Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Honour Declined

Separatist poet Raymond Levesque has turned down the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for poetry because he thinks Michaelle Jean has betrayed the cause:

"There are two nations in Canada, and I found it insulting that she doesn't recognize that we're a distinct people," Mr. Lévesque, 77, said yesterday in an interview. "We can remain in Canada, but at least we should be recognized as distinct. I found it very vexing."

Mr. Lévesque also accused Ms. Jean of "betraying" the sovereignty movement, echoing the view of hard-line sovereigntists who insist that Ms. Jean and her husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, moved in separatist circles and sympathized with their aspirations. Ms. Jean has denied this assertion.

"I'm not going to bow to someone who renounced us as sovereigntists," Mr. Lévesque said.


Mr. Lévesque, who has a severe hearing impairment, said he only received word of Ms. Jean's Sept. 27 inaugural speech after he accepted the honour.

And he said he only belatedly understood that Ms. Jean is commander-in-chief of Canada's armed forces, which he holds accountable for carrying out the arrest and detention of hundreds of Quebeckers when the War Measures Act was enacted in 1970.

Mr. Lévesque said he has also become convinced, after reading a new book on the subject, that the federal government misused public funds to "steal" the 1995 sovereignty referendum from the Yes side.

Had Mme. Jean been a candidate for an elected ceremonial presidency, she would have had to publicly explain the nature and depth of her involvement and commitment to the Quebec separatist movement to the electorate. We could have then judged her accordingly.

But so long as the governor generalship exists in its current form, we will continue to have appointments made by a process more secretive than a papal election conclave producing candidates who become embarrassments to both solitudes in Canada, and whose claims to stand above politics as head of state will always be in doubt.

Mme. Jean is showing herself to be neither federalist enough for English Canada nor nationalist enough for Quebec. A perfect Liberal muddle of a vice-regent from a perfect Liberal muddle of an appointment process.

Source: Globe and Mail

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