Gov. Gen. says Quebec empowered in Canada, not 'oppressed and colonized'


sanctus
#1
By Alexander Panetta

OTTAWA (CP) - She once famously raised a toast with prominent Quebec sovereigntists, but Michaelle Jean has now tossed aside the rationale for her home province's independence.

The Governor General rejects the notion that Quebec has been either mistreated or hampered by its attachment to Canada.

"I never saw us, today's Quebecers, as being on bended knee, oppressed, and colonized," Jean said in a recent French-language interview with The Canadian Press.

"We have plenty of power and are a rich society, with a voice in the world."

Jean herself drew almost surreal levels of international attention last month as she was followed through Africa by jubilant crowds that included everyone from shoeless villagers and dancing schoolchildren to local dignitaries.

She plans to follow those first state visits with a trip to Afghanistan in 2007.

In a wide-ranging interview last month, Jean declined to answer when asked whether Quebec was a nation and said it would be inappropriate for her to wade into the political debate that was raging at the time.

But she did say her home province is a unique entity within Canada - by virtue of its language, culture and civil code - and noted that it has long desired such recognition.

Jean once felt compelled to issue a press release announcing that she and her husband had never "adhered" to the sovereigntist ideology.

She made the move amid controversy last year following the release of a 13-year-old video that showed her raising a glass with several sovereigntists as they toasted independence.

She says independence would weaken Quebec.

"We live in a world where large alliances are important. I'm among the Quebecers who feel that way," she said.

"I believe in the federation. The very definition of federation means coming together. I like that idea, of coming together. To bring together your strengths, your imagination, your ideas, your creativity.

"That's how I want to live."

Jean bluntly admits she didn't know the rest of Canada very well before she took office last year.

Her personal CV had been lengthy: Haitian-born refugee, battered-women's activist, Italian teacher, cancer-survivor, television journalist, and mother of an adopted daughter.

But outside her home province her experience of Canada had been limited to visits to Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba.
"Ask Canadians and one out of three will answer like me - no, I don't think I knew it well," she says.
"I don't think we know this country well - all its subtleties, all its nuances, all its faces and realities."
What has most fascinated her in her travels, she says, is how similar Canadians are from coast to coast.
She says she hears the same concerns about the same problems, like housing shortages and spousal abuse, wherever she travels.
"What interests me isn't our differences," she says.
"We've focused so very, very much on our differences. It's understandable. Sometime in order to define yourself, you do it by focusing on your differences from others.
"But what I've discovered is how much we have in common - how many common concerns we have."
She says every Canadian should have the same privilege of getting to know the country, and she recently called for travel subsidies to spur the domestic tourism industry.
Somehow those remarks last September triggered a furor in her home province. They were reported and interpreted in Quebec to suggest she was singling out Quebecers and lecturing them alone to get out more.
It was not the only time Jean found herself under fire in the Quebec media.
There is a popular urban legend in the province - fuelled by misleading media reports - that Jean was drunk during a public speech last year.
In that 2005 address to Ottawa's press gallery dinner, she waved a wine glass as a stage prop during a speech that was intended as a spoof, at an annual event where political figures are expected to make fun of themselves.
There was no mention in any of the reports casting aspersions on Jean that at that same event then-prime minister Paul Martin pretended to speak like a schoolgirl and NDP Leader Jack Layton sang an entire song about how he had no principles.
Jean says she expected to take some flak back home when she agreed to become the Canadian representative of the British monarchy.
She shakes her head when asked whether she considered quitting during those controversies, or during the one following her appointment.
"No, never. Never. Even in the difficult moments - it can hurt on the personal level - what's most important is learning from it," she said.
"It only makes you stronger. . . . You can't say, 'Oh my god, what am I doing here?' It's only obvious that if a Quebec woman enters that role it won't be unanimously popular."
She shakes her head again when asked whether she had ever considered entering politics at any point in her life.
Jean says the ceremonial role of Governor General suits her just fine and allows her to make a difference in her own way.
"People say, 'But it's just a symbolic role,' " she said.
"Well, symbols are powerful. Symbols speak. Symbols have an impact. . . .
"I don't always envy the politicians. They have constraints, a responsibility to follow the party line."
The ceremonial nature of the job hardly seemed to matter to the tens of thousands who joyfully greeted Jean recently during her five-country tour of Africa.
There is a common theme to the trips she makes at home and abroad.
It is that even in the most struggling places, in the face of the most intractable social problems, there are people working every day to defeat misery and cynicism.
In Africa they include peacekeeping teachers, medical workers, microfinance experts, and villagers in rural Mali who defeated malnutrition with better-quality crops and cultivation techniques.
Jean's visit generated a few headlines back home about some of these success stories and about the Canadians who played a role in them.
It was nothing compared with the avalanche of coverage she received from the African media.
A memorable example came when she urged Mali's national parliament to enact a long-stalled bill that would let women own property, gain an inheritance and seek a divorce.
The next day a leading Malian newspaper columnist compared her to legendary athletes Muhammad Ali and soccer star Pele as symbols of black pride.
In Algeria, the former television journalist held a roundtable discussion with colleagues there who saw many of their own die during the country's recent civil war.
She spoke to them about how reporters in her native Haiti also braved intimidation and violence as they reported on that country's struggle to become a democracy.
Jean says she's still fighting the same battles as Governor General that she did when she reported on social problems and hosted documentaries at Radio-Canada.
"I'd rather discuss with people what they can accomplish - about their power over their own lives - instead of about their powerlessness," she said.
"To me, powerless is like a provocation. I like to defy it. And that's what I felt throughout (the Africa) trip."


Copyright © 2006 Canadian Press
 
Numure
#2
She is, by her actions and words, a true Québécoise. And no, I'm not being anti-Canadian by saying so. Our Nation is recognised, so she is a Québécoise :P.
 
CDNBear
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctusView Post

But outside her home province her experience of Canada had been limited to visits to Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba.
"Ask Canadians and one out of three will answer like me - no, I don't think I knew it well," she says.
"I don't think we know this country well - all its subtleties, all its nuances, all its faces and realities."
What has most fascinated her in her travels, she says, is how similar Canadians are from coast to coast.
She says she hears the same concerns about the same problems, like housing shortages and spousal abuse, wherever she travels.
"What interests me isn't our differences," she says.
"We've focused so very, very much on our differences. It's understandable. Sometime in order to define yourself, you do it by focusing on your differences from others.
"But what I've discovered is how much we have in common - how many common concerns we have."
She says every Canadian should have the same privilege of getting to know the country, and she recently called for travel subsidies to spur the domestic tourism industry.
Somehow those remarks last September triggered a furor in her home province. They were reported and interpreted in Quebec to suggest she was singling out Quebecers and lecturing them alone to get out more.
It was not the only time Jean found herself under fire in the Quebec media.
There is a popular urban legend in the province - fuelled by misleading media reports - that Jean was drunk during a public speech last year.
In that 2005 address to Ottawa's press gallery dinner, she waved a wine glass as a stage prop during a speech that was intended as a spoof, at an annual event where political figures are expected to make fun of themselves.
There was no mention in any of the reports casting aspersions on Jean that at that same event then-prime minister Paul Martin pretended to speak like a schoolgirl and NDP Leader Jack Layton sang an entire song about how he had no principles.

This is symptomatic of the separatist propoganda machine at work in Quebec. Selfserving misrepresentations of the facts, only to serve a common misguided goal.

Do I beleive she was not a force for the separatist movement at one point? Absolutely she was. This only shows the political "which ever way the Wind blows" mentality she posesses. As do most politically motivated asshats.

Yet dispite her flip flopping. She speaks in droves on the central problem and notion of separatism. It is a complete lack of understanding of the country past the borders of Quebec. In fact, as the average French Canadian sees him/herself as distinct, it is more a suttle form of racism, then a yurning for independance.
 
Numure
#4
She has never been a force for separatism. Her Husband, yes. But not her. She wasnt even that known in the movement. But, she did accept a nifty Canadian post, I wouldnt expect her to support Québec separatism, at least in public.
 
CDNBear
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by NumureView Post

She has never been a force for separatism. Her Husband, yes. But not her. She wasnt even that known in the movement. But, she did accept a nifty Canadian post, I wouldnt expect her to support Québec separatism, at least in public.

Perhaps my definition of "force" is not the same as yours, I see you as a "force" for separation. If she raised a glass in it support, in my eyes, she's a "force", imho.
 
Numure
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBearView Post

Perhaps my definition of "force" is not the same as yours, I see you as a "force" for separation. If she raised a glass in it support, in my eyes, she's a "force", imho.

Indeed, we don't have the same definition. With your definition then, I agree.
 
CDNBear
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by NumureView Post

Indeed, we don't have the same definition. With your definition then, I agree.

Cool,

What about my assertion that, perhaps the views of the rest of Canada behind the separatist movement, might be jaded by a misleading media or lack of experience?
 
s_lone
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBearView Post

In fact, as the average French Canadian sees him/herself as distinct, it is more a suttle form of racism, then a yurning for independance.


WHAT? That's gibberish CDNbear. If I follow your reasoning, pretty much everyone in this world would be racist because everyone considers him or herself distinct from someone else. Natives consider themselves distinct from Quebec and Canada. Quebecers consider themselves distinct from Canadians. Canadians consider themselves distinct from US Americans. You'll have to elaborate your point if you want me to swallow your claim that French Canadian 'distinctiveness' is rooted into racism.
 
csanopal
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by NumureView Post

She has never been a force for separatism. Her Husband, yes. But not her. She wasnt even that known in the movement. But, she did accept a nifty Canadian post, I wouldnt expect her to support Québec separatism, at least in public.


What bothers me about her is that she isnt even a native born Canadian. i'm getting fed up first off with pc appointments to the job, we've had two or three women already, and two of them non-white, and the fact that she is not even born Canadian should disqualify her from our highest office outside of the Queen.IMHO.
 
canadarocks
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by csanopalView Post

What bothers me about her is that she isnt even a native born Canadian. i'm getting fed up first off with pc appointments to the job, we've had two or three women already, and two of them non-white, and the fact that she is not even born Canadian should disqualify her from our highest office outside of the Queen.IMHO.


I didn't know our Govenor-General wasn't Canadian! What nationality is she?
 
canadarocks
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by NumureView Post

She has never been a force for separatism. Her Husband, yes. But not her. She wasnt even that known in the movement. But, she did accept a nifty Canadian post, I wouldnt expect her to support Québec separatism, at least in public.


Let's be honest, who really cares one way or the other about the govenor-General. In my opinion, the office has no impact at all on the lives of the people of this country. I bet you most Canadians wouldn't even know who the GG was.I mean, outside of opening Parliament, what does the woman do to earn her keep?
 
s_lone
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by canadarocksView Post

Let's be honest, who really cares one way or the other about the govenor-General. In my opinion, the office has no impact at all on the lives of the people of this country. I bet you most Canadians wouldn't even know who the GG was.I mean, outside of opening Parliament, what does the woman do to earn her keep?

She travels, she smiles and shakes hands. She gives speeches full of warm and fudgy words. Truly, she is essential to Canada...

 
CDNBear
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by s_loneView Post

WHAT? That's gibberish CDNbear. If I follow your reasoning, pretty much everyone in this world would be racist because everyone considers him or herself distinct from someone else. Natives consider themselves distinct from Quebec and Canada. Quebecers consider themselves distinct from Canadians. Canadians consider themselves distinct from US Americans. You'll have to elaborate your point if you want me to swallow your claim that French Canadian 'distinctiveness' is rooted into racism.

Yes, we all have our subtle forms of racism, even I am not immune. But the Quebecuois seek to purify the province. Almost every act is forwording that agenda. I do not promote the purity of Native lands, nore should any Native. We have leasing agreements with Non Native peoples, as further proof of this. We also try to include everyone in our celabrations, in an atempt to foster growth and understanding, the Quebecuois enacts bills, like 101, to stifle growth and diversity. Hence my assertion that their subtle form of racism is a bit less subtle then most.
Quote: Originally Posted by csanopalView Post

What bothers me about her is that she isnt even a native born Canadian. i'm getting fed up first off with pc appointments to the job, we've had two or three women already, and two of them non-white, and the fact that she is not even born Canadian should disqualify her from our highest office outside of the Queen.IMHO.

Nothing disqualifies politically motivated postings to positions of the elite. Look at Stephan Dion. He holds two citizenships and viamently defended by the liberals, adnausium.
Quote: Originally Posted by canadarocksView Post

Let's be honest, who really cares one way or the other about the govenor-General. In my opinion, the office has no impact at all on the lives of the people of this country. I bet you most Canadians wouldn't even know who the GG was.I mean, outside of opening Parliament, what does the woman do to earn her keep?

Pretty much.
Quote: Originally Posted by s_loneView Post

She travels, she smiles and shakes hands. She gives speeches full of warm and fudgy words. Truly, she is essential to Canada...

Just as essential as the independance of the Quebecois?
 
s_lone
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBearView Post

Just as essential as the independance of the Quebecois?

And the independance of the Natives?
 
s_lone
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBearView Post

Yes, we all have our subtle forms of racism, even I am not immune. But the Quebecuois seek to purify the province. Almost every act is forwording that agenda. I do not promote the purity of Native lands, nore should any Native. We have leasing agreements with Non Native peoples, as further proof of this. We also try to include everyone in our celabrations, in an atempt to foster growth and understanding, the Quebecuois enacts bills, like 101, to stifle growth and diversity. Hence my assertion that their subtle form of racism is a bit less subtle then most.

I'll accept your answer because you use the word Quebecuois and not Quebecois. You give a personal meaning to the term 'Quebecuois' so you pretty much say what you want on 'them'. As for the Québecois, you should beware of generalisations as much as we all should when we speak of the Natives.
 
canadarocks
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by s_loneView Post

She travels, she smiles and shakes hands. She gives speeches full of warm and fudgy words. Truly, she is essential to Canada...

Exactly, the whole office is a total waste of our tax dollars..her and the Lt. govenors serve no real purpose in our country.
 
CDNBear
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by s_loneView Post

And the independance of the Natives?

You will find no support for that from me at this forum or anywhere else for that matter. Like the separatist movement, there is not enough maturity in the leadership to warrant such a thing.

Quote: Originally Posted by s_loneView Post

I'll accept your answer because you use the word Quebecuois and not Quebecois. You give a personal meaning to the term 'Quebecuois' so you pretty much say what you want on 'them'. As for the Québecois, you should beware of generalisations as much as we all should when we speak of the Natives.

I am always mindful of generalizations, but in this case it is extremely difficult to differenciate between the two at times, as the separatist movement is a comingled entity of Quebecois and Quebecuois. For the effects of this, see my first reply in this post.

Quote: Originally Posted by canadarocksView Post

Exactly, the whole office is a total waste of our tax dollars..her and the Lt. govenors serve no real purpose in our country.

Glorified figureheads, pure and simple and expensive ones at that.
 

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