Surprise! Duceppe only cares about Quebeckers
Ever since its emergence in 1968, the Parti Quebecois and its federal stalking horse, the Bloc Quebecois, have often been fingered for having an insular view of Francophone issues.
In particular, Quebec sovereigntists have often pointed to the survival of French Canadian culture as the most important reason why Quebec needs to separate from Canada and become a sovereign state.
But if one ever points out that there are numerous Francophone communities throughout Canada -- not just in Quebec -- one often provokes a response from these individuals not much different from Dick Cheney: Wal-Mart greeter.
Such was the case today when Governor General Michaelle Jean conjured the utter gall to suggest that there are Francophones outside Quebec.
"There are a million of them out there fighting to save their language and their culture," Jean said. "And I will tell president Sarkozy, 'Look beyond Quebec.'"
Predictably, Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe is positively outraged. In particular, he's outraged that the Governor General -- a symbolic representative of the British monarchy -- would dare speak about matters pertaining to Francophone culture, or Quebec.
"I think France should look beyond Michaëlle Jean," Duceppe announced. "Mr. Speaker, we are elected. It's not like a monarchy. A monarchy is anti-democratic."
"The representative of the Queen repeated that the 400th anniversary celebrated France and Canada," he added. "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 we are celebrating, and not a ridiculous monarchy?"
Of course, there are two problems with this. First off, Jean said the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Quebec City's establishment was an opportunity to celebrate "permanence of the French fact" in North America, "more particularly" in Canada -- and all of its Francophone communities.
Secondly, the establishment of Quebec city very much is, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper reminded Duceppe, common heritage.
"Four hundred years ago in Quebec City our country was born," Harper replied. "The foundation of Quebec City is also the foundation of Canada. The Governor-General is the successor of Samuel de Champlain, the first governor of Canada. All Canadians celebrate that very important historic event. It's our common heritage."
Even Liberal leader Stephane Dion -- likely desperate for an opportunity to take a crack at Duceppe -- added in that Quebec City is "considered the cradle of francophones in North America, the cradle of Quebeckers, French Canadians and all Canadians."
All of these things are, of course, true. But unfortunately the insular ideology of the Quebec sovereigntist movement has little room for such truths.
One of these truths undermines a fundamental principle of the Quebec sovereigntist movement, and the two political parties that have been created to advance its agenda: the idea that Quebec is the single and absolute stronghold of Francophone culture in Canada.
It is not the case.
In fact, Francophone communities endure in Canada from coast to coast to this very day. From Bonneville, Alberta to Nipissing, Ontario to Shippigan, New Brunswick -- and countless communities in between -- there is an abundance of Francophone culture in every single province in Canada.
Naturally, this shakes the Quebec sovereigntist movement, which is so often preoccupied with the concept of the Pure Laine Quebecois, and built upon what is -- regardless of whether they will admit it or not -- a racial/cultural ideology that offers little room for outsiders.
Certainly, the Quebec sovereigntist movement has often courted the support of ethnic and cultural minorities when it needed them. Yet one also remembers Jacques Parizeau's xenophobic response when Quebec's ethnic communities helped to rebuke the vision forwarded by himself, Rene Levesque and Lucien Bouchard.
It's unsurprising that Gilles Duceppe would react so violently to the very notion that Francophones outside Quebec matter. Those whose path he continues were never really ready to make room within their narrow view of "Quebecois nationalism" for minorities inside Quebec. Why would they worry about a few lingual minorities outside Quebec?
In this day and age, it isn't often that the Bloc Quebecois show their true colours. But today Gilles Duceppe has done precisely that, and in effectively raising his middle finder to Francophones outside Quebec (many of whom, by the way, have roots in Quebec) and scores of great historical Quebeckers -- like sir Wildfred Laurier -- Duceppe has shown the amount of respect he has for Quebec's real history, and the real history of Canadian Francophones.
Precisely none. Especially when he has the opportunity to peddle the Quebec sovereingtist brand of historical revisionism.