I didn't really plan on writing this piece, because many good people have made a great effort in attempting to organize a rally that they believe will shock anglophones into action in defense of their language, their freedom, their religion and their way of life.
But inviting Howard Galganov, the infamous firebrand who will lob his personal version of fire and brimstone, taking no prisoners and pulling no punches, is just plain and simple, a strategic mistake.
I like Howard Galganov for his passion and his patriotism, but politics is the art of getting things done and he's has chosen a dead end path that has no chance of success and every chance of exacerbating our situation.
I actually believe in most of the things he does, yet I'm mature enough to realize that baiting those who opposes us with vitriolic and hateful speech, meant to enrage, hasn't the proverbial snowball's chance in Hell of resulting in any tangible improvement in our current language situation.
I'm reminded of a scene in the "Untouchables' movie, when some dubious methods are employed by good cops to elicit a bad guy to talk.
The crook soils himself in fear and sings like a canary, but the Canadian Mountie, cooperating with the FBI, is not amused and delivers one of my favorite movie lines of all time.
"MR. NESS I not approve of your methods!"
So too, gentle readers, I don't approve of Howard's methods, even though I believe in the principle he advances.
I've written before about his methods which in this humble blogger's opinion are too clever by half .
Revenge of the Galganov!
Howard Galganov- The Empire Strikes Back!
And so Howard will have his moment, he will call Quebecers and the Quebec government an evil naziesque entity, get his news blurb which will only convince Quebecers in the middle of the road and perhaps reachable, that the anglo rights movement is populated by unreasonable, angry and dangerous fanatics.
Here's a letter I received on the subject from a reader, whose effort deserves to be published.
"As we gird for Mr. Howard Galganov’s next planned spectacle June 30th in Montreal, it is clear from the vitriol on social media and elsewhere that the suggestion that many in Montreal’s growing bilingual community who are less than enthusiastic about his return, are being miscast as somehow anti-Canadian or anti-anglo.I know my position may be a disappointment to some, but in a free and democratic society, even those on the same side have differing opinions as to how to advance the same principles.
Far from it.
In the face of regressive language restrictions embodied in the upcoming Bill 14, and while we understand the importance of visibility on this issue, these ends should not come at any price. And most reasonable Quebecers - French, English or Allophone alike would consider a Galganov event a price too dear to pay.
In fact, it’s fair to say it would be difficult to imagine a more divisive figure and one more potentially damaging to the movement than Howard Galganov. His public statements, the vitriol with which he dismisses Quebec as a legitimate member and co-founder of the Canadian confederation and his decided location outside of the province, puts him in the unique position of possibly being the very worst representatives of Montreal anglophones or unity in general.
As we now see the promotional materials for Mr. Galganov’s rally being distributed, we are at once turned off by the imagery and frightened at what they suggest to be attitudes of anglo Montrealers or anyone who self-identifies as Canadian here in Quebec. We have come a very long way in the nearly two decades since the last referendum, but unfortunately it seems that Mr. Galganov hasn’t. While we would have hoped that his tack would have evolved to reflect the better wisdom of maturity, and even a cognizance and respect of the changing identities of all the people of this province, here he is once again, being “that angry guy”, at a time when Montreal and the province of Quebec least needs or deserves it.
In the very first line of the press release, Mr. Galganov states on our behalf “We are Canadians. We are not Quebecois” with the accompanying image of a Fleur de Lys being tattered and torn in the storming gale of his megaphone.
Clearly this isn’t just about a language rights fight anymore, but quite overtly an anti-Quebec rally. If there was one sure fire way to be certain that not a single legitimizing francophone would show up, this was it. How terribly, terribly sad that what might have been a clearly messaged stand against an unfair law (which a great many francophone Quebecers feel Bill 14 is), is dumbed down and turned negative at the hands of the guy with some money and clearly too much time on his hands.
At certain points along the path to a goal, be it protecting basic constitutional rights or nurturing a spirit of mutual celebration in place of enforcement, the players will naturally change as the movement becomes more inclusive and nuanced. While when it comes to language rights and the positive progression of Montreal to the promising bilingual city by the hill that it can be, unity is critical. However unity it comes not of a mere desire to have it, but as a bi-product of a truly inclusive, respectful and indeed visionary platform and cast of characters around which to unite.
Clearly, our complex collective of shared and overlapping identities as at once Canadians, Quebecers and Montrealers, however fragile, has come a very long way since 1995. One could go so far as to say that the last decade has represented our best example of a pax linguistica, coming to a head in the firm rejection of the Bloq Quebecois and overwhelming support of a true federalist voice of opposition in Ottawa. Further strong evidence is found in the Anglophone community, where bilingualism is the standard, and where the idea of being a Quebecer is no longer anathema to being proudly Canadian. This is the unique identity of the vast majority of not just anglo Montrealers, but Francophones and Allophones alike.
The sad irony in all of this is that if Quebec were finally cede (whatever the legalities), the blood of that amputation will be as much on the hands of likes of Howard Galganov as those of Mario Beaulieu, Pauline Marois and the unilingualist drones in the Parti Quebecois.
We hope with our growing collective hearts and spirit that true leaders will emerge to help us all move in a new direction that welcomes a more resonantly common vision for Quebec and Montreal.
In united bilingualism,