Sunday, March 23, 2014



Once upon a time, before it got tiresome and the savings became so obvious if the separatists just got the hell out, I kept standing on the ramparts and fighting to keep this great country intact.
I was inclined to quote the line from King Henry V where Shakespeare wrote the grand battle cry of "once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more..."
It was my first exposure to the Bard when I saw that superb movie by Laurence Olivier made in 1944. I didn't understand much of it but who did not thrill at "cry God for Harry, England and Saint George."
 I may well have said "once more unto the breach" when the Editors of the Suns gathered in Edmonton in 1992 charged by the big boss, Doug Creighton, to write a series of editorials for every front page in the Sun chain on the Charlottetown Accord and referendums on Canada's future.
I chaired the meeting as the Editor of the flagship in Toronto, although it was the kind of meeting where if I paused for breath, and I tried not to for at least the first hour, my colleagues swarmed over me with what they said were better lines.
In the end, to save myself from too many knives in the front - editorialists never just stab in the back because they might hit bone - before we adjourned for, ahem, drinks,  I made sure that each Editor had authored their own special baby for the week-long series.
 I saved my effort for the final Sunday when, since the Toronto paper was the second largest in the country and even our Financial Post joined in the broadside of editorial thunder from the largest media chain, we blasted the separatists as if they were the French enemy at Agincourt.
So my stout defence of keeping Canada united was read by millions of voters. But no more!
The separatists have been defeated in narrow votes and they seemed even a year or so ago to have become just a pallid shadow of past indignities.  But hope springs eternal in the breast of those who think their salvation lies in kicking the gullible English out of their "share" of the place and escaping with most of the loot.
 And now they trumpet they even have the Sun's main owner as their catch of the day. Just keep him out of the Sun, guys,  so he doesn't stink up the place like a carp on the beach.
There are clouds of smarmy rhetoric concealing the latest gambit by the separatists, and we're told the vote for the PQ doesn't necessarily mean another referendum on francophone separation.
We're told that perhaps two-thirds in Quebec don't want such a vote.
Fine by me. Good. This is aimed at the separatists and their fellow travellers, even that premier who thinks, naively, that if Quebec does go, they would continue to use the beaverbuck and even play some role in its management.
This is an echo of the garbage in the past that somehow Quebec could separate but also keep our stamp and post office, our army, all the wealth of federal buildings built there to keep them happy, and all the special arrangements.
 For example, the Quebec dairy farmers supply most of the industrial milk in Canada for cheese etc. They enjoy a special deal that keeps the price of dairy products high in the rest of Canada. They expect that this deal would continue. Nonsense!
This is not just a time for tough love but for rough talk. This is a time for English Canada to say that any suggestion that Quebec gets to leave with every last square kilometre of what is presently considered to be part of the province is just a non-starter.
Ironically, some natives, including Iroquois and Cree,  are restless about this separation talk, especially the idea that separatists expect to leave with what natives consider their territory. They also don't think they're really part of Canada either.
Obviously, English Canada will have to change its appeasement and explain reality for natives who keep biting the hands of the Canadian taxpayers and treating us like a foreign enemy. The fact is that we may have been the enemy, the way they see it, but we won, both by force and by legislation, and if they don't like it, join the separatists and take a hike with empty hands.
I don't like the deals that Quebec has always got so it doesn't sulk. I don't like the costly translations that have to be done for packaging, legislation, etc. I don't like being told that only bilingual Canadians should be our PM and top ministers, judges and officials. Even if separatism doesn't return as a powerful force and irritant, I think it is time to say official bilingualism isn't warranted in a country where 80% of the people have other languages and only a few stubborn francophones don't know English.
I started filled with goodwill on this, especially in language. It's not the French that bothers me, it's the way it has been used as a weapon.
 My youngest son, Mark, went through the first French immersion course in Etobicoke and liked it. (He works in China and speaks Mandarin in addition to his good French and English.) We discovered, however, that the way bilingualism works in Ottawa, francophones who have some  English get the job, seldom the reverse.
One daughter-in-law, Marie, was born a francophone just a few houses from the Plains of Abraham, a farm owned by her ancestor, and has another another ancestor, Calixa Lavallee, who wrote O Canada.
Another daughter-in-law, Yolanda, was born in Argentina, and speaks Spanish, of course.  So at a family gathering, it is possible to hear five languages, since Mary's family spoke in Slovenia when she was a girl.
I don't care what language you speak, as long as you can get along in English, the most important language in Canada and the world. And I would just as soon that you call yourself a Canadian without bothering with any hyphens. Since we're stating obvious facts, it's apparent to all but the politically correct and pandering politicians that the cultural mosaic hasn't worked and Canada would be better off if we had stressed the melting pot while expecting and helping newcomers to honour their ethnic roots to a lesser degree.
I would hope that all this guff about separatism that has flared since Pierre Karl Peladeau decided to run for the third party he has fooled around with is just a mini-rebellion full of sound and fury signifying nothing. After Peladeau experimented with Communism (that's when he became Karl and not Carl) and fooled around with the Liberals, he jumped into the PQ bed that his father liked to fool around in decades ago.
Peladeau is arrogant, lousy at newspapering and printing, and is considered a fine catch only by those impressed by inherited riches.
 He did fire me once, but that was trivial. On the day it was to be announced he had bought the Sun chain, I was wandering the executive offices handing out Christmas bonuses dressed as Santa Claus.  When Peladeau, Paul Godfrey and the other brass left for the announcement, they bumped into me. COO Trudy Eagan suggested it would be a gimmick in the Sun tradition if I began the ceremony by saying that Peladeau, like Santa, had come to bring the Sun a great Christmas gift. Peladeau agreed, then thought better of it several floors below.  So I stopped the elevator and got off, while Peladeau laughed that he had started at the Sun by firing Santa.
Unfortunately, he fired a lot at the Sun but not me because I had jumped first and was semi-retired.
Just how large separatism will really figure in the Quebec election remains to be seen. Perhaps it's just an over-reaction in English Canada.
But we in this country just can't continue to allow this illusion to continue, whether it's by separatists, natives or ethnic activists, that you can live in Canada and enjoy all the right and privileges of being a citizen, but also, if you want, you can leave and have your own country but still keep the benefits.
It's time to put up or shut up. Want to make part of Quebec a separate country? Well then, try, but  you will leave behind everything to do with Canada. Want to have your own native government and your own laws?  Either they are subordinate to Canada or you must go and find some territory that your ancestors didn't lose. Want to have dual citizenship but live in your homeland and have your benefits shipped there? No, you cannot serve two masters.
There has been a growing militancy in Canada against those who feel they're entitled to special deals even when they wish to disown the national government.
It is time for us to give a speech like Lady Macbeth did about her King in that dour "Scottish play"  by the Bard.
"I pray you, speak not. He grows worse and worse. Questions enrage him. At once, good night. Stand not upon the order of your going. But go at once."
I hope the door hits you on the bum!

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