Category Archives: Quebec

Book Review: Legacy – How French Canadians Shaped North America

Legacy

The editors of Legacy start and finish the book, in between those pages are the stories of twelve French-Canadians, some I knew of and some I have not – though their names were known to me as street names in Gatineau, across the river from Ottawa.

Andre Pratté contributes the Foreword and Jonathan Kay the Afterword. In the foreword, Pratte hints of who might be considered for a second volume as they were left out. Kay writes in the afterword of his ‘regret’ as a Anglo-Quebecer and how English Canada needs to know about these twelve French Canadians, but also that there are others that need to be heard and known of west of the Ottawa River. Both speak with pride about the role French Canadians played in the growth and prosperity of North American.

Kay says as much in a reply to a tweet I wrote after completing the book.

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My dilemma in reading Legacy was HOW do I read it? Do I read the essays in the order I want, or do I follow (trust) the Editors Pratte and Kay have purposely placed these essays in a particular order? I trusted the editors. 

Legacy was an interesting read, the subject matter was great, but because of the format, I was as at the mercy of the contributors of the book. There were some essays that I had difficulty getting through because of the writer’s style, but I got through them and learned more about the contributions our Quebec cousins made to Canada and North America.

In reading some of the essays I had questions as in with Deni Ellis Bechard’s essay on Jack Kerouac I couldn’t tell if it was written when Kerouac was alive as Bechard doesn’t mention his death in 1969. I was drawn into the life of Montreal’s Paul David and his medical accomplishments. The political tour de force of Thérese Casgrain left me wondering why we had not heard of her and why her name is not mentioned with the Famous Five when it comes to women who leave their mark on this country.

In reading the essays on Thomas-Louis Tremblay and Georges Vanier, their heroics and bravery were outstanding. They are connected through their membership of the 22nd Battalion, the Van Doos and their battles in WWI. It’s interesting that another great Canadian has such a presence in the life of Vanier, Vincent Massey was the foil for everything that Vanier stood for – but both became Governor Generals of Canada, George Vanier was appointed Canada’s Regal representative following the death Massey in 1959.

What I anticipated the most ended up being the most difficult to read. Lucien Bouchard’s essay of Henri Bourassa was riveting. It being a hard read, it forced me go through it twice, I am glad I did. Bourassa ‘s battle with the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XI is well documented, as is his passion for Quebec, a passion that lives on long after his death.

From explorers Pierre de la Vérendrye and Albert Lacombe to Jacques Plante and Kerouac, Legacy brings nine men and three women, all French Canadians and all-important contributors to North American Anglophones AND Francophones to learn about. Writers Ken Dryden (Jacques Plante), the afore mentioned Lucien Bouchard Bourassa), Samantha Nutt (Casgrain), Roméo Dallaire (Tremblay) and Jean Charest & Antoine Dionne-Charest (George-Étienne Cartier) add their voices through their words on Quebec’s and French Canada’s history and place in North America.

Surely there are more than enough subjects for a Volume II.

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I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

 

Three Races

There are currently three ‘National’ political leadership races underway. Each has its own narrative in the early months of the process.

CPC

The Conservative Party of Canada came out of a weekend convention the last weekend of May and gave the first three contestants plenty of airtime to discuss the early stages of their campaigns and to tell their story and why they are running to be only the 2nd leader of the CPC. It has been a pretty tame race until this week when Maxime Bernier threw down the first major policy platform – the end of supply management for dairy, chicken and egg producers. Bernier called it a subsidy being paid for by 35 million Canadians. It’s a pretty intense subject in the farming community especially since the Federal government has yet to ratify the recently negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership. The announcement came just two days before a major convoy of Quebec dairy farmers came to Parliament Hill to protest in favour of supply management and Quebec dairy concerns. When Bernier was asked what he thought his leadership rivals would say of his announcement and supply management, Maxime asked the reporter to make sure he asked Michael Chong and Kelly Leitch that question to start the debate. As of now, neither Chong nor Leitch have made any public comments.

The CPC membership meanwhile waits and bides its time waiting for the party heavyweights to decide if they will challenge Bernier, Chong and Leitch for the Leadership to be decided in May 2017.

NDP 2

The NDP Leadership race created waves by who decided NOT to seek the top job of the party. Nathan Cullen, who came third in the leadership contest won by Thomas Mulcair, announced that he would not be running. Citing his young family, Cullen will focus on his real pet project – the electoral reform promised by Trudeau. He will lead the NDP into the committee and in the house to their preferred proportional representation model for electoral reform. No single person has announced the intention to take a run at the NDP Leadership. With a small caucus to draw from the list is going to be limited of who might go for it. Those who have publically stated anything about the Leadership include Quebec MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau. Two other names being bounced around from outside the federal scene are Mike Layton, Jack’s son, a Toronto City Councillor and perhaps a more intriguing person, Ontario NDP Deputy Leader and MPP Jagmeet Singh.   Having seen Singh work in Queens Park, I can say he is a smart, likeable, young, well-spoken and intelligent politician that would be able to bring a new young activism to the federal party.

UPDATE: Since I posted this on the weekend, Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale-High Park) is set to announce that she will become the 1st official candidate to replace Thomas Mulcair as the Federal NDP Leader. Here is the link to the story posted in the National Post: Three Races

 

PQ

The 3rd National leadership race is that of the Parti Quebecois following the quick departure Pierre Karl Peladeau, members of the PQ will select their new leader October 7th. The PQ race is unlike the others because as of Friday June 3rd, thera are now five candidates, with Lawyer Paul St-Pierre Plamondon seeking support for bringing the party back to its roots of giving Quebecers a political party to call their own. He has written a book titled ‘Les orphelins politiques’. He joins Alexandre Cloutier , Veronique Hivon, Jean-Francois Lisee and Martine Ouellet in the hunt for the leadership.

The main platform that seems to reach us outside of Quebec is that of a referendum. Of the five candidates Ouellet is the only one calling for a referendum in the first mandate of a PQ government. Ouellet ran against Peladeau for the leadership in 2015 and finished third, Cloutier also rain in 2015, coming in second. Of all the five candidates, Plamondon is the only one that is not sitting in the Quebec National Assembly as a MNA. Lisee also sought the leadership last year but was unable to secure the signatures required to meet requirements to run. Veronique Hivon was the Minister in the Marois government responsible for bring in the assisted death legislation that is in place in Quebec. In that process she established a reputation of being able to reach across party lines to get support for the bill.

As the campaign approaches October 7th this leadership has the potential to have one or more out “Quebec” another as they attempt to be seen as the one to bring the PQ back to power to govern within a confederation or to govern as their own nation. I won’t want to try to call heads or tails on this, but it will be fun to follow and read.

There you have it, three different leadership races, and three races going at different speeds. Each has the chance to shape the national political landscape.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.