely amusing and offer the most graceful evidence that a people that fully embraces all its parts can indeed be something greater than their sum. Brilliant and fun, though rather intellectually draining!

    As for the bed of thorny roses that awaits us in the upcoming year, it already looks as if the lunacy of the embittered Republicans has started to turn Obama’s honeymoon bittersweet. The same relentless and unthinking GOP drones that relentlessly pestered and poked Bill Clinton have been unleashed on Obama already for political gains. They’ve decided that waiting for him to fail — heaven forbid he might even succeed, damnit! — would lose this great political opportunity that GWB has bequeathed them in the form of a global economic crisis.

    So perhaps Canada should be grateful that its leaders don’t come on pedestals. The bigger they are the harder they will fall, and it won’t be pretty this time. The underclasses may soar on the wings of symbolic heros like Obama, but they’ll fall even harder when he’s shot down…and it is clear that his enemies are already taking aim. Steven Harper may be a let down from the start, but the landing is all the less bumpy as a consequence.


    January 25, 2009 at 8:29 pm

  20. … I should have said its modern leaders. There are plenty of pedestal-potential predecessors.


    January 25, 2009 at 8:40 pm

  21. As far as I’m concerned, these commemorations are a way of proving (yet again) that while Canadians talk a lot about “moving past” things and “growing up”, they would rather cling to their myths and bitch about separatists than seize an opportunity to examine who they really are, where they really came from, and how they really see others.

    If Canadians really were able to get past old animosities and accept historical facts whether they like them or not, we would all celebrate (sorry, “commemorate”) the American Revolution as the key moment in Canada becoming the nation it is today.


    January 25, 2009 at 9:26 pm

  22. I think there are many Canadians who have to fess up to the fact that this country is pretty much the result of a shotgun wedding. Mind you, as far as shotgun weddings go, it’s a relatively successful one.


    January 25, 2009 at 10:07 pm

  23. “Duceppe seems level headed enough — he, I think, realises that the full economic self sufficiency of Quebec is the ‘necessary condition’.
    At a basic level that is there, but not sufficient for the current programs in place — the 7 dollar daycare etc, which is wonderful, (and I approve of it), but it is not “fully funded” by current economic output.
    The regions are cyclic resource based revenues, and highly vulnerable. It is doubtful hydro alone can fund eveything to which Québec aspires.”

    If this is true, Bruce, for the sake of discussion, I’d like to know how you and others feel about the fact that many Quebecers (though not all of them of course), therefore appear to be “in it just for the money”?


    January 25, 2009 at 10:12 pm

  24. Edward:

    “The underclasses may soar on the wings of symbolic heros like Obama, but they’ll fall even harder when he’s shot down”

    Well put. I remember listening to Obama speak a while back now and knowing that we were going to get all our hearts broken, underclass or not, American or not. I don’t really like “leaders” in general, myself. People who want to be led irritate me, and people who want to lead give me the creeps. But I do like popular movements, because they’re the source of all real social progress. So while I’m uneasy with the cult of personality aspect of Obama’s victory, I was moved by how people came together and worked their asses off to get him elected. I know people in America who took early retirement or a year off school to work on his campaign (I’m sure you have a lot more of those stories than I do).

    For the moment, even a cynical anarchist like me has to admit that after eight years, it’s really nice to hear the President of the United States speak in nuanced terms and complete sentences. And while he’ll almost certainly fail in the long run to live up to his talk (and to be fair, what politician doesn’t?), it’s beautiful that people voted for him because he appealed to their desire for social progress. What do you think the odds are that the popular movement he inspired might take on a life of its own, even if he gets shot down or lets it down?

    Either way, his campaign really made me realize that there’s a lot about America I love but used to take for granted. Actually started drawing up a list at one point, and I only quit when I realized it was silly how much time I was spending on it. Hell, halfway through Obama’s campaign, I considered ordering a T-shirt that said “God Bless America” on it, and I was only about 15% motivated by wanting to wind up Canadians.


    January 25, 2009 at 10:15 pm

  25. “Quebec should be an equal partner to the other 9 you mention which consitute our confederation. I hear more and more, however, that the special treatment ( or demands etc) of Quebec are irritating a great deal of those in the ROC (silly way of putting it as this in itself creates a divide..I thought Canada was a country comprised of 10 regional and equal provinces including Quebec”

    So I guess if provincial equality is such a big concern for you, then we should expect to see ABP on the warpath against PEI for those four constitutionally guaranteed MPs for less than 150,000 people, or against Newfoundland and Nova Scotia for the Atlantic Accord, right?

    Fair is fair, right? All provinces have to be treated equally with perfect symmetry, right?


    January 25, 2009 at 10:34 pm

  26. ABP and Acajack just made me realize why there can likely never be a Canadian Obama (at least as far as the Quebec issue goes). To most ROCers, that would mean someone who could get Quebec to accept that it’s a province just like any other, but to most Quebecers, it would mean someone who could get ROCers to accept that Quebec isn’t a province like all the others. In other words, Canadians want Quebec to be more comfortable with the authority of the federal government, but Quebecers want Canada to be comfortable with its federal government having little or no authority over Quebec.

    How can someone ever get two groups to put their differences aside and work together when those groups have fundamentally juxtaposed ideas of what it even means to put their differences aside and work together? By preaching it to one group, s/he’d be taking the side of the other.


    January 25, 2009 at 11:17 pm

  27. “ABP and Acajack just made me realize why there can likely never be a Canadian Obama (at least as far as the Quebec issue goes). To most ROCers, that would mean someone who could get Quebec to accept that it’s a province just like any other, but to most Quebecers, it would mean someone who could get ROCers to accept that Quebec isn’t a province like all the others. In other words, Canadians want Quebec to be more comfortable with the authority of the federal government, but Quebecers want Canada to be comfortable with its federal government having little or no authority over Quebec.
    How can someone ever get two groups to put their differences aside and work together when those groups have fundamentally juxtaposed ideas of what it even means to put their differences aside and work together? By preaching it to one group, s/he’d be taking the side of the other.”

    Voilà. There is a reason why I hypothesized about a Québécois Obama and said nothing about a Canadian one. Hadn’t really thought about it in GCL’s terms but it’s interesting that I never really thought about a coast-to-coast (sellable in 10 provinces) Canadian Obama. Although note that Obama wasn’t/isn’t a hit in all 50 states either.


    January 26, 2009 at 9:08 am

  28. “Fair is fair, right? All provinces have to be treated equally with perfect symmetry, right?”

    Thats is correct, PEI and the maritimes also receive preferential treatment as you indicate. PEI would only be able to support about 30,000 people without equalizatio some have suggested. The population is 140K. What fairness has existed for the Western Provinces over the couple of decades (remember the NEP in Alberta, promises broke on non renewable revenues streams).

    I also note that hydro revenue is not included in the “E” formulaes. This does not report all income for a couple of provinces. Is this a fair deal to all the rest.

    Is there a solution, not likely in the current model.



    January 26, 2009 at 12:29 pm

  29. Acajack,

    > I’d like to know how you and others feel about the fact that many Quebecers (though not all of them of course), therefore appear to be “in it just for the money”? <

    That’s a very fair question!

    Most of the anglos keep pointing this out in one way or another, but they must surely know that this reasoning doesn’t resonate in the least with the more determined souvereignists!

    They, the Montréal indépendentists take the line that a) they don’t care, and b) independence would galvanise everyone to work their butt off, with great results.

    I think the entrepreneural and successful francophone Québécois business classes see the good sense in fraternal relations, and tend to suppport federalsim.

    How do I feel? I dunno. I’m not really too upset about it. Canada endeavours to equalise and some moralise about it, and others can remain above that.

    For the most part, the Government of Canada has been able to balance the books overall in recent years, and the national debt was decreasing during recent good times at least, so the costs of alimenting Québec to a certain degree are seen by thoughtful citizens as a cost of "being Canadian" and adhering to that multicultural ideal.

    Sometimes a kid in a family is having a rough time emotionally — lets say it was, not a shot-gun marriage, but a blended family. And the kid was abused by previous parent/guardians no longer in the picture.

    And you see the goodness in the kid, and his potential, and he is your spouses child, and you love her, and you make the decision to love the kid also, no different from your own flesh and blood. And the kid keeps lashing out at you. And you have to keep on loving….

    One day it is possible that the kid gets over the traumas of his 400 year abused childhood, and decides that what the hell, life’s not so bad, he’s getting on with it and since his mom and you are an on-going item, he can afford to respect you to from time to time.

    Or not. Whatever.

    This is likely a really bad analogy, because the separatists (perhaps they are feeling a lot like the abused kid who is still getting some taunts from some of the former more ignorant in-laws), these passionate ones, who don’t know whether they have any useful stake in Canada, and hold that they don’t, and who have all their elaborate arguments which are very dearly and closely held, have a perspective that seems organic and logical to them.

    But on the other hand a lot of their compatriots, and a general majority of Québécois have more or less gotten past "the past" and also as AFG mentioned in a previous blog, Canada works OK for most of the people out in the regions, where English isn’t spoken. It is just this ongoing language angst in Montréal where their is a linguistic collision coupled with a lot of feelings about past abuse that was conducted in the english language.

    I feel that the majority of the Québec populace of today realise that Canada is very heterogeneous and also friendly to many cultures, and is not hostile on purpose to the imperative to protect French.

    So I don’t care that much whether certain Québécois just would like to get money as they might regard to be some form of "reparations" for the past injustices, and at the same time old Canada in total scorn.

    I mean that’s a little schizoid anyhow, perhaps, but that likely represents a part of the population that is still relatively underprivileged as well, and maybe feeling less buoyant aqbout life in general. I don’t pretend to really know.

    But a confident adult has to know how to turn the other cheek, from time to time, and ignore some emotional behaviour. And I don’t know how confident an adult Canada is, but somewhat, no doubt.

    Anyhow if at least half of Québécois are happy at least 50 or 60% of the time, that’s all that really counts.

    Together we are still Canada, and that includes even those who see themselves as not.


    January 26, 2009 at 2:15 pm

  30. I happened to be a luncheon today on the subject of transfer payments put on by a Canadain think tank..Frontier Foundation I beleive. Very interesting indeed. You see transfer payments are not only about equalization as the federal government utilize other measures to transfer money from one area to the other. EI, infrastructure, federal civil service jobs per capita and the list goes on and on. For instance in Ontario I believe the figure was 170 or so Civil Servants per 1000 residents….In PEI, this was close to 250, In Quebec about 236. I could be off on this a bit.

    Over the past few years equalization payments alone have rised at 4 x the GDP growth of that of the province of Ontarios.. In Quebec this figure has grown by 10X the GDP growth of Ontarios or a whopping 68% increase in just four years.

    This is not likely sustainable going forward. In fact the federal government has never done an assessment study of need, the economic consequences of equalization and what effect that transfers have on productivity. Nor a study on what social programs are available in each province as compared to the other. Not a subject which is widely wished to be discussed in Ottawa as I understand.



    January 26, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: