Conrad Black is a Blast!
« Québec is a bore », writes Conrad Black in this Saturday’s National Post. Well I guess that it makes sense, then, that it would be on the mind of the probably very bored former press baron wasting the last days of his useful life in a Florida jail cell.
The « first rich man to go to jail in 300 years », as Black was called on the British sitcom The IT Crowd, now watches the game from the penalty box, well aware that if the clock doesn’t run out before he gets to go back on the ice, he certainly will be to old to be of any use. So, as all old men contemplating the end, the mind of the british lord now drifts back to the Golden age of his youth, in his case, Duplessis’s pre-Quiet Revolution Québec.
To National Post readers unfamiliar with contemporary Québec thought—a pleonasm if there ever was one—Conrad Black’s reading of Québec history, the idea that the old conservative nationalist premier Maurice Duplessis was « the saviour of Québec’s jurisdiction and the physical modernizer of the province » and that the Quiet Revolution was a dud, might seem bold and original.
In fact, Black is only repeating 20 year old ideas first articulated by Mario Dumont and the deep blue conservative movement he revived in the early 1990’s.
The soft-nationalist conservatives, the lucids, Québec’s deep blue core, is the holy grail of Québec politics. This supposed « silent majority » of nationalist, federalist, conservatives are the reason the Parti Québécois’ Pauline Marois is alienating her progressive base with identity politics and by offering Éric Caire, a neoliberal ideologue, a seat in her party. They are the reason Jean Charest hides his Anglo MNA’s on the back benches and carefully doses empty burst of indignation at Ottawa.
They are the ones Brian Mulroney rallied in his crushing 1984 victory against the Liberal Party of Canada. They are the ones Lucien Bouchard took away with him to the Bloc Québécois in 1990. They are the ones the Bloc started losing when Gilles Duceppe took over from Bouchard and the Bloc became, according to a leaked internal report, “too centered around Montreal and ethnics”. They are the ones Mario Dumont briefly united for his surprise 2007 breakthrough and the ones who are behind the « Québec City Mystery » of the Conservative Party of Canada’s only Québec stronghold.
Québec’s deep blue conservatives are also very much Conrad Blacks true family. It’s certainly not a coincidence that Lucien Bouchard, Brian Mulroney and that Anglo-Catholic kid from Montreal, Conrad Black himself, are all alumni of Québec City’s Université Laval law school.
Québec’s Old blues are the classic prototype of the conservative movements enamoured with mythical origin stories, paternalistic theocracies and outdated ethnic definitions of nationhood that Black has consistently championed in his publications in Québec, Canada, the USA and Israel.
For example, Conrad Black shares former sovereigntist premier Lucien Bouchard’s preoccupation for “the white races that has the fewest children. »
« The birthrate has collapsed. » writes Black. « This should not be celebrated, but in the perversity of Quebec’s desorientation, it is. » (Because Québec, of course, is the only place in the world where increased education and economic prosperity should not lead to lower birth rates.) Haitians and North Africans « are being imported to replace the unborn ». (Which, apparently, is completely different from the situation in English-speaking nations like Britain and Canada where East and South Asians emigrate in search of economic opportunity and political freedom.)
So why does Black hate separatists so much if many of them share his conservative, free market, traditionalist views? Because Québec nationalists should have been on his team, like they were in Diefenbaker’s time and Duplessis’s time. It should have been possible to buy their votes with a flag like Duplessis did in 1958 or with a bogus parliamentary motion on the Québec « nation » like Harper tried to do in 2006.
The issue of Québec’s independence has been the tragedy of an entire generation of Canadian conservatives. Québec conservatives can be as virulently anti-separatist as any West Islander after a bad burrito, yet, on the other hand, some, like Mario Dumont and Lucien Bouchard in 1995, have at times embraced the cause, if only temporarily
This fraternal split over a constitutional dispute is what has prevented Québec and Canadian conservatives from building the great coalition of oil interests and people who think Jesus spoke English that, in other countries, have lead to the great prosperous era of George W. Bush, Dubai and deregulated investment banking.
It is this split that prevented Stephen Harper from having a majority in parliament and Jean Charest from proceeding with his « reingeneering » of the state. Now Canada is stuck with one of the only properly regulated and stable bank systems in the Western world and Québec suffers the indignity of being one of the jurisdictions the least affected by the recession.
The sovereignty movement was a farce, accuses a bitter Black in the pages of the National Post, a bankrupt ideological and partisan newspaper that has never made a profit. The leaders of the independence movement were traitors, thieves and even murderers, writes from prison the man caught stealing millions of dollars from his investors.
Maybe Québec is a bore, Conrad, but watching you and your conservative world collapse sure is a lot of fun.