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