Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard had a pretty rough week. He recently made a trip to Iceland, where he spoke at the Arctic Circle Assembly conference. What could his colleagues in the National Assembly have to say? Well, apparently, Couillard “failed to live up to his responsibilities as a representative of the Quebec nation” because he only spoke English at the conference. Yes, for real. CAQ leader and prospective George Segal impersonator François Legault attacked the Premier’s apparently undying love for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during a session in the Quebec legislature.
Let’s go over a few tidbits of information about this Iceland trip: it was an international meeting; a former French Prime Minister, the President of Iceland, and a Norwegian minister spoke at the conference with Couillard; they all spoke English.
Indeed, it seems that Legault is crying for no reason. Dr. Couillard fought against CAQ haterade by making a few wisecracks in their direction. The Premier asked Legault to visit New York or London and see for himself how practical French would be. He diagnosed Legault with a severe case of “oh-no-you-didn’t,” saying, “when we make important remarks, especially those involving the economic development of Quebec, it’s usually a good thing to make sure everyone understands what we are saying.” Ouch.
Following that debacle, Couillard found himself under fire for yet another event that occurred during his Iceland trip. Do you remember that critical piece of infrastructure in Montreal in terrible (and arguably dangerous) condition? Not the city itself. The bridge thing. Champlain Bridge.
When asked about the reports that the federal government is allegedly floating hockey legend Maurice Richard’s name for the revamped bridge, Couilard responded with, “I am not against the idea.” Once again, the vigilant guardians of Quebec’s holy culture fell into an uproar.
Stéphane Bédard, interim leader of the Parti Quebecois went on to say, “It’s like the tolls. Mr. Couillard has become too federalist, too Canadian. I invite him to get a grip. This is Quebec territory. It’s our bridge. It belongs to us.”
Okay, let’s dissect this steaming pile of feces piece-by-piece. If I’m not mistaken, Quebec is a province within the confederated framework we know as Canada. In fact, the majority of Quebec’s territory is made up of federal territory transferred to the province in 1912. By extension, citizens of Quebec are Canadian. They enjoy amenities like the Canadian passport, guaranteed liberties under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, fiscal opportunities attached to the Canadian dollar, and the satisfaction of being in a union that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Now that that’s clarified, let’s ask ourselves what is too Canadian? And how can a Canadian be too much like himself?
The real kicker is Bédard’s comment that the bridge belongs to the glorious People’s Republic of Quebec. Again, I don’t want to be a stickler, but the Champlain Bridge is actually owned and operated by the federal government. If the PQ truly wants to call it their bridge, they should dip into Peladeau’s not-so-blind trust and finance it. If not, let the feds handle it (because we know that the Parti Quebecois isn’t always the most competent when it comes to handling and projecting expenditures).
Jean-François Lisée, hopeless PQ leadership candidate and MNA, added his voice to the choir, preaching, “I have only two words: Champlain. Respect.” He has a point. Samuel de Champlain, like many historical figures, has a squeaky-clean record and deserves our unabashed love. Show some love for his twelve year old wife as well.
Just when you thought he was done, Lisée called the federal government’s alleged plans a display of “stupidity and contempt” for Quebecers. Is he a misunderstood teenager acting out for attention or is he just a moron? You be the judge.
All in all, Premier Couillard endured the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. His colleagues were probably jealous that he was having a bit of a bromance with French President François Hollande. Maybe Lisée wanted to be the only François in his life.
Amidst the kerfuffle, President Hollande said, “We have enough confidence in history to know it’s not a bridge or street which will cultivate memories.”
Oh…so it’s an insecurity thing? Listen, Lisée, I know things aren’t the way they used to be. You feel intimidated. You need to compensate for something that no longer has the prominence it used to. You’re older now. You have to realize that these things happen. You could try every trendy antidote on the market, but you’re only hurting yourself. When something is no longer capable of standing on its own accord, maybe it’s time to let it be.
Separatism is dead. Get over it.