From the Managing Editor

From the Managing Editor

The embarrassing Mr. Landry

March 19 2001
From the Managing Editor

From the Managing Editor

The embarrassing Mr. Landry

March 19 2001

From the Managing Editor

The embarrassing Mr. Landry

Now that Bernard Landry is premier of Quebec, what can Canadians expect? Perhaps the worst, if Canadas recently retired ambassador to France, Jacques Roy, is right.

Roy, let it be said, is a very smart guy. A native of Quebec City, he’s a lawyer and an experienced career diplomat who, among other things, spent six years as foreign affairs adviser to Pierre Trudeau. As befits his breed, he is normally extremely circumspect.

Consider, then, an article he wrote last week in Opinion Canada, a newsletter published by the Council for Canadian Unity.

As a Canadian ambassador in Europe, Roy had several close encounters with Landry when he was Quebec’s deputy premier.

Brussels, December, 1994. Roy introduced Landry to Sir Leon Brittan, a key figure in the European Commission. “I had barely finished my introduction,” Roy writes, “when Mr. Landry, giving me a look of contempt, told Sir Leon that while he had to agree to be accompanied by Canada’s ambassador for this meeting, in future visits to Brussels he would be free of such constraints because Quebec would, by then, be independent.” The next morning, Roy organized a breakfast for Landry with another member of the European Commission. “Mr. Landry railed against the positions held and the roles played by francophones within the department of foreign affairs. He claimed that they were few in number and that they had almost no influence.”

Strasbourg, June, 1995. Following the Canada-Spain turbot war, Landry visited the European Parliament. “Mr. Landry

launched into an attack on the Canadian position [in the fishing dispute]. Addressing [a] Spanish member of parliament, he stated that the government of an independent Quebec would never act in the way the Canadian government had and would never inspect a fishing boat on the high seas. Following the meeting, a number of the [European] Parliament’s high-ranking civil servants told me they were flabbergasted to hear a minister, with the major responsibilities that Mr. Landry held in his province, criticize his national government on a matter of foreign policy in a speech abroad. In their view, he had breached one of the fundamental rules of international diplomacy, and they were appalled.” Monaco, April, 1999. Landry attended a meeting of francophone ministers of the economy and finance, as did the federal Treasury Board president, Marcel Massé. “The meeting, which took place over breakfast in a public place, ended with a terrible argument witnessed by a number of people, including foreign nationals.” And what does Jacques Roy think of Bernard Landry’s ascension to the premier’s office last week? “Now that Mr. Landry is premier, he would be well-advised to carry around a rag to cover his face when travelling abroad.”

Words to reflect upon.

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