Man Without Qualities

Monday, January 22, 2007

One Step Beyond

For some reason known only to her, French presidential candidate Segolene Royal, who has never even visited Quebec, has been mindlessly asserting in public (!) that the province and France have "common values," including “sovereignty and Quebec’s freedom.” That bizarre and pointless provocation (what's she got against Canada anyway?) has drawn a rebuke from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest. The incident of course recalls a low point of French President Charles de Gaulle career when he declared "Vive le Quebec libre" (Long live free Quebec) during a visit to Canada in 1967. He is said to have been surprised to have to cut short his visit after making the comment. One wonders if he planned next to visit New Orleans and spice things up by shouting "Les Sud monteront encore" (The South will rise again!) in Jackson Square.

In any event, since this kind of thing keeps happening, perhaps the Canadian government should consider going one step beyond the predictable expressions of astonishment at the destructive stupidity of the meddling French politician de jour. Perhaps the time has come for Canada to really get behind some or all of the really amazing number of French regional separatist movements. Why should the Canadian government be deterred from finding "common values" including “sovereignty and Corsica's freedom” with, say, the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica just because that organization practices bombings, aggravated assault, armed bank robbery and extortion through "revolutionary taxes?" After all, their attacks are mostly aimed at public buildings, banks, touristic infrastructure, military buildings and other symbols of French control - usually not against persons. Maybe Ottowa should announce that it will consider making financial contributions to Corsica Nazione and Partitu di a Nazione Corsa, political parties advocating Corsican separation from France? Why not? Or maybe it would be more interesting for the Canadians to stimulate the ambitions of separatists seeking to break off some other piece of France with a (sometimes violent) separatist movement, such as Alsace-Lorraine or French Basque Country or Brittany or Nice or Normandy or Northern Catalonia or Savoy or (my favorite) Occitania?

Of course, one might reasonably ask what business does Canada have to foment the break up of France? But, then again, why the heck do French politicians think they have a role in stimulating the breakup of Canada? I guess it's just fun for some people to watch the scramble, the way some kids like to burn ants with a magnifying glass.

Dear Mr. Man Without Qualities,

General/President De Gaulle did his drive-by while I was growing up in a largely French-speaking area of Canada. Later on in life I lived and worked in France for a year. You ask, "... why the heck do French politicians think they have a role in stimulating the breakup of Canada?" No mystery, m'sieu. French politicians don't give a rat turd about Canada. Nor do they care about Quebec or French-speaking Canadians, whom they regard in somewhat the same way Manhattanites view Alabama or West Virginia. The country that French politicians hate is the United States. For them, Canada is simply one of its satellites (to use the exact terminology employed by De Gaulle). They do whatever they can to mess up the USA. Because the USA is too big and powerful to be confronted directly, they usually can't do much. The ethnic division of Canada gives them a rare opportunity to tweak the eagle's feathers (at least in their minds).

As for Canada threatening to support French separatist movements, that is such a good idea that it's already been done. Here's an example, admittedly written by a Canadian politician I loathe and despise:

Playing chess with the French
Anonymous - Since the US would be the first country to benefit from a break-up of Canada -- the English speaking provinces would immediately become more conservative and more closely allied with the U.S., and some might even join the Union -- the reasoning you describe seems very -- how shall I say? -- French.
Dear Anonymous (2):

"Since the US would be the first country to benefit from a break-up of Canada ... the reasoning you describe seems very -- how shall I say? -- French."

Really? My post says absolutely nothing about benefits to the US - or about any country other than Canada and France. If French reasoning somehow implies from such a post some position (ANY position) regarding the US in any way, then French logic is more subtle than I thought. Who knew what really went on at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques!

But since you raise the point, it is by no means clear to me that the US would benefit in the large from a breakup of Canada. The factors you site are far from a complete list of the ones one wold have to consider. I live next door to a nice Canadian couple here in Los Angeles, but I would hardly assume that my life would be benefitted by their divorce even if I knew ahead of time that the the husband (the more conservative of the two) would keep the house and we could go duck hunting more often following the divorce. It is enough that I should succeed; it troubles me when many others fail.

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