H-France List Archives

  • Message-Id: <199604041002.LAA04320@listserv.rl.ac.uk>
  • Date: Mon, 10 Mar 1997 13:35:47 -0800
  • From: "Bertram M. Gordon" <bmgordon@mills.edu>
  • Subject: Re: Vichy and Quebec (Groulx versus Deslisle) (fwd)

Date: Sun, 9 Mar 1997 13:47:57 -0500 (EST)
From: PATRICE GROULX <aaa712@agora.ulaval.ca>

First I owe deep apologies to Pr Notely. He looked for links between
Quebec and the Vichy regime, I triggered a typically Canadian squabble
over nationalism and Quebec. To Pr Notley, this dispute sounds familiar,
though, since he experienced a similar one on H-Canada several months
ago, if I'm not mistaken. Here, I shall answer only a few questions
raised in the heat of the debate, "for the benefit of list members", as
Pr Sibalis requested. Obviously, H-France members have better things to
look for.

1. I was tagged a "Quebec nationalist". On what grounds? Because I said
Delisle's thesis was poor? No need to be a "nationalist" to think that.
Just read the book.

2. I never said "Delisle's federalist politics have led her to
misrepresent and slander Quebec nationalism." I'll repeat:
a. she has built her thesis on "apriori antinationalistes". As far as I
know, fighting nationalism or its dark side does not automatically turn
someone into a federalist -- or vice versa. After all, some
aspects of federalist rhetoric in
Canada are heavily nationalist too, when directed against
the United States.
b. her method is poor.
c. her thesis is used liberally as ammunition against separatism in Quebec.
d. given this purpose (ammunition), even a poor book like Delisle's get
translated, and is presented as the last word of political science on
the question of antisemitism in abbi Groulx' works. Since Groulx is an
"icon" among nationalists... you know the rest. I should have added that
poor books then overshadow far better studies. I have in mind, for
instance, Pierre Anctil's "Le Devoir, les Juifs et l'immigration" (1988),
that has not received, with all its nuances and thoroughness, the same
interest as Delisle's. Why that? Should not intellectuals question the
translation strategy of publishers? What finally is sifted and proposed
to non-French readers? Is it a fair representation of what is published
in French?

3. I will not repeat what was said in the past four years about Delisle's
work. I will simply add personal impressions based on findings gathered
in my own research on a rather similar topic, the place of Amerindians in
Quebec identity through the study of the Dollard des Ormeaux' heroic
myth-building. Delisle alluded several times to Dollard as a vehicle for
antisemitism. I'll remind that
her scope is narrow: ten years (1929-39), a marginal daily paper (Le
Devoir), a short-lived movement ("Jeune-Canada") and one author, abbi
Groulx. Apparently (I don't have a copy of her book handy), she
overlooked an important event of the time where she could have tested her
theory on how central is the hatred of the Jew in French-Canadian
nationalism: the 1933 Dollard des Ormeaux rallies in Carillon and
Montreal, with plenty elements fitting Delisle's mould: the right period,
the organizers (the "Jeune-Canada" in Carillon), the keynote speaker
(abbi Groulx, in Carillon again), the wide publicity over the event
(features and editorials in Le Devoir and La Presse, this one a
mainstream daily; an editorial by the notorious nationalist journalist,
Olivar Asselin, in Le Canada, the Liberal Party daily in Montreal; an
article by Groulx in L'Action catholique, a Quebec City daily; a long
reflection by J.-P. Verschelden, head of the main youth catholic movement
in Quebec, in Le Devoir). There was ONLY ONE allusion to Jews in Pierre
Dansereau's speech at Carillon (Dansereau was the leader of the
Jeune-Canada), as follows: "Le veritable idealisme canadien trouve son
application pratique dans la resistance a l'anglicisation et a la
judaisation dans le domaine economique." It could be read only in Le
Devoir, not in La Presse. A drop, really, in an ocean of words about the
way French Canada, inspired by Dollard's self-sacrifice, fighting the
negative influence of materialism, americanization, etc., would struggle
out of the Great Depression. By the way, Dansereau is the well-known (at
least in Quebec) ecologist of today, in 1933 at the beginning of a long
carreer. To my knowledge, Delisle also threw into her bibliography two
elements about Dollard that had strictly nothing to do with antisemitism
or Jews, namely articles by Omer Heroux in Le Devoir in 1938 and 1939.
For what purpose?

In other words, Delisle's work owes much more to the ideology that
governs it than to the historical research she claimed she carried. As a
pamphlet or an essay, it has its merits. As a historical study, it is
deceiving. Again, the potential readers will judge by themselves. On juge
l'arbre a ses fruits.

4. What is irritating with Delisle's positions, is that she gives the
impression, first, that Groulx and his supporters were governed by
antisemitism, and second, that if they had been in power, Quebec would
have participated to the Shoah. No wonder you can easily extend that
judgment to our present times, since the antisemite Groulx is still an
"icon". Reading Delisle, I went under the
impression she was sorry she couldn't dig out more signs of antisemitism
in Quebec than anywhere else in the world. A few pogroms would have
helped her thesis, but fortunately, they didn't happen. Just a few days
ago, the Canadian B'Nai Brith released figures showing that on 244
antisemitic incidents compiled in Canada in 1996, 30 happened in
Montreal, 27 in Ottawa and 98 in Toronto. To help understand these
figures, Montreal is at least 3 times the size of Ottawa, and
approximately the size of Toronto, depending what you include in their
respective areas. Two-thirds of Montrealers and suburbans are
French-speaking. Whatever the sociological and cultural reasons for this
state of affairs, there goes the blatant myth about the deep antisemitism
among Quebeckers. The proof is in the pudding.

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