Zowie, Dr. Foth, what’s happening?

Allan Fotheringham July 1 1994

Zowie, Dr. Foth, what’s happening?

Allan Fotheringham July 1 1994

Zowie, Dr. Foth, what’s happening?



Zowie, Dr. Foth, it is certainly propitious, not to mention portentous, to peek at you perambulating down the promenade.

Elucidate, specifically, the enormity of your cranial cavity as to the phantasmagorical configuration of your puzzlement.

Well, gee, here we are on our birthday and, well, is the whole thing going to fall apart?

Noway, José.

Why do you say that, 0 seer?

It’s simple. Those who would separate, in Quebec, are in a minority.

Why do you say that, mighty one?

Because they compromise the intellectual elite, the employees of Radio-Canada, the influential journalists, the academics, all the college kids feeling their oats.

That would seem to signal victory for their cause.

Not so.

Why not?

Because there are more people in Quebec who drink beer, rather than kir. When it gets down to the crunch, the beer drinkers will win.

But we hear that Lucien Bouchard is by far the most popular politician in Quebec.

That is true, but there is a small problem.

What would that be, invulnerable one?

As far as he has confessed, Lucien appears to have been a devotee of four different political parties so far in his life.


In his memoirs, recently published in English, he tells us that he was first a supporter of the Liberals and Pierre Trudeau. He secretly maintained his membership in the Parti Québécois while accepting B. Mulroney’s invitation to become Canada’s ambassador to France before being parachuted into the Conservative cabinet before fleeing across the Commons floor as the leader of the suddenly invented Bloc Québécois.


It would seem to me that he has the attention span of a hummingbird.

Do you have any further evidence of this?

Yes. It seems he is registering his two young boys, children of his second wife, Cali-

fornia-born, whom he met on a Paris-London flight while ambassador in France, as American citizens.

So what are you saying?

This guy doesn’t believe in Canada. He doesn’t even believe in Quebec. He wants his kids to be Yanks.

Would you say he wants it both ways?

I would suggest that.

Get serious. What do you really think is going to happen?

What is really going to happen is the PQ will of course win the election in Quebec (which the skilful Mr. Chrétien blurted out would be held in September, thus convincing any doubting Québécois voters that the federalists were running Daniel Johnson’s show.)

And then?

As you’ll recall, Brother Lucien confessed in his hilarious “off-the-record” sermonette to the closemouthed inmates of the Canadian

Chamber of Commerce in Ottawa that he had no fear of young Chrétien in the upcoming referendum showdown, but expressed some extreme nervousness over the prospect of one Pierre Elliott Cumquat appearing on the battlefield.

OK, get to the point.

What will happen, once the separation referendum is called, is that old horse Trudeau indeed will snort of the barn and will dominate the federalist cause in the ensuing debate, on television and off it.

And then?

And then there will be a spontaneous draft demand across the nation, that he replace the surrogate Chrétien as leader of the Liberal party to smite the separatists in the eye.

You’re not serious.

Of course I’m serious. Just as Charles de Gaulle was summoned back from his redoubt in Colombey-les-DeuxEglises to save France. Just as Churchill, painting and doing his bricklaying duties at Chartwell in the English greenery, came back one more time in his dotage to become prime minister after the Brits had rejected him following the war in which he had mastered the Huns. You’re not saying...

Of course I am. Trudeau, aged 93, from the nursing home, with or without new children, will emerge in his sterling silver walker to save the nation.

Is this going to save the Liberal party?

Who cares? The Liberal party is as slippery as peanut butter.

Well, what matters?

What matters is that the beer-parlor voters in Quebec are going to decide the matter, not four-party Lucien who now seems to be also the leader of the Parti Québécois in his all-consuming pronouncements.

So what’s going to happen?

I’ll tell you what’s going to happen.

That surprises me, since you’re usually so reticent.

Shut up. Quebec voters want to cock their snoot at Ottawa, as they should, while maintaining their links with the great mother teat.

What does that mean?

It means that this scribbler is often asked to speak to assembled conventioneers of widget manufacturers.

What’s that got to do with the price of eggs?

I tell them that 20,30 years from now, in the same hotel, probably from the same podium, some brilliant expert will be telling some audience about the prospect of why Quebec will or will not separate.

Wow, Dr. Foth, you certainly managed as usual to muddify the fuzzification.

No probs. None at all.