Tuesday, February 17, 2009

We could just replace it with a "night of the long knives" re-enactment

After a fierce battle, they've called off the battle. For those just tuning in now:

QUEBEC — A slugfest of insults between federalists and separatists that threatened to turn to violence led to cancellation of the re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham marking the 250th anniversary of the British conquest of New France.

For weeks a war of words erupted in newspapers, on the web and on open line radio shows where extremists on both sides threatened to use violence to either stop next summer's re-enactment from taking place or protect it against disruptions.

The argument being espoused by the separatists is, one gathers, that recreating this battle is an insult and humiliation to the Quebecois nation. I will give creativity marks to those advancing the theory that the "French army's defeat was being staged for no other reason than to promote Canadian national unity". Yes, because I can't think of anything else that would bring Canadians closer together!

Although Duceppe and Marois have charged ahead on this one, most politicians have raised the white flag. And you can't blame them for that since it's likely not smart politics to get involved in a real mess like this. Not to single him out, but I'll point to Ignatieff's comments, just because they show how comically afraid everyone in Ottawa is to get involved:

"What I don't like, frankly, is that sovereigntists are trying to dominate a free debate. As someone who likes Canada and knows a thing or two about its history, I want to have my say," Ignatieff told reporters at a separate event in Quebec City.

He said he isn't for or against a re-enactment of the battle, but stressed any commemoration of this "defeat and tragedy" would need to be dignified, sober and carried out in a respectful manner.

And since I don't have a huge francophone readership to alienate, I want to have my say too.

I think it's absolutely ridiculous to be up in arms over this. This is part of a series of international re-enactments to commemorate the 7 Years War - there's no ulterior motive here. Hell, there had been a battle of Ste-Foi re-enactment - where the French beat the British - planned the day after. These things happen all the time and no one ever complains - you can click here and scroll through five pages of upcoming civil war re-enactments, many of them being staged in southern states. These things happen all the time in Canada too - this isn't the first time they've re-enacted the Plains of Abraham battle and no one ever voiced opposition to it before.

The one positive in all of this is that it shows how the sovereignty movement is left with no real issue to fight over. Their language has been protected and their culture is thriving within Canada. There is no crisis, no grand demand, no burning issue that can capture the hearts of nationalists. In short, the Canadian experiment is actually looking pretty good right about now.

So what do they do? They complain about Shane Doan's captaincy on Team Canada. Or about Paul McCartney's concert on the Plains of Abraham. Or about some people playing dress up and shooting blanks off for an afternoon. They have no issue in 2009 so they need to re-live battles of two hundred and fifty years ago. Yup, stuff that happened a decade before Napoleon was even born. Way to be relevant.

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  • Only the insecure are afraid of the import of their past!

    By Blogger BeerBellyBuddah, at 11:30 p.m.  

  • I disagree. It's a stupid move motivated by those who want to celebrate the victory. Commemorating bloodshed is the last thing we should be funding as a nation. This historical event is captured well enough in our history books and documentaries. And as for Ignatieff's conclusion on this matter:

    He said he isn't for or against a re-enactment of the battle, but stressed any commemoration of this "defeat and tragedy" would need to be dignified, sober and carried out in a respectful manner.

    I say hogwash.

    Would he be as quick to see the commemoration of defeat and tragedy if it was a re-enactment of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising?

    You just don't humiliate a defeated people period or honour the bloodshed.

    By Blogger Beijing York, at 12:12 a.m.  

  • when are the sovereigntists gonna realize when France had a choice between them and Guadeloupe, the French chose Guadeloupe

    By Blogger Anthony, at 1:25 a.m.  

  • The Quebecois are not a defeated people.

    The Plains of Abraham is part of our history. So are a lot of other things, some for better, and some for worse.

    To choose ignorance over disharmony is not a choice I agree with.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 1:30 a.m.  

  • What is this, Northern Ireland? Provocation mascarading as history is provocation.

    By Blogger Altavistagoogle, at 2:27 a.m.  

  • I will agree that cancelling it was the right given the shit storm that it caused, but with 2000 participants and, presumably, thousands of other tourists, it would have been a bit of a boon to the Quebec City tourism industry.

    And, as Antonio says above, this battle didn't mark the end of the french language in North America. It survives to this day and France chose Guadaloupe over Canada at the end of the war. Blame France for it, if anyone.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:37 a.m.  

  • There's one thing everyone seems to be overlooking. The event was cancelled due to threats of violence.

    I guess my parents were wrong - violence actually does solve problems.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:27 a.m.  

  • Why are we wasting our time on such nonsense?
    Who cares.
    Its the economy, stupid.
    Let the seperatists fight themselves.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:51 a.m.  

  • Every province has its zealots. The difference is that the Quebec government indulges its zealots, tells them "you're absolutely right, you're a victim, you should demand more from Ottawa & then bitch when you don't get more than you asked for. You cannot possibly be wrong no matter what you say or do."

    Let these people bitch about petty things like battle re-enactments. They are just making idiots of themselves & doing their cause a disservice. Time is not on their side: in 15 years Quebec will play a much-reduced role in any calculations of a majority government. At that point we can turn off the funding taps & treat Quebec like any other province. Then the spoiled brat will have an allowance the same size as everyone else's.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:20 a.m.  

  • Anon 11:20. How is Quebec a spoiled brat? Imagine Alberta's defence budget if it was a country. Why do Quebeckers pay for defending Alberta without reaping any of the benefits from the oil?

    The capital is in Ontario: More money leaving the province. Quebec has few Aboriginals: Money leaves Quebec to Manitoba. Boats from Thunder Bay travel via Quebc without paying a toll. Read Jane Jacob's 1981 book, Quebec has suuffered financially, and continues to suffer, by being part of Canada.

    By Blogger Altavistagoogle, at 12:08 p.m.  

  • Quebec is being hurt financially by being in Canada?

    You seriously want to try that argument? Have you seen the equalization numbers?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:07 p.m.  

  • uhhh, AVG, That Alberta Oil pays for Quebec daycare and a thousand other nanny state programs that pretty much guarantee that we would roll the french similar to the Plains of Abraham.

    What in world are you talking about, "Imagine if Alberta was a country", "Why is Quebec paying for Alberta's defense?" That does not make any sense! Are you a separatist computer program that randomly strings together separatist friendly words to piss off the rest of the country.

    Heres my solution, we send in the CF, only English speaking battle groups, in fact, only CF members with Anglo Saxon names will be deployed to the Plains. In the event of an attack by the French, we kick their ass like it's 1754! Separatists never shit up about neo-british-colonialism, I say its about time we show them what that would mean! We can start right here in Alberta by laying Siege to Beaumont until they remove "arret" from all the stop signs!

    I kid but man I wish separatists could be exiled!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:57 p.m.  

  • Les Quebecois or, as they were also known back then, les Canadiens are not a defeated people and were not defeated on the Plains of Abraham.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I do believe it was an army of French soldiers that had travelled over the Atlantic Ocean to fight the English soldiers who had done the same.

    The French lost to the British. Canada was born in the gunsmoke.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 2:07 p.m.  

  • With Quebec, I think you have to remember that there are two interrelated things going on. In the short-run there are bargaining ploys, but in the long-run, they have evolved into a victim complex that underlies a notion of a Quebec nation.

    The mythos is as follows: The Plains of Abraham (after which life barely changed in Quebec); the hanging (and I'm a descendant of Gabriel Dumont here) of Louis Riel (who orchestrated an armed rebellion against Canada - TWICE); conscription (for a war to save the French homeland/world from the greatest menace in human history) and countless tempests in teapots contrived since (eg. the fiscal equilibrium). Indeed there was even a popular book in the Silent Revolution called the white [n-words] of Quebec (though as far as I can tell, the backwardness of Quebec in the Duplessis years was mostly self-inflicted).

    The thing is that Canada's politicians, chattering classes and so on have generally indulged those myths. The CBC recently had a replay of the Riel trial where Riel got off (Saddam Hussein should have hired some of those lawyers). Conscription was shamelessly used by the Liberals in the 1921 election, who made it all worse by enacting it themselves in WWII. Mulroney's Meech, and Harper's fiscal disequilibrium continued along that basic path.

    All of this has gotten us essentially the permanent representation of separatism in parliament and the perpetual threat of secession.

    Canadians need to put forth their side of the case instead of indulging the separatists. The Plains of Abraham is a good example of that. When we say "oh we can't show that", we are declaring that the conquest was a horrid thing. We should be pointing out that yes, Quebec was conquered - AND YET QUEBECOIS (NOT FRENCH) CULTURE SURVIVES AFTER 250 YEARS. The British allowed the Quebecois to maintain their culture and heritage, and indeed the Quebecois returned the favour by being erstwhile allies of the British during the American revolution and War of 1812. Lets stop enabling and actually make the case for Canada (we Anglos should also learn to speak French, which would help us make that point).

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 4:56 p.m.  

  • "Quebec was conquered."

    Again, let me correct that point. The French were defeated. Not the Quebecois. Indeed, Quebec as a place with that name did not exist until after the British took over.

    As for your main point about needing leadership and someone to speak up for Canada instead of indulging the separatists, don't wait for our so-called leader and Prime Minister to show any leadership on that front.

    You know things aren't going so swell for you when your most ardent supporters start firing shots at you, saying you lack principles and leadership.

    First it was the conservative backlash on the budget.

    Now it is ardent Conservative backers like Kelly McParland of the National Post not only saying:

    "From all available evidence, Mr. Harper and James Moore, the Heritage Minister, simply hid from the issue. They refused to make any decisions, refused to provide any guidance, refused even to accept that there might be some responsibility on their part to address the issue."

    ... and not only:

    "[The last election] cost him seats and credibility [in Quebec], and now he has apparently resorted to winning it back the old fashioned way, buying up votes one goodie at a time.

    It’s not very impressive, and it has to be added to the various retreats Mr. Harper has engineered on other Tory positions, which have left many a supporter wondering what happened to the Stephen harper they thought they elected."

    ... but far worse than that, McParland compares Harper's cowardice and lack of leadership to Trudeau of all people and his guts and leadership in facing down a truly violent and much larger gang of separatists in 1968.

    We have so sorely been lacking in real national leadership for so long in this country that some have begun to think a bunch of photo ops instead of real decision-making is leadership.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 5:37 p.m.  

  • We have so sorely been lacking in real national leadership ....etc So very true my friend,next election will see another increase in the percentage of us who vote none of the above.

    By Blogger The Red Fox, at 6:45 p.m.  

  • conscription (for a war to save the French homeland/world from the greatest menace in human history)

    The Kaiser?? WW1 was idiotic and conscription was even stupider, but Canada has never been short of toadies who feel the need to sacrifice their youth in order to impress the empire. Quebec has always been more confident in itself as a real nation and while that maturity isn't completely absent from the ROC, unfortunately it has mostly been a minority current.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:41 p.m.  

  • Sovereigntists are such babies.... I'm surprised Quebec hasn't rounded them up and thrown them onto a Dr. Phil special yet.

    Holy smokes, my Word Verificiation is 'unitypor'.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:26 p.m.  

  • "Quebec has always been more confident in itself as a real nation and while that maturity isn't completely absent from the ROC, unfortunately it has mostly been a minority current."

    Which is why they are afraid of English signs, Paul McCartney and Hijab-wearing soccer players.

    As for WWI, it was a war to prevent German domination of Europe and ultimately, the world. Conscription in Canada did help make a difference - in 1917 the war came quite close to being lost (the Russians collapsed, freeing up German troops to move to the eastern front).

    The kaiser was not as bad as Hitler, but a world dominated by liberal, free-trading, democratic Britain was much preferable to Canadians than one dominated by war-mongering authoritarian Germany.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 6:11 p.m.  

  • My goodness, Canadian conscription did not make a significant difference in the outcome of WW1, ask any historian.

    Conscription was only necessary because the government was (stupidly) measuring its contribution to the war effort in terms of men on the field (which we didn't have many of due to our tiny population at the time) rather than dollars (which Canada contributed disproportionately, thanks in no small part to the hard work of Quebecois).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:00 a.m.  

  • As for WWI, it was a war to prevent German domination of Europe

    Well, I hate to break it to you but maybe Britain did lose WW1 then...but yeah the liberal 'peace loving' British empire (which had recently invented the concentration camp in South Africa)was clearly "forced" to go to war in order to stop evil authoritarian Germany(which had the largest social democratic party in the world)from uniting Europe too soon. And by being "preferable to Canadians" do you mean that Quebeckers aren't Canadians?

    And it wasn't just Quebec, in the woods just outside my home town, a pacifist originally excused from service for medical reasons had his status changed after leading a strike and was hunted down and shot for not wanting to kill Germans. But there is nothing authoritarian or warlike about that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:29 a.m.  

  • It's well past time to kick out Quebec and Atlantic Provinces from Canada.

    The French are a decadent and disgusting people, not working, always surrendering, never trustworthy. Worst mistake in WWII was to restore French independence instead of restoring His Majesty the King to his rightful territories.

    Quebec adored the Nazis (see P.E. Trudeau's adornment in WWII era MTL) and is still a racist and anti-semitic area. There is nothing useful or of any value there, the sooner they leave the better.

    Also, re-enactments on the Plains are a regular occurrence in the summer. I'm shocked that anyone is making a big deal out of it. Typical stupid separatist terrorists.

    By Blogger Hey, at 8:37 p.m.  

  • I'd rather we kicked you out of Canada 'Hey', based on your charming post, I'm pretty sure most Canadians would agree.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:20 p.m.  

  • Some interesting comments here and and interesting post.
    I would agree that ill conceived or not, the major issue overlooked here is what appears to be the complete lack of dialogue over the cancellation of the re-enactment prior to the final decision and the submission to threats of violence.
    I posted on this subject myself: http://buckeach.blogspot.com/

    By Blogger Cory, at 1:12 a.m.  

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