Sunday, February 22, 2009

Patrick Bourgeois and the RRQ's Dangerous Victory

Most sovereignists and some journalists would have you believe that the re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham was called off because the growing opposition by both mainstream anglophones and francophones. The idea is patently false. See my previous post entitled Josee Legault- Out to Lunch Once Again.

The Reseau de resistance du Quebecois, a small radical sovereigntist organization and it's spokesperson Patrick Bourgeois deserve all the credit.
A potential violent protest hinted by the RRQ, was the overriding consideration in the decision by organiser's to deep six the event.

Up to now, the tiny, year old group was satisfied with organizing a few protest and vigils and it's most dangerous activity was some alleged graffiti tagging. They were roundly ignored (except by the police and various security agencies) and spent most of their time preaching to themselves and the converted in separatist bars and coffee shops around Quebec City.

In protesting the battle re-enactment at Plains of Abraham, the organization changed tactics and whether by accident or design, stumbled onto a magical formula. It appears that the mere suggestion of violence, even couched in the most oblique terms is enough to set the dogs running.

The Parti Quebecois was so alarmed by M. Bourgeois statements which they themselves described as "inappropriate comments with seemingly violent undertones.", that they pulled all advertising from M. Bourgeois separatist revue, "Le Quebecois" and severed all relations and associations with the radical. Until now the newspaper derived up to 80% of it's revenues from Bloq and PQ advertising.

Abandoned by the PQ and the Bloc, will the organization now pursue an even more radical profile? Given it's success in the Plains of Abraham affair it seems likely that they might well use the same successful tactic in the future. It's hard to put the genie back into the bottle.

Patrick Bourgeois is not a hothead, by any means. He is passionate, educated and articulate. In his blog he denies that he ever threatened anything violent and that he only promised acts of civil disobedience. In speaking with a reporter from La Presse, Mr.
Bourgeois did say that there was a risk of violence because of the 'excited' situation. If you read French, you can read his defence here.
Whether he threatened violence or only hinted at it, his opponents believed that a violent threat was made and reacted in consequence.

Now all of this cannot be lost on the radical sovereignist movement. With one little threat of violence, perceived or real, the RRQ accomplished something they never had before, a change in public policy based on their actions.

The RRQ and
Patrick Bourgeois are at a crossroads. Getting dumped by the PQ and the Bloc may have a liberating effect that will allow the group to push it's agenda in the more radical direction they demonstrated in the Plains of Abraham dossier.

I predict that the group will use similar tactics in the future. Once success is achieved, it's hard to go back to old unsuccessful methods.

What's next on the hit list?
If I had to guess, it's the future MUHC super hospital in Montreal. Mr.
Bourgeois and his cohort Pierre Falardeau have been kvetching about the project and it's threat to the French language for a while now.
It is a perfect target.

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