H-France List Archives
Date: Sun, 9 Mar 1997 13:47:57 -0500 (EST) From: PATRICE GROULX <email@example.com> 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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