Ranking high on the lengthening list of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois’s dubious political talents is her unerring ability to draw precisely the wrong conclusions from history – especially other people’s history.
Earlier this year, while on a trip to Scotland, the Partis Quebecois leader gamely offered her help to the independence-minded Alex Salmond, that country’s First Minister. She would, she said, send him a few morsels of information from her province’s 1995 referendum on sovereignty. His reaction, in turn, was to go out of his way to avoid being seen with her in public.
Then, last week, she told Le Devoir that ethnic diversity lies at the heart of social unrest in England, where, apparently, “they’re knocking each other over the head and throwing bombs because of multiculturalism and nobody knowing any more who they are in that society.”
Now, we discover through the Globe and Mail that she believes “France is a model of integration.” Further, she suggests that it is “the most beautiful example . . . (it) has a very impressive number of people (from North Africa) and has found a space to live well with immigrants from other regions.”
Wrong, wrong and wrong, again.
The roots of Scotland’s independence movement are so vastly dissimilar from Quebec’s, the comparison does not bear making. And even if they weren’t, what possible use would the PQ’s trove of documents from its failed attempt to sever Quebec from the rest of Canada be to the leaders of the Scottish National Party?
As for England, sectarian and ethnic violence — which, it’s worth noting, is no more rampant than it is in south-central Los Angeles — has less to do with “multiculturalism” than it does with the nation’s proximity to radicalized networks of European terror cells. This is a fact with which it and its continental neighbours have been dealing for decades.
And what of France, that “model of integration?”
An item from a BBC report this summer should settle the question:
“Crowds of youths have thrown stones at French police and set fire to cars in a second night of disturbances in the Paris suburb of Trappes. The trouble was sparked by the arrest of a man whose wife was told by police on Thursday to remove an Islamic face-covering veil, banned in public. He has been accused of trying to strangle the officer. Up to 300 people attacked a police station in Trappes on Friday night where the man was being held.”
Not for nothing, but methinks Ms. Marios’s staff might want to review the briefing notes they prepare for her before she finds occasion to pontificate in public. For them, and the rest of Quebec, this is getting embarrassing. And it seems to be going around.
In a recent column, my former colleague, the Globe’s Jeffry Simpson worried that Quebec’s leadership appears a tad unhinged, as Ms. Marois and company begin to “secularize” their civil service à la France. “These are the kind of policies that make Quebec look intolerant and slightly crazy in pursuit of some notional idea of the Quebec identity,” he wrote. “After all, the number of non-francophone employees of the province is tiny. From a practical point of view, this (charter of values) and the laws that might flow from it represent a fake solution to a non-problem.”
For Ontario, at least, this phony fix is turning into an opportunity.
“We don’t care what’s on your head,” an advertisement for Lakeridge Health of Oshawa reads. “We care what’s in it . . .Our focus is on safety and quality, and we’re looking for people like you to join our team of health professionals.”
If Ms. Marois cares nothing for most of what’s guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, she should nonetheless scrutinize Section 6, Subsection 2, which reads: “Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right (a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and (b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.”
It’s mighty tough to draw the wrong conclusion from that.