Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Royal Pain

Despite all their talk about protecting the French language, the separatist movement has always taken a "je m'en fout" attitude towards francophones living outside of Quebec. So it shouldn't be a big surprise that Gilles Duceppe went absolutely insane today over rather benign comments from the GG:

In an interview published by the French newspaper Le Monde on the weekend, Michaëlle Jean said she intends to speak about the importance of Canadian francophones who live outside Quebec when she meets with President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday.

“There are a million of them out there fighting to save their language and their culture,” said Ms. Jean, who is in France to underline the significance of this year's 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City.

“And I will tell President Sarkozy, ‘Look beyond Quebec,'” she said.

That prompted an angry outburst by Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, who dismissed Ms. Jean and the monarchy she represents as “ridiculous.”

“I think France should go beyond Michaëlle Jean,” Mr. Duceppe said during Question Period.

“The representative of the Queen repeated that the 400th anniversary celebrated France and Canada,” he said. “Does the Prime Minister realize that we're talking about the 400th anniversary of Quebec City and of the Quebec nation? Isn't it the Quebec Nation that we're celebrating and not a ridiculous monarchy?”

Look, I agree with Gilles the monarchy should be scrapped. And since no one in Canada knows who is actually in the "Quebecois nation", I guess Gilles' interpretation that it doesn't include francophones outside of Quebec isn't more asinine than any others out there.
But can anyone explain to me what he has his hairnet in a bunch over here? As I read the Globe article I kept expecting some offensive comment to come out but...nada.
The Canadian Head of State is promoting a big event for Quebec City? Sounds good to me. She says the million francophones living outside of Quebec shouldn't be ignored? Sounds reasonable.
I'm really at a loss to explain what set Gilles off on this one.

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  • Huh. You'd think a well-read blog with an interesting topic like this would get a comment on this.

    Well, I'll take a shot.

    Duceppe isn't really concerned about francophones in Canada, but Quebecois as a group. That much is obvious.

    What Jean did, then, is subtly emphasize the importance of Canada as a country of francophones and anglophones, rather than a country founded by two peoples: the Quebecois and Canadians. It makes Quebec a key part of a bilingual country; instead of one unilingual French nation surrounded by another unilingual English one, like some odd linguistic Matroska doll.

    Duceppe really wants people to believe in "Canada as Matroska Country". It wedges apart Canada and Quebec, makes Quebec more distinctive within the federation, builds up the "two peoples" theory of Canada's character, buttresses the argument for separation and makes him more personally powerful as the "Quebec nation's" representative. It's very much in his interests.

    (Of course, Trudeau thought this was nonsense; killing this stone dead is the entire reason for official bilingualism. The Trudeau connection doesn't help either.)

    Any proposal by an agent of the Crown that weakens that Doll Theory by emphasizing that, no, Canada is not unilingual outside Quebec weakens him, weakens his case, weakens Quebec's "distinctiveness" and weakens his party. Of course he's going to go bananas. Wouldn't you?

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 7:28 p.m.  

  • Forget that? Is Sarkozy trying to give our head of state a tap on the royal derriere in that picture?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:30 p.m.  

  • Demosthenes has hit it on the nail. I share 100 % his explanation of Deceppe's tantrum.

    CG's comment 'And since no one in Canada knows who is actually in the "Quebecois nation"' -- remains the most interesting facet of this debate. Will we ever find out? As a French-speaking Ontarian, I would love to know.

    By Blogger Loraine Lamontagne, at 6:31 a.m.  

  • The Queen rocks.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 9:26 a.m.  

  • Ask Lawrence Cannon who's in the Quebec Nation - he'll explain it to you!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:44 a.m.  

  • Is NewfoundlandLabrador a nation too?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:37 a.m.  

  • Demosthenes - wouldn't it be a comment by the Crown, as opposed to agent?

    By Blogger matt, at 4:28 p.m.  

  • matt: Perhaps; the whole "Governor General" thing confuses me in that respect sometimes. Pretty as she is, Jean is not actually Canada's Queen, but just (symbolically) governs it on her behalf.

    It doesn't change things, though, except that having a francophone speak it probably didn't do any favors for Duceppe's temper.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 5:32 p.m.  

  • The funniest part is that nobody in Quebec or outside of Quebec would even know that Madame GG is in France if it weren't for the BQ PR machine.

    By Blogger Paul, at 8:53 p.m.  

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