Canada Special Report

‘GATHER IN THE HERD AND SHUT THE DOORS'

May 28 2001
Canada Special Report

‘GATHER IN THE HERD AND SHUT THE DOORS'

May 28 2001

‘GATHER IN THE HERD AND SHUT THE DOORS'

Last October, Franco-Ontarian novelist Daniel Poliquin created a sensation in Quebec—some would call it a scandal-with the French-language publication of In the Name of the Father: An Essay on Quebec Nationalism. In his polemic, the Ottawa-based writer skewered many of the separatist movement’s sacred cows. In the Name of the Father is now available in English. An excerpt:

The intellectuals at the beginning of the 20th century began to preach the reinstatement of New France’s palisade. Which led to the apocalyptic demagogy that in 1925 prophesied the extinction of the Quebec people. Quick, we must gather in the herd and shut the doors. Neither the language nor the methods have changed. Here is the nub of the argument: French language and culture will survive only if Quebec is independent. Otherwise death is imminent. Which enables the new clergy to justify extreme measures. Just as the Church legitimized the hobbling of people’s minds by invoking the salvation of their souls, the nationalistic government excuses the bludgeoning of its citizens robbed by the tax man, the liquor board, and Hydro Quebec. We need a Quebec state, so we have to pay. And through the nose.

All that, of course, with the endorsement of the intellectuals who, on the right as on the left, strive to harness the population to an ideology. “The collective takes precedence over the individual," wrote Gérard Dagenais, hi| priest of the French language and ardent separatist. He perhaps wasn’t aware of it, but he had just given voice to the sum and substance of Quebec nationalism.