For All Nails #288: A Statement of Principles
by Phoebe Barton
Holiday guides to Quebec rarely failed to describe its seat of authority as inspiring, splendid, or some other verb denoting impressiveness. From the point of view of the common tourist, that was enough. It wasn't as if the epithets weren't fitting. The Palace had been built while the country was still flush from its vindication in 1889, and the architects had taken certain experimental liberties with the design.
It was an interesting palace, and it was an efficient center of government. What many people had long ago realized was that its uniqueness was its keystone. If any others like it had been built, the people would recognize it for the monstrosity that it was. For Marc Bastien, Prime Minister of the Associated Confederation of Quebec, it was a symbol of self-reliance. How fitting it was, he thought as he walked down the wood-panelled hall, that he would be deciding a new dimension of that self-reliance inside it today. As usual, the Cabinet was already assembled by the time he arrived. Bastien liked that, since early starts meant early finishes, and early finishes meant he had more time to lock himself in his office and drink whiskey while watching traffic. He'd certainly had enough whiskey to drink after news of Burgoyne's latest stunt had reached him.
"Good morning, everyone," Bastien said as he settled into the chair reserved for him at the head of the meeting table. "I know that we all want to start dealing with what the Right Honourable Mr. Skinner" -- the words were loaded with sarcasm -- "has dropped in our laps. Unless anyone has anything more important to bring to our attention, I propose we should deal with the issue of the flag first." FN1
"It's nothing but a rag," said Martin Landry, the Minister of National Development, and accompanied the words with a scowl. "And it's an insult to us. They throw away our heritage and expect us to follow like obedient children. We can't let those scraps darken our skies." Bastien made a mental note to ensure that the Minister of National Development was well-rested or, at least, had been given some tea before subsequent cabinet meetings. Best to save combative language for the press, he thought.
"No matter what we do, I believe we should confer with the government of Nova Scotia and, if possible, make a joint declaration," said James Duferre, Minister of Home Affairs -- unofficially, the Minister of Everything -- and backbone of two decades' worth of cabinets. He seemed to stare at everyone else in the room over the glasses that rested low on his face. "Cooperation in this circumstance might well force the CNA to pay closer attention to the situation."
"If anything, it'll force them to pay closer attention to the way they word their bills," said Gaetan Laroux, Observer to the Grand Council. FN2 "That's electrified the public more than anything else. Six points in the star to represent six confederations in the CNA? If it's not a tacit admission of our sovereignty, it certainly shows that Quebec doesn't enter into their thinking at all. The people resent it."
"Then our responsibility is clear," Bastien said. "Let's harness that resentment and put it towards fulfilling our own goals, rather than letting it grow out of control on its own." He turned to the Minister of Finance, who seemed to be focusing on an imperfection in the table's surface. "Claude, do you still have that economic reform proposal around?"
"Proposal... yes, yes of course, Mr. Prime Minister," said Claude O'Connell. "I've had a little time to work on it on and off since the last time you asked about it... I think you'll be pleasantly surprised..."
"Excellent," Bastien said. "I want you to have it leaked to the press in time for the Sunday edition."
"With all due respect, sir, I'm not sure if it's ready for that," O'Connell protested in a voice far more nervous than usual. "It's only just an outline, there are still a lot of holes to fill..."
"Let's let the public worry about that, then," Bastien said. "We give them the bones of a new financial policy and let popular opinion hash out the details. In a year or two we'll pick the ideas we like most and add them to our own strategy. It distracts the people and gives us more space to concentrate on important things."
"Such as a more permanent response to this action," came Duferre's carefully modulated and ordered words. Sometimes he reminded Bastien of a headmaster from his boyhood. "We cannot base a policy on simple defiance, nor can we refuse to fly a new flag but accept a new President."
"You sound like you already have a plan," said Lucretia Tremblay, the Minister of Transportation. She then fell silent, which Bastien felt confident in imagining would last until and unless the subject shifted to the railways or the locopistes. FN3
"As I see it, we have two options," Duferre said, looking down at the sheaf of notes he'd brought with him to the meeting. "First of all, we can maintain our ancestral links with the British crown rather directly, by placing Quebec directly under the authority of King Henry X."
"Out of the question," Landry said with a sneer. "We may have done well with a Viceroy, but that's all he was -- a figurehead, a ceremonial standard for the troops to rally around. We'd look like fools if we abandoned the CNA on this for doing this without our input, only to run straight into the arms of a monarch who would be even less accountable to the Québécois people!"
"The Nats wouldn't mind it too much," said Matthew Armstrong, the Minister of Labour. "At the very least, it might quiet things down upcountry."
"At the expense of our national soul," Landry shot back. "You can't be seriously considering agreeing with them anyway! They're nothing but a pack of rabble-rousing anarchists with delusions of grandeur!"
"Gentlemen, please, let's back away from this and focus on the task at hand," Bastien said. "James, I imagine you don't support that first proposal much yourself?"
"No, I don't," Duferre replied. "I was more concerned with presenting multiple possibilities."
"Very well, then," Bastien said. "What's your second option?"
"It's simple," Duferre said, taking off his glasses and clasping his hands together. "We petition the United Kingdom to install an independent Viceroy in Quebec."
"Burgoyne won't like it," Armstrong said. "They'll see it as a slap in the face and a rejection of their authority."
"Then they'll take that slap and they'll like it!" Landry shot back. "I don't recall them considering our authority in high regard when they made this decision. The only thing we're rejecting is their rejection in the first place!"
"Hmm," Bastien said, silent in thought for a moment. This might be just the thing we need to preempt those damned Patriots. They've been crowing for years about the need for greater independence... won't they love having their enemies being the ones who give it to them?
"It's an intriguing idea," Bastien said, finally. "Do you think Britain will be receptive to it?"
"With the Confederation outside of their orbit, I'd imagine Britain would welcome the retention of any influence in this continent," Duferre said. "They might well choose to make a victory out of it as well, celebrating how we oppose the shameful decision of North America or some such drivel."
"Very interesting," Bastien said. "James, look into that further. As soon as this meeting is over, I will call Kingston FN4 and discuss this matter with Governor Hawkwood. Until we determine what the end result of this is going to be, though, this matter will not be advertised. Let them wonder what's going to hit them. Is everyone in agreement?"
The heads at the table bobbed in agreement.
"Excellent. Now then, unless there's anything else dealing with the Viceroy situation, let's turn our attention to..."
"Actually, there is one thing," said Landry. "The new flags are going to arrive here soon. The first ones are probably on their way. What do you want to do about them?"
"It's simple, really," said Lucretia Tremblay. All eyes went to the unassuming Minister of Transport.
"Sew them into blankets and sell them at a discount to the poor."
- From the Pickering News and Inquirer, Page A5
- 17 April 1976
MODERN QUEBEC: CONFEDERATION OR COLONY?
By Alan Fairfax
It can be said without hyperbole that the Executive Revision Act is one of the most important political acts since the Plebiscite, if only in the degree to which it affects the politics of Quebec. In one swift stroke, the central North American government repudiated the British monarchy, abolished its symbols and discarded a system that has bound the two titans of the English-speaking world together for a century and a half.
However the streets may cry with this abandonment of the heritage of Ezra Gallivan, the new flag of the Confederation of North America has provided a focus for frustration and resentment within this nation. If the flag's new star is six-pointed to represent the six confederations that form North America, then Quebec is in an interesting kind of political limbo indeed.
Whatever its intentions in this matter, the government of North America has shown that the concerns of Quebec and, for that matter, Nova Scotia do not enter into its decision-making process. We are subordinated to Burgoyne for our ultimate financial policies, our diplomacy, and our defense. In 1889 we won the right to deal with our own issues while losing the freedom to have our voice heard outside our own borders.
Moreover, if Burgoyne cannot think to consult Quebec on an issue as minor as the flag we fly, can they really be trusted to consider Quebec's own interests? There are many policies that affect a citizen of Quebec and a citizen of the Northern Confederation equally, but the Northern Confederationist is possessed of a vote that allows his voice to be heard. Quebec, having been granted domestic independence in exchange for a confederated voice, does not have that recourse. It may be a cynical comparison to say that modern-day Quebec is nothing more than a colony of the Confederation of North America, but there remains a tincture of truth in it. We are subordinated to a much larger and more powerful political system that determines the nature and extent of our relationship with other powers. The Quebec mint prints its own money, but the interest and exchange rates for that currency are set in Burgoyne. We have no recourse to change an unfriendly government should one ever arise, and no means to stand up for Quebec when it is threatened.
For all of its good, though the Plebiscite gave us peace and security, it is now coming to light that it stripped us of something far more important -- our independence to act.
- Excerpted from "Selected Anti-Governmental Organizations in Quebec,"
- a press brief compiled by Sûreté Royale du Québec, 1976.
The following is a partial listing of political organizations whose charters or activities indicate their opposition to the government of the Associated Confederation of Quebec as it is currently constituted. Although most are currently peaceful in nature and have not used violence to achieve their aims, all are under police surveillance in anticipation of potential future radicalization.
This information package is distributed to all newspapers covering such organizations within Quebec to ensure the factual correctness.
The SOLDATS DE LA LIBERTÉ were founded in 1966 with the intention of separating Quebec from the Confederation of North America and establishing Quebec as an independent nation. Their activities are limited primarily to Montreal and Quebec City, and do not extend far beyond the publication of pro-independence pamphlets. They have experienced a significant growth in manpower in the last two years, with their absorption of the rival FILS DE PAPINEAU organization in 1974.
The JEFFERSONIST FRONT OF QUEBEC is dedicated to an overthrow of the legitimate government of Quebec and its replacement by a revolutionary state. They are strong opponents of the Roman Catholic Church and some of its members have been implicated in attempted firebombings of churches in 1970 and 1972. Their mainstream activities are confined to the production of pamphlets, publication of Jeffersonist material and public rallies. This organization is believed to be receiving financial and advisory support from the Jeffersonist Republic of Boricua.
The SONS OF LAWRENCE are an extremist Huronia-based organization which seeks to expel all Francophones from the territory of Huronia. They take their name from Colonel Charles Lawrence, the British officer responsible for the deportation of the Acadians from Nova Scotia in 1755. They are believed to have ties with the criminal underground in York and Dorchester, and are thought to be responsible for recent attacks against Québécois travellers in those cities. Some members of this organization are known to have ties with National Renewal movements in the Confederation of North America.
The FRONT DE LIBERATION DE L'ACADIE is not based in Quebec, but operates within its borders and has sympathizers within that nation. Founded by Rheal Cormier in 1968, the FLA is dedicated towards establishing an independent Acadian homeland within Nova Scotia. The organization is currently suffering from a lack of members and a hostile population. They are believed to be pursuing a relationship with the SOLDATS DE LA LIBERTÉ.
QUEBEC, NOVA SCOTIA REFUSE EXECUTIVE REVISION
Miranda Gagnon, Gazette Staff
The governments of Quebec and Nova Scotia have refused to implement the Executive Revision Act, and have elected to maintain their traditional links to the British monarchy, according to a joint statement released yesterday.
The two Associated Provinces are in the process of petitioning the British government for Viceroys independent of the former office in the Confederation of North America. This comes after the adoption of a new North American flag, the design of which did not recognize Quebec or Nova Scotia.
Prime Minister Marc Bastien applauded the joint statement, saying that "the will of Quebec has been done. We will not abandon our heritage for the crimes of a single generation."
Governor Ethan Hawkwood of Nova Scotia echoed the Prime Minister's statements, saying that...
(continued on page A3)
Forward to FAN #289: Attending Union College.
Forward to 16 April 1976: It's the Real Thing.
Forward to CNA politics: An Independent Quebec Within a United CNA.
Return to For All Nails.