Gilles Duceppe’s Separatist World (…ok, Canadian) Tour

with 95 comments

In his excellent biography of Pierre Bourgault, journalist Jean-François Nadeau tells the fascinating story of the gay veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces who lived with a pet kangaroo in his Shaughnessy village house near the old Forum and became an indépendantiste pioneer. In his book, Nadeau also recalls the separatist firebrand’s long forgotten tour of the Canadian West, early in his career.

Way back in the day, before paying lip-service to Canada’s “bilingual” nature became a litmus test of canadianess, Bourgault toured the Prairies to explain the idea of an independent Québec to hostile crowds of Westerners who had no sympathy for any “French power” or “Québec Libre” nonsense and who basically were going out to see a freak show.

According to Nadeau, Bourgault usually left the room to standing ovations.

This week the Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe launched his own Canadian Tour, but Québec’s independence is not the radical idea it once was.  The idea that with Québec out, Canada will be more a more united and nimble country has much greater acceptance today than it did when Bourgault spelled it out to his unsuspecting audiences of farmers and cattle ranchers.

And Canada has changed too, since Bourgault’s time.  Like the Prime Minister’s muse, Tom Flanagan, is quoted as saying in the Globe and Mail: “In the West, it’s a yawner, whether Quebec is in or out”.

Duceppe is one of the longest-serving members of the House of Commons, a familiar face to all Canadians and, even if bashing separatists who collect a federal salary is always a good for a few votes in te ROC, most people in Ottawa recognize the Bloquistes are kickass parliamentarians.

It’s hard to see what Duceppe will accomplish with this tour, or even who would come out to hear him.

One useful thing Duceppe could do, if he was so inclined, is reach out the Canadian left and see if  his sovereigntists comrade Amir Khadir‘s suggestion that the Bloc and the NDP work out some sort of  formal alliance has any legs.

Why, not?  If the Bloc is in Ottawa for the long run, there is not fundamental reason why it couldn’t form a united opposition with the NDP, with a common social platform and separate constitutional planks.

Damn, I could even make a case that it could form a government with the New Democrats, deferring it’s votes on any constitutional or federal-provincial issue to Québec’s National Assembly, achieving a kind of sovereignty-association without changing a coma in the Constitution.

I’m not holding my breath.  Big ideas are hard to sell in the age or micro-targeting.  It would be surprising if anything inspiring or novel came out of Duceppe’s voyage.

Now I’m not saying Duceppe is a boring politician of that he doesn’t have any good ideas.  He’s certainly one of my top 5 separatists.

I’m just saying he looks more like a dog man than a kangaroo type of guy.

Written by angryfrenchguy

April 5, 2010 at 5:16 pm

95 Responses

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  1. “No, it wouldn’t.
    There are plenty of enterprises in Canada that developed without federal assistance that are taxed to death by the federal government.
    Most small businesses fall into that category.
    No, I think it is high time for Quebec to pay to Ottawa a tariff on th electricity it exports. Particularly on the power it gets from Churchill Falls and simply resells at a 50 times profit to New England.
    You do know, don’t you, that there is a long tradition of taxing windfalls profits…”

    Bring on a megaproject in Quebec east of Quebec City (which is as much of a basket case as many places in the Maritimes and NL) that is largely federally-funded and then maybe we’ll talk.


    April 9, 2010 at 8:02 am

  2. Regarding Toc Toc Toc… I overhear hear the show’s theme song fairly regularly in my house, and it is funny how the music has vaguely a klezmer-ish sound to it:


    April 9, 2010 at 8:04 am

  3. Acajack:

    There’s nothing “vaguely Klezmer-ish” about it. It’s spot on Klezmer.

    Tony Kondaks

    April 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm

  4. I agree with TK, although I think the sound is a bit “washed out” by Klezmer standards.


    April 9, 2010 at 3:45 pm

  5. for james – who is so fond of quotations –

    “I could not tread these perilous paths in safety,
    if I did not keep a saving sense of humour.”
    — Horatio Nelson

    “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
    — Winston Churchill

    tonite’s recommendation came as a birthday gift – albeit belated but nonetheless appreciated:

    a merlot – columbia crest – 2005 – washington state


    April 9, 2010 at 7:19 pm

  6. FreedomHouse,

    Wow, a Columbia Crest Merlot 2005, consumed by you.

    Now that’s what I call alcohol abuse.


    April 9, 2010 at 7:31 pm

  7. what can i say james, you scribblings have driven me to it….

    i will be seeking damages.


    April 9, 2010 at 7:34 pm

  8. Oh, well, if you’re seeking damages, I refer you to your soul brothers ABP and TK ci-haut.


    April 9, 2010 at 7:38 pm

  9. ok – you can be my lawyer.
    but i want 50% of the amount you promise to win up front.
    you can keep 100% of what you win.


    April 9, 2010 at 7:48 pm

  10. I’d be representing the vintner for defamation.


    April 9, 2010 at 7:50 pm

  11. you’re going to need to find another client – if you recall – on or about the 9th – i recommended the vintner.


    April 9, 2010 at 7:55 pm

  12. and therein lies the defamation, and the alcohol abuse johnny. you really are a “big dots for tiny tots” kinda guy aren’t ya?


    April 9, 2010 at 8:00 pm

  13. you are going to have to sue yourself my friend.


    April 9, 2010 at 8:09 pm

  14. johnny,

    toc toc toc


    April 9, 2010 at 8:13 pm

  15. james,

    noli me tangere


    April 9, 2010 at 8:41 pm

  16. “Oh, well, if you’re seeking damages, I refer you to your soul brothers ABP and TK ci-haut.”

    No damages , just leave and we will take care of the rest as is usual. Mon pauvre petit homme du Quebec


    April 9, 2010 at 9:29 pm

  17. C’est quand on n’a plus d’arguments qu’on en arrive aux insultes. La petitesse est la..


    April 10, 2010 at 6:53 am

  18. “C’est quand on n’a plus d’arguments qu’on en arrive aux insultes. La petitesse est la..”

    Je suis d’accorde avec toi. Mais le deux gens sont comme l’eau et l’oil. Ils ne melangez pas bien ensemble comme nous voyons ici. Je voir deux et pas d’une.


    April 10, 2010 at 12:04 pm

  19. apb,

    there it is – in a nutshell.


    i maintain that the discussion surrounding secession is a perennial pain in the ass. my position is denigrated with infantile descriptions of reduced mental capacity. not because i exhibit a deficiency, but because i disagree.

    welcome to democracy my friends.

    if (and it is a very big if – considering that 30 years have lapsed since some foggy notion gained political legitimacy) a viable plan was produced that would provide a path for the improvement of our society – you could count on my support.

    i see no such plan. just vague promises.

    politicians and promises are odds a little too steep for the farmer to bet on. i’m an urbanite but i have the instincts of someone with their feet on the ground (unmitigated bravado).

    anybody trying to sell me snake oil is in for a tough sell. and if you think i will put my money on the table because james jacques or john thinks it’s a good idea – well….

    on va voir.

    m. duceppe is a former maoist – and history has exposed the exploits of this man and his gang. i resist the political aspirations of mao and duceppe because destruction is not creation.

    the independance of quebec rests on creation – and i mean that until quebec can demonstrate a better way – the status quo is what we are stuck with.

    gee, i wish i could buy a cadillac cts convertible.


    April 10, 2010 at 10:39 pm

  20. “you should be thanking the NDP for the Clarity Act. You now have a legal structure to follow in order to achieve Quebec independence.”

    Only if Quebeckers really wanted the so called “independence”, the Clarity Act would be a non-issue. They would ask an honest and direct question, get their clear majority, and move on to statehood.

    The reason why they shit bricks the minute Clarity Act is mentioned (after all, this law does not rule out separation, it just makes the rules fair) is because they know that the only way this thing will pass is if they use deception and trickery, as in 1995. Talking about partnerships while intending to declare unilateral separation the night of. Do you think these soft nationalists would have voted yes if they knew they will be losing their Canadian passports 3 hours later? No way Jose.

    In 1995, all the conditions were there. A misleading convoluted question, massive vote fraud aimed at disenfranchising No voters (Chomedey), charismatic leader (who since then abandoned the cause), failure of Meech Lake to dangle in front of people’s faces as proof of the so called “failure” of the country that most people would consider one of the best in the world. And even then, they couldn’t squeak by the 50% margin.

    The Clarity Act, by setting the rules of the game, is the nail to their coffins. They know that very well. They will never be thankful for that.


    April 11, 2010 at 1:43 pm

  21. Interesting insights, noyb_

    And yet…and yet…the blackmail continues unabated…

    Tony Kondaks

    April 11, 2010 at 2:47 pm

  22. We’ve already addressed equalization.

    you’re right AJ, we already have, and *many* blogs ago too. But I think this is an example of the “repeating loop” phenomenon, whereby when someone trots out a brainless canard and urban legend based on half-baked math that gets debunked, maybe if they wait awhile – say a few more AFG blogs or so – the smelly dead horse might be good for another run, if the readership’s amnesic enough and of sufficiently gutter mentality.

    So I showed for example that a rare study published by no less “ultranationalist” a source than Statscan looked at the *net* federal transfers by province and found that what Québec got per capita was chump change, by far the least of any of the “have not” provinces (before Ontario got cut in more recently), and not even likely a net positive when you take account of duplication caused by the fed raiding provincial jurisdictions, the fed’s insistence on taking half of evey tax dollar Quebeckers pay while offering less and less in services, forcing the provinces to pay more and piling up a surplus at the centre at the provinces’ expense, the stealing of 10’s of billions by the fed from EI, an insurance scheme which by law is supposed to fund employment programs and is payed for by employers and workers, not the government. The fed’s supposed to be the “trustee” of this program. If I’m the “trustee” of my dad’s estate and decide to spend all his money however I want, regardless of his testament, is that ok? Not the last time I checked. But Paul Martin decided to steal that money to make himself look like a good bookkeeper.

    Here’s the study I cited:

    Why not bring it down to date? Ok, how about 2007, the last year before the recession and with the oil boom in full swing, and notice all the years the number dwindled as the Martin theft went into full swing as well, prompting the provinces into increasingly unified rebellion:

    4.8 bil in “net transfers”. I use “net” because as the bean-counters from the Galganov School of Management neglected to mention, it turns out the feds actually *raises* revenues on Québec soil too, and equalization forms a small percentage of federal-provincial transfers, something else they neglect to mention.

    Divide by Québec’s estimated 2007 population of 7.8 mil and that gives 615$ per capita per year. Gadzooks! So *this* is the vast largesse which separates Québec and its indolent masses from what would otherwise be 3rd world status! Tell me, does that even pay, per capita, a one way fare on the métro, cuz I don’t live in Montréal and I forgot the figure. Does it pay for the war in Afghanistan Quebeckers don’t want?

    Here’s the corresponding figure for Carstairs-toba, steeped in generations of protestant self-sufficiency and Western bootstraps ethos, and which unlike Québec of course never came undeservedly upon the resources of Ruperts Land:

    that’s 4.1 bil for a population of 1.2 mil, or 3400$ per capita. Long live the Western spirit! No soup kitchens here!

    It’s always fun to compare “Canadian” numbers to clown “Canadian” numbers men. What’d they do without their dog-eared books of quotations and their Nat Post editorials? Think for themselves or something?


    April 11, 2010 at 7:44 pm

  23. you’re adept at slurring and stirring james but exactly what are attempting to contribute?

    why will you not make a succinct analysis more along the lines of:

    $615 per capita is chump change – ottawa can bloody well keep it – because in quebec we don’t need it. besides, equalisation is a byzantine labyrinth that no living person on the planet can explain and it should be scrapped.

    then you can stop complaining about manitoba and tell the albertans that everything is going to be alright.
    the albertans will be happy to keep their money and the collectivity in quebec will be happy to express their solidarity in higher taxes.


    April 12, 2010 at 12:28 am

  24. Hey, James, that equalization post of yours?

    549 words.

    What was the big word you’ve been using of late to describe my posts?

    Tony Kondaks

    April 12, 2010 at 2:13 pm

  25. hey Kondaks, how many keystrokes have you and ABP expended making the same bogus argument about transfer payments *over and over and over*, and over how many different blog posts?

    And how come you never refute the math? Cuz you can’t.

    Instead you wait a while, and start the big wordy blowhard show all up again. And the loop repeats.


    April 12, 2010 at 2:28 pm

  26. James,

    I think johnnyonline said it best: if the equalization argument is bogus and Canada isn’t giving so much to Quebec, why not simply refuse it? After all, the constitution speaks of equalization only for “provinces”. You, James, hold Quebec not to be a mere province like the other 9 but a genuine nation or, at the very least, a distinct society.

    A proud nation shouldn’t accept welfare meant for provinces. Why accept such lowly status for the glorious nation of Quebec?

    Indeed, I don’t know why there isn’t a court case to that effect: if Quebec is now recognized as a nation can Ottawa legally give Quebec equalization?

    Tony Kondaks

    April 12, 2010 at 2:43 pm

  27. think johnnyonline said it best: if the equalization argument is bogus and Canada isn’t giving so much to Quebec, why not simply refuse it?

    Dear Ponderous Windbag,

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s chump change, which I established, not you and your cretinous Alberta friend. And that’s why I want real independence, not Hitler-Sudetenland-style independence like you advocate, where the Sudentenlanders can “call in” their back-up from the Reich whenever they’re riled over another fake injustice.

    And by the same token, maybe you could importune on the Manitobans and Saskatchewaners (or whatever they’re called) to refuse their much bigger per capita cut in the name of Western pride and for Albertans to stop taking easterners tax money to subsidize their proud “private sector” oil patch.

    And to repay with compound interest all the money they *did* take under equalization.


    April 12, 2010 at 2:59 pm

  28. Dearest James wrote:

    And (for Alberta) to repay with compound interest all the money they *did* take under equalization.

    I don’t think there would be one Albertan that wouldn’t take up on that, Jamie-boy.

    Compared to the hundreds of billions that have flowed out of Alberta in justequalization payments (not to mention federal taxes on oil), Alberta would be way, way ahead of the game if they could keep all the money that went out for equalization (plus interest for them, too, of course) less all that they received in equalization, plus interest.

    If such a formula were to go in effect, I would move in an instant to Alberta because every man, woman, and child living in Alberta would be the recipient of a check in the amount of at least $1,000,000.00.

    And, if anything, my math is low-balling the amount…

    Tony Kondaks

    April 12, 2010 at 3:07 pm

  29. Compared to the hundreds of billions that have flowed out of Alberta in justequalization payments

    Why Prof Corey, you’re outdoing yourself.

    I’m surprised, there’s no civil war out West, what with the “100’s of millions” in “equalization” alone going to the soup kitchen indolents of Carstairs-toba and Romanow-chewan.


    April 12, 2010 at 3:39 pm

  30. the demonyms would be manitoban and saskatchewanian respectively.

    and i believe that animosities are at a minimum out west because neither group contains any significant population that has pursued an agenda of breaking up the country for the last 35 years.

    i know, i know – it’s not about breaking up the country – it’s actually about self-determination and independance. why can’t i just look on the bright side of things right?

    just a minor detail.


    April 12, 2010 at 8:59 pm

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