Friday, August 12, 2005

The New G-G : Danny Williams Has the Right Idea

It seems some Quebec sovereigntists have got their toques knitted a little tight about the new Governor-General nominee:

In the September issue of the sovereigntist publication Le Québécois, novelist Rene Boulanger says Jean and her filmmaker husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, supported independence 10 years ago.

Jean has been "soaking for ages in the sovereigntist atmosphere," while Lafond is a "declared sovereigntist," says the article.

(The article, by the way, can be found here. It's in French, but if you know the language you'll recognize some of the quotations.)

On Thursday, Gilles Rheaume, former president of the Société St-Jean-Baptiste, said he wants to know how the couple voted in the 1995 referendum.

Rheaume says people in Quebec and the rest of Canada have the right to know if they are sovereigntists.

He says Prime Minister Paul Martin made a big mistake in appointing Jean, and that he has some explaining to do.

This, by the way, I find a bit confusing. If your stated goal is to have the Province of Quebec become an independent state, wouldn't it be in your best interest to have a head-of-state (which, by the way, the G-G is) who's sympathetic to the idea? And who would therefore be in a position to inform a hostile Parliament trying to legislate against separation that they shouldn't do that?

Meanwhile we have this story from the Globe and Mail:

New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell want to know how Canada's next governor-general voted in a referendum on Quebec independence, but Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams says it's nobody's business.

Mr. Williams said the personal decisions of Jean's husband or the spouse of any public figure are private.

“Certainly, I'm the one in politics. I'm the one who has a public profile,” Mr. Williams said. “When my wife is involved in anything is nobody's business.”

Williams, I think, has the right idea.

The referendum happened 10 years ago; a lot of things have changed since then. There's a Clarity Act. There's a new Conservative Party. Instead of the bully-boy scrapper Jean Chrétien, there's the sober accountant Paul Martin. And 9/11 added the factor of national security that every politician takes into account these days.

And in this current climate, what happened 10 years ago no longer matters. Whatever Ms. Jean's opinions of Canada-Quebec relations 10 years ago, they're bound to have changed and shifted simply because the climate has done the same.

Certainly Michaëlle Jean needs to get out to Canadian audiences more; I'll bet a great portion of English Canada still doesn't get who she is. But she doesn't need to tell them about Canada yesterday. She needs to tell them about her view of Canada today ... and tomorrow.