Quebec after Catholicism
Jones, Preston, First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life
In July 1997 Quebec City unveiled a bronze statue of Charles de Gaulle outside its walls. Though the $150,000 price tag might have seemed exorbitant to Canadians whose cash-strapped governments have in recent years been compelled to cut social services, for Quebecois sovereigntists it was a small price to pay for the assurance that from now to forever the eminent general will preside over the Plains of Abraham, site of a definitive French defeat at the hands of the English in 1759, terrestrial source of perpetual French Canadian humiliation, historical souvenir of all that is wrong with the world.
It is of course fitting that de Gaulle should rule over the Plains, for few events in the history of Quebec's sovereigntist movement can match the long-term influence of his cry "Vive le Quebec libre!" from the balcony of Montreal's city hall in July 1967 before a crowd of fifty thousand. "Whatever General de Gaulle's ambiguous motives may have been," wrote Canadian historian Ramsay Cook soon after the event, "there can be no doubt that his adventures in `la nouvelle France' finally brought into focus the nature of the current Canadian crisis."
If de Gaulle's visit to Quebec in 1967 is remembered as having stirred a crisis among Canada's federalists, to Quebec's sovereigntists it stands as a signal event in their collective memory. The liberator of Paris was now their liberator. And even as a "quiet revolution" made radical changes in their own society, de Gaulle seemed to be saying that France was now eager to embrace her distant brood. "France sees you, she hears you, she loves you."
So let us say that Quebec received de Gaulle as something of a savior--in the words of former Quebec premier Rene Levesque to the French National Assembly in 1977, de Gaulle's declaration was heard like …
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Publication information: Article title: Quebec after Catholicism. Contributors: Jones, Preston - Author. Magazine title: First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life. Publication date: June 1999. Page number: 12. © 2009 Institute on Religion and Public Life. COPYRIGHT 1999 Gale Group.
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