Tuesday, June 23, 2009

St. Jean Baptiste Day, Time To Get Out Of Town

The fact that the two anglophone acts, Bloodshot Bill and the band Lake of Stew were re-invited to perform in a Fete St-Jean show after being dis-invited should not be taken as a sign that the celebration is becoming more open towards minorities, nothing could be further from the truth.

The only reason for the re-integration of the anglos was the intolerable level of negative publicity.
After a couple of days of futilely defending the indefensible, organisers decided that it would be wiser to beat a tactical retreat...this time.

It is widely held by the nationalist media that the organisers were badly outplayed with some fuming that the movement continues to shoot itself in the foot. Look for novice Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste president, Mario Beaulieu, to learn from his mistake.

The vast majority sovereignists are sophisticated, liberal and dedicated to fairness. They will react, when their sense of fairness is assaulted and Mr. Bealiueu learned a cruel lesson that his version of Quebec nationalism is not shared by most in the sovereignty camp.

That being said, don't look for any changes to the Fete National program next year. What happened this year, vis-a-vis the anglo performers, was a one-off mistake that will not be repeated, not as long as the sovereignist
St-Jean-Baptiste Society runs the show. You can be assured that they've learned their lesson and that a 'special' committee will surely be organised to vet the 'bona fides' of next year's performers.

In fact, this year's controversy may well serve as a cautionary tale for nationalists, one that reminds radicals that without vigilance English will make insidious advances. To the barricades!

Guy A. Lepage , the wildly popular television personality and ardent sovereignist, who will be hosting this year's annual St. Jean Baptiste Day holiday show in Maisonneuve park, re-launched the controversy as to what the holiday represents when he stated that the show wasn't just a celebration of Quebec culture, but rather a political holiday that clearly promotes sovereignty. Richard Martineau, in his blog complains that the sovereignty movement has hijacked the holiday which he posits is supposed to be an all-encompassing celebration of Quebec society.
"Does this mean that the federalists are not welcome? There is already the Patriots' Day ... do we need another day to support the cause? Is it a good idea to "politicize"Saint-Jean Baptiste Day, a holiday that is supposed to be inclusive?"

Est-ce à dire que les fédéralistes ... ne sont pas bienvenue?
Il y a déjà la Journée des patriotes... Faut-il une autre journée appuyant La Cause?
Est-ce une bonne idée de "politiser" la Saint-Jean, une fête qui est censée être rassembleuse"? "
For Anglophones, there never really was a question as to what the holiday represented. Thirty years ago it was a common sight for Canadian flags to be burned by drunken merry-makers. It was an opportunity to bash Canada and anglophones alike. The francophone artistic community, who are overwhelmingly sovereignist, use the stage to salute and promote the movement. The government and the organizing committee are quick to remind us each year that the holiday is inclusive, but the reality is different.

As long as the government sub-contracts the organization of the celebrations to radical sovereignist groups instead of taking on the job itself, it will remain a holiday for separatists.

For Anglophones and Allophones, June 23-24, is a good time to get out of town, to the cottage or on vacation.
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  1. I've seldom seen anglophones celebrate this day, and I don't think it is mainly because of separatists hijacking this holiday (althouth some of these do).

    Sorry to say this, but my feeling is that few anglos feel any attachment to this province. They identify themselves with canada, or any other province they are from. Period.

    There are some exceptions (in the Mile-End most notably), and personnaly, I would welcome seeing more anglophones thinking of themselves as quebeckers. Granted, recent events did not help. But I don't think the fault is entirely on our side.

    As for me, I will do as I've always done, celebrate quietly with some of my anglophone neighbours (I live in Verdun)...


  2. Patriotes Day is also a funny one. I seemt o remember that the Patriotes were not rabid anglo-haters by any means, but 19th century liberals fighting a colonial autocracy. One of their major militanst was the anglo doctor Wolfred Nelson. At the same time, William Lyon MacKenzie and assorted other anglos were fighting for the same rep-by-pop and an end to British Imperialism in neighbouring Upper Canada....

  3. I'm officially unsubcribing today.... you are part of the problem, not the solution. Day after day, its the same old arguments and tired stories of English vs French. I'm an Anglophone living here and loving this province. I went out to a couple St-Jean parties on the 23rd and 24th and met with zero animosity even though I have very little French.

  4. Enkidu:
    Anglos DO identify themselves as Quebecers! As for them identifying with whatever province they're from, where do you think the 700,000+ Anglophones come from??? My family has been here for centuries (try the late 1800's). We are Quebecers! I have NEVER called any other province home...AND you know what, there are many of us here...born and raised Anglophone Quebecers!!! shame on you for being so ignorant!

  5. Well sorry, "Anonymous", but I was talking from my experience, which is that I've seen very few anglophones quebeckers identify themselves as such. Have you ever put Quebec's flag on your car/home/whatever? Have you ever celebrated Quebec's official Holiday? Have you?

    BTW, I do not pretend there are no anglophones in this province, I very well know you've been around here since the 18th century, thank you very much (how could we forget?). From my experience, though, they do not seem to identify themselves as quebeckers.

    And I was answering this blogger proposal to LEAVE the city instead of celebrating with francophones...

    Personnally, I would like to be wrong about this, I'm real tired of divisive rethoric in Canada, coming from both sides.

  6. And I for one am sorry for you''Endiku''. I am a French Quebecker, born and bred. However, I have never hung a Quebec flagfrom my ''car/home/whatever'' and I have never celebrated Quebec's official holiday. Why? Because even I, as a francophone, would never fool myself in believing that it celebrates anything other than the desire of Quebec's independence as well as the seemingly pan-sovereignist belief that anything other than French is not Quebecker.
    I identify as both a Quebecker and a Canadian. Yes it is true that being from Quebec is quite different from being From anywhere else in Canada. However, I will not celebrate St-Jean-Baptiste for as long as the festivities do not include members of all layers of Quebec society. I hope that one day I will see artists sing in French, English, Italian, Spanish and Arabic on June 24th. I truly hope that one day I will be able to wave a Quebec flag qithout having to distance myself from a group of people that believe that the only way I can live in this province is by conforming to their narrow understanding of Quebec society.

  7. @ Anonymous #2

    Well that's sad. I'm a french-canadian from Quebec City, former indepentist, it's true, but now ready to build a better Canada with my english brothers. But that does not stop me from celebrating Quebec's Holiday, as well as Canada's.

    It's true that some separatists bigots try to hijack this holiday, but abandoning it to them is simply admitting defeat. We can't wait for them to be open-minded, so why shouldn't we have a St-Jean which is open and tolerant?

    This is why I'd rather celebrate this holiday with my anglo neighbours, it's the best way to change it, better than giving it up to separatists.

  8. The last 2 comments were the best. Thanks for the compassion and rationality.

    Let's just get along with others. It feels better and takes less energy than hating.

    Peace Love Harmony