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Monday, 27 June 2022

Was the 2014 Maidan Uprising in Kyiv a CIA Covert Operation?

Charlie Wilson's War

This week I watched Charlie Wilson's War a second and third time on Netflix.  Now I have to read the book:  George Crile's Charlie Wilson's War:  The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History.  The real-life story upon which the book and movie are based is that in the 1980s a Texas congressman, an evangelical Texas socialite, a group of CIA agents, the President of Pakistan and some Saudi financiers got together and funneled a billion-dollars worth of advanced weapons to the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan.  The purpose of the operation according to the gleeful declarations of the CIA operatives in the film was "to kill Russians . . . to kill lots and lots of Russians."  The irony, which most people are aware of today, is that those same weapons would eventually be used to kill Americans and their western allies in a war that lasted from October, 2001, until the Taliban declared victory over the USA in August, 2021.

Following the money . . .

Charlie Wilson's War seems oddly relevant today.  The US is sending Ukraine 40 billion dollars in military and humanitarian aid, in addition to weapons being sent under the new Lend-Lease Act.  Ironically, the original Lend-Lease Act was established during World War II to send military hardware to Russia.  Although the aid packages are always presented as gestures of compassion toward Ukrainian widows and orphans,  it seems obvious that the end result will be a lot more people dying, and the biggest chunk of these monies will end up in the coffers the eight major US weapons manufacturers.

According to Servant of the People, Ukraine is so corrupt it's funny

Ukraine is frequently portrayed as a corrupt nation.  Operation Odessa, the documentary about a Colombian drug cartel's attempt to buy a nuclear submarine, was truly gobsmack-worthy. In the Ukrainian comedy series Servant of the People, staring Volodymyr Zelensky, the underlying premise is endemic Ukrainian corruption. Even testimony before the US congress, though it was focused on whether or not President Trump should be impeached for his attempts to get the dirt on Hunter Biden's business in Ukraine,  showed an underlying assumption that corruption in Ukraine was rampant.  No doubt when the people of Ukraine elected Volodymyr Zelensky and his Servant of the People Party, in 2019, they thought he would take on corruption the same way he did as the fictional President of Ukraine in the TV comedy.   

 Russia's "unprovoked" invasion

Although we are bombarded with coverage of the war in Ukraine these days, the country's cloak-and-dagger history makes it difficult to grasp where we are right now and how we got here.  Western legacy, mainstream media wants me to believe that Vladimir Putin, "unprovoked," decided to invade Ukraine because he's a nasty, immoral gangster, because he's an egomaniac and megalomaniac, because it might add to his personal wealth and prestige, because he wants the Soviet Union back.  All these claims might be true but they don't add up to an explanation for the war at this point in history unless we add that Putin is irrational and insane, at which point the narrative really begins to lose credibility.

Russian Seizure of Crimea in February, 2014

Timelines explaining the war in Ukraine often begin in 2014. In 2014 Russian forces seized Crimea which was, at the time, part of Ukraine.  According to the most recent census, 67.9% of Crimean residents consider themselves Russian.  After the Russian invasion of Crimea, the USA and other Western governments began imposing sanctions on Russia. Why did Russia invade Crimea in 2014?

The "Maidan Uprising" and overthrow of Victor Yanucovich in January, 2014

In Ukraine, 2014 was the year of the "Maidan Uprising," also known as Euromaidan and the Revolution of Dignity, and the presumed cause of the timing of Russia's seizure of Crimea.  Numerous sources I have encountered claim that the "Maidan Uprising" was a covert CIA operation.  Why should I believe that this is true? And even if it is true, what difference does it make?

Does Anybody really believe the Ukrainian Revolution was a CIA coup?

Here is a short list of some of the people who claim that the "Maidan Uprising" was a CIA covert operation:

If it looks like a duck . . .

Part of the reason we might imagine that the 2014 Ukrainian revolution was a CIA op is because it looks like the CIA plots that we already know about:  a riot bought and paid for by the CIA brought down Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran in order to protect US oil interest, the overthrow of Allende in Chile to support US copper interests, the coup against Arbenz in Guatamala at the behest of the United Fruit company.  

We know that one of the very first covert CIA operations was an attempt to infiltrate Ukraine in 1949, and the operation went horribly wrong.    In 2004, the Orange Revolution, weeks of protests in Kyiv, led to the overturning of the presidential election won by Viktor Yanucovych and bringing to power his rival the the US-preferred, pro-European candidate, Viktor Yushchenco.  In the presidential elections of 2010, Yushchenco, who, according to Western reports was the choice of the people of Ukraine, finished a distant third with 5.45% of the vote.  And once again, Viktor Yanucovych won the presidential run-off vote. In 2014, for the second time in ten years, Yanucovych won the presidential election but lost the presidency because of demonstrations and riots in the streets of Kyiv.

Why Overthrow Viktor Yanukovych?

Why would the CIA want to overthrow Viktor Yanukovych, the democratically-elected President of Ukraine? The Western narrative is that Yanukovych was pro-Russian and corrupt.  Neither claim is particularly accurate or meaningful.  As reported on BBC, Radio Free Europe and the Kyiv Post, and compiled on Wikipedia:

Yanukovych's ambition  was for Ukraine to be part of an EU trading block centered in Brussels and a Eurasian trading block run from Moscow at the same time. The world today continues to work according to a Cold War logic:  either you are with the USA and its allies and alliances, ideologically, politically, militarily and economically, or you must be dealt with.  Playing at neutrality, being a bridge, enjoying the best of both worlds, global collaboration and trade deals risk running counter to American interests and are simply not viable options.

 Why did President Yanukovych break off negotiations with the EU?

The Western narrative is that Yanukovych was a Russian puppet and Vladimir Putin was pulling his strings.  The metaphor is nicely succinct but not very informative.  The beginning of the end for Yanucovych was when he broke off negotiations for a European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement. Reports of the negotiations from 2013 (before everything exploded in 2014) tend to offer more information. See, for example, the report from Reuters:  "EU Talking to IMF, World Bank and Others about Ukraine Assistance."  The gist of the situation was that Ukraine was facing bankruptcy, unable to make its loan payments to the IMF and the World Bank, among others.  In order to join the EU, meeting EU standards and regulations, and to avoid defaulting on its loans, the Ukraine would need, according to Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Avarov, a bailout of "20 billion euros."  When the offer of financial support was not forthcoming from the EU, Russia offered Ukraine a 15-billion-euro bailout, and Yanukovych broke off negotiations with the EU in order to accept the Russian offer. 

 The "Maidan Uprising" begins 21 November 2013

When the breakdown of Ukraine's negotiations with the EU was made public, protests began in Maidan Square, they turned bloody, people were killed and, within months, Yanucovich was overthrown.  After a number of threats and attempts on his life, Yanucovich fled Ukraine 21 February 2014, and Petro Poroshenco, the billionaire pro-EU, anti-communist became the new President, winning a snap election 25 May 2014.  Poroshenco signed the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement 27 June 2014.  Without the requested financial bailout, and with the Russian seizure of Crimea, and escalation of the civil war in the Donbas region, the Ukranian economy went into sharp decline and in the presidential elections of 2019, Poroshenco was defeated by Voldymyr Zelensky. In 2021, Poroschenco fled Ukraine after being accused of "high treason" and financing terrorists for buying coal from separatist regions of Ukraine.  Russia launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine 24 February 2022.

Zelensky's First years in office

Zelensky was elected in 2019 in opposition to Petro Poroshenko, the pro-European, militarist, anti-communist incumbent.  Zelensky came to power as a peace maker, promising to negotiate with pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region. According to a Wilson Center online article:

 Zelensky’s mandate allowed him to promote a peace settlement that would see Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed insurgents withdraw from the so-called “contact line” in eastern Ukraine. Zelensky’s opponents characterized the move as a capitulation that would do nothing but legitimize Russian aggression in the Donets Basin and Crimea, but he retained widespread support from a war-weary public.

 Additionally, Zelensky's anti-corruption agenda progressed well over his first year in office but

[. . . .] by March 2020 everything changed. Zelensky appointed as his new chief of staff Andriy Yermak, a person rumored to have business connections to Russia. Zelensky sacked his cabinet of ministers, and Denys Shmyhal, a former governor who had ties to oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, became the new prime minister. The Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian parliament] also voted to remove prosecutor general Ruslan Ryaboshapka, a decision that concerned the West. In selecting his new cabinet, Zelensky appointed numerous figures who had ties to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk. Zelensky, it seemed, was surrounding himself with Ukraine’s old faces.

Why Invade when Zelensky was President?

Why did Russia launch a full-scale invasion in 2022 when Zelensky was President--a politician who, in contrast to Poroshenco, had come to power promising to negotiate with Russia to end the civil war in Eastern Ukraine and was surrounding himself with pro-Russian ministers?  The hawkish theory is that Putin took Zelensky's willingness to negotiate as a sign of weakness.  Additionally, the FSB (the Russian secret service) paid careful attention to polling in Ukraine and calculated that not only was Zelensky's approval rating dropping but Ukrainians were fed up with the civil war that had been going on for more than eight years and would be ready to accept an invasion and Russian hegemony if it meant peace.  

A countervailing theory is that Zelensky really wasn't in control of the country.  There were too many disparate elements working to control Ukraine:  Europhiles, nationalists, NATO, oligarchs, Neo-nazi militias, and especially the USA through the CIA and NGOs likeTechCamp and the NED (the public face of the CIA).  After 2014, the operation was no longer covert.  The USA was providing a massive build-up of weaponry, military technology and training to Ukraine.  The military build-up only made the headlines in the USA as an aside in the impeachment hearings against Donald Trump.  Presumably, with Joe Biden, an old-time cold warrior whose son was heavily invested in Ukraine, taking office, the Russians felt compelled to move sooner rather than later to re-establish their hegemony over Ukraine.
 

What is a "CIA covert operation"?

In considering the question of the CIA involvement in the "Maidan uprising," it is useful to consider what a "covert CIA operation" is.  How would we know one if we saw one?  What should we be looking for as evidence?  Yes, lots of people claim to know it was a CIA coup and share their opinions.  Yes, from a distance, the prima facia evidence is that what happened looks like a CIA operation.  But for the more skeptical among us, what empirical evidence is there?  Okay, if it was a "covert" operation, we can't expect to see video of somebody with CIA printed on his flak jacket machine-gunning the Ukrainian parliament.  And even if such a video existed, we would rightly assume it was Russian misinformation and propaganda.  We need to keep in mind what is known about how the CIA goes about a covert operation in the overthrow of a regime. A recent article, entitled "The (Literally) Unbelievable Story of the Original Fake News Network," offers extensive, detailed historical research on how "a cocky American actor and two radio DJs" hired by the CIA were able to launch a revolution and oust the President of Guatemala.  As the article points out:

[ . . .] the CIA didn’t just use media manipulation to turn a country upside down and install the president that the U.S. wanted. The agency wrote a six-stage, step-by-step playbook for exactly how to do it.

The agency playbook is written in allusive bureaucratize, so here is my bowdlerized, boiled-down interpretation:

  1. Identify and confirm replacement leadership for the regime to be overthrown (e.g. the Shah in Iran, Pinochet in Chile, Castillo Armas in Guatemala)

  2. Establish a narrative to justify the coup, spinning events to conform to the narrative.

  3. Identify, manage, encourage or create a civil conflict.

  4. Use resources on the ground to manipulate the media, creating panic and/or opposition within the general public.

  5. Arrange mass demonstrations and riots as needed.

  6.  Bolster, support, finance, train and motivate opposition forces, infiltrating if necessary, to determine that they will take action when needed.

     


     

The CIA playbook in Ukraine

1.  Identify replacement leadership.  In the leaked telephone conversation between Victoria Nuland, assistant Secretary of State, and Geoffrey Pyatt, US Ambassador to the Ukraine, 4 February 2014 (17 days before Yanucovych was overthrown in the bloody coup), we can hear the Americans consulting on the make-up of the next Ukrainian government.  We hear them considering that Vitali Klitschko (leader of the party named after Petro Poroschenco--who became president after the coup) as a problem for the position of deputy Prime Minister.  Nuland says that "Klitch should not go into the government." He became Mayor of Kyiv after the coup.  Nuland and Pyatt agree that Arseniy Yatsenyuk will run the new government, with conditions that have been explained to him.  Yatsenyuk became Prime Minister of Ukraine after the uprising but was forced to resign by President Poroschenco two years later. Pyatt comments that "the problem is going to be Tyahnybok and his guys."  Oleh Tyahnybok was a leader of the Social-National Party of Ukraine which would later become Svoboda.  Interpretations of his speeches and politics label him a Neo-Nazi.  Nuland's position, in the call, is that Yatsenyuk "needs Klitch and Tyahnybok [the extreme right-wing nationalists] on the outside."  "He [Yatsenyuk, the new leader of Ukraine] needs to be talking to them four times a week."  Why? Will the new government leader be giving instructions to right-wing nationalists outside of government, or will he be receiving orders from them?  Step one of the CIA playbook seems confirmed:  US representatives have decided what the leadership and power structure in Ukraine will be after the coup.


Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt with Vitali Klitschko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk

2. Establish a narrative.    As we have seen, the narrative was that Yanucovych was a corrupt Russian puppet leading his people away from the promised prosperity of EU membership. The right-wing, ultra-ethnic-nationalist party, Svoboda (All-Ukrainian Union "Freedom" Party) was given credibility and even managed to gain 10% of the vote in the parliamentary elections in 2012.  (After 2014 Svoboda virtually disappeared from the political landscape.) As we have seen in the Nuland-Pyatt phone conversation, the plan was to keep Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of Svaboda, out of government but for him to play a role as the power behind the throne to be occupied by Arseniy Yatsenyuk.   At the same time, the narrative would be spread that EU and NATO membership, at any cost, were the true desire of the unified Ukrainian people (ignoring the fact that about a third of the population was Russian-speaking and likely pro-Russian).  Yanucovych's neutralist discourse would go largely unreported.  We will never know if Yanucovych intended to go back to negotiations with the EU after accepting the Russian bailout.  On 24 January 2019, he was sentenced in absentia to thirteen years' imprisonment for high treason by a Ukrainian court.[25]--and remains in exile in Russia.


Victoria Nuland with Oleh Tyahnybok, Vitali Klitschko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk

3. Identify and manage a civil conflict.  Ukraine was the bloodiest battleground between Nazis and Communist in World War II.  Some Ukrainians saw the Nazis as their saviors from the Soviet Communists.  Some Ukrainians, especially Jews (more Jews were killed in Ukraine during the Holocaust that anywhere else in Europe), viewed the Communists as their saviors from the Nazis.  The underlying, historical conflict has never completely disappeared.  As reported by the New York Times, Ukraine is divided between its pro-EU west and pro-Russian east. Ukraine remains home to diehard Communists and avowed Neo-Nazis.  They may be marginal extremes in the population but they represent a conflict that is easy for the CIA to exploit covertly and the USA to exploit publicly.

 

The BBC, Vice and Insider have done a number of reports on Neo-Nazis in Ukraine. When interviewed, participants often repudiate the label "Neo-Nazis" and describe themselves as "nationalists."

Neo-Nazi threat in new Ukraine: NEWSNIGHT

The far-right group threatening to overthrow Ukraine's government - Newsnight

Out of Control: Ukraine's Rogue Militias

Inside a Ukrainian nationalist camp where kids are trained to kill Russian invaders

 4.  Resources on the ground to manipulate the media.  In a speech before the Ukrainian parliament  in November, 2013, Deputy Oleg Tsarov claimed to have "proof of USA staging civil war in Ukraine." Tsarov was elected to the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, representing regions of Eastern Ukraine, on three separate occasions.  He has been wanted by Ukrainian police since June 2014 for promoting separatism and violence.[5][6] As you can see/hear in the Youtube video, Tsarov claims that the US embassy in Kyiv was using "TechCamp" in the support and preparation of a civil war in Ukraine.  As recorded, he goes on to say . . .

American instructors explained how social networks and Internet technologies can be used for targeted manipulation of public opinion as well as to activate protest potential to provoke violent unrest on the territory of Ukraine, radicalization of the population and triggering of infighting.

TechCamp Ukraine (and others) is organized by the US Department of State and publicly promoted as supplying American technical expertise to Ukrainians (and other Eastern Europeans).

5.  Arrange mass demonstrations.  The irrefutable evidence that the anti-government forces were well trained and tech savvy was the speed and efficiency with which the Maidan Square demonstrations were organized. The breakdown of negotiations with the EU was announced 21 November 2013.  By all accounts, the protest demonstrations with thousands of people gathering in the Maidan Square began the very same day.  The BBC and others reported and videoed the demonstrations.  (The man leading the crowd in the singing of the national anthem in this video is Vitali Klitschko, the right-wing nationalist who Victoria Nuland said should not be in the government but would remain a power broker. In the conversation, February 4,  Pyatt tells Nuland, "He [Klitschko]  is the next phone call you want to set up.") Lots of average Ukrainians were there to protest against the government and its policies, to support their preferred political party (there are 349 political parties in Ukraine), and to demand EU membership. Some were there to protest the protestors, but the uprising was clearly salted with right-wing militias (young men with faces covered who refused to identify themselves or their party or politics). 

 6.  Motivate opposition forces to take action.  One hundred and thirty people died, directly and indirectly, in the Maidan Uprising, including 18 police officers. BBC video includes footage of the shooting, an interview with Andriy Shevchenko, one of the organizers of the protests who is today Ukraine's Ambassador to Canada, and an interview with one of the protestors who confesses to shooting at police.  While there is no doubt that police shot and killed protestors, protestors also shot and killed police.  Protest organizers claim that the shooters were Russians trying to stir up the civil war in the east, and Russians claim the shooting was backed by the CIA, for, more or less, the same reason.

Is Ihor Lutsenko the "smoking gun"?

Who is Ihor Lutsenko? The very first name on the List of people killed during the Revolution of Dignity is Yuriy Verbytskyi and the explanation of his death is that he and his friend, Ihor Lutsenko, were kidnapped from a hospital, taken to the country side, questioned and tortured. Yuriy died, but Ihor survived.   Ihor Lutsenko is, therefore, one of a small number of people who might give us some access to the most covert elements of the "Maidan Uprising."  On Wikipedia he is described as a Maidan organizer, journalist and politician, who lost his seat in 2019, and  is now "an adviser of the Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko" (that is, Victoria Nuland's power broker who figured so prominently in videos of the demonstration).

Continuing to search the name "Ihor Lutsenko," I came to this website: "C14 - Radical right-wing group with youth camps, paramilitary unit and history of violence" which lists Ihor Lutsenko as a "related" individual who collaborates with C14.  (C14 and the "Right Sector" are featured in multiple BBC videos.)  The website in question is called "Reporting Radicalism" and is partnered with Freedom House in Washington.

I could find only one article in English with the details of Ihor's and Yuriy's kidnapping and torture: "Abducted And Left To Die: Euromaidan Supporter Found Dead In Forest" in a blog published by Radio Free Europe.  According to the article:

He [Ihor Lutsenko] told Ukraine's Hromadske TV: "This was definitely done in police style. These people effectively interrogated us. They repeatedly asked me, for instance, how Euromaidan was operated and who financed it."

"On the other hand, I don't think that [President Viktor] Yanukovych and those on his side lack this information, they can clearly obtain it from different sources."

Who would have reason to kidnap Ihor from the hospital when he went to accompany his friend who had been injured in a fight in Maidan Square?  Who would dress and act like police, know how to effectively interrogate prisoners, yet ask questions that the police and the government would already know the answers to?  If not the Right Sector and not the government, who then?  If there was any hint that his abductors were Russian, wouldn't Ihor, the right-wing, anti-communist be quick to say so?  Who would be motivated to kidnap two protestors, who had left the fighting to nurse their wounds, beat them up for a day while pretending to be police then release them to go back to the fighting at Maidan the next day, more motivated than ever to revenge themselves on the government and the police?  According to the autopsy report, Ihor's friend, Yuriy, died of hypothermia.  His death may well have been unintended.

 What Difference does it make?

I've done a lot more work than usual preparing this post.  If you have read this far, you have done a lot of work too. It shouldn't be this much work to get a clear picture of what happened eight years ago and brought us to the war and global turmoil we are facing today.  Did the CIA imitate police, kidnap and torture Ihor Lutsenko and send him back to Maidan, motivated for bloodshed?  Who knows?  As I have researched the hypothesis, the greatest argument against the "Maidan Uprising" being a "covert CIA operation" is that there was so little effort to hide US intentions.  The internet is littered with images of Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt at the Maidan demonstrations.  Forbes reported that CIA Director John Brennan visited Ukraine in April, 2014.  Does anyone care if the CIA was carrying out operations a few months earlier in 2013?


 Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt at the Maidan demonstrations

The Tail wagging the dog

The discouraging realization for me is that the tail can still so easily wag the dog:  a few minor, marginal characters--people whose politics and morality we would immediately repudiate if given the chance to know who and what they are--could snowball the chaos and catastrophe of Ukraine into a global cataclysm. 

"Good against Evil": What more do we need to know?

 In Charlie Wilson's War, the key to arming the Mujaheddin, was the approval of "useful idiot," Congressman Clarence "Doc" Long, Chairman of the subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the House Appropriations Committee.  To convince him to sign off on the budget appropriation of weapons, Charlie Wilson, Joanne King Herring and the President Zia-ul-Haq, took him to visit an Afghan refugee camp in the north of Pakistan.  There, Congressman Long's messiah complex took over and he gave a speech promising the requested weapons because, in his words, the Afghan war with Russia was "a battle of good against evil."

Today we know that US policy is to promote a lengthy war in Ukraine, to weaken Russia in a proxy war of attrition . . . "to fight to the last Ukrainian"--a rehearsal for the proxy war to come in Taiwan.  No matter how obvious the chaos of competing interests, the Machiavellic games being played, the message remains the same: "it's a battle of good against evil."  Our leaders and the dominant voices in our media have assured us that we are on the side of good. What more do we need to know?

Addendum

From the New York Times 25 June 2022:



Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Constructing English Quebec Ethnicity

 
Constructing English Quebec Ethnicity: Colleen Curran's Something Drastic and Josée Legault's L'invention d'une minorité : Les Anglo-Québécois

                                                                                    (first published in 1998)


In a 1997 La Presse [1] editorial on the much discussed situation of the "les Anglais" in Quebec, [2] Agnés Gruda describes Josée Legault's title for her1991 study of the dominant discourse of the English Quebec community, L'invention d'une minorité : Les Anglos-Québécois, as "un nom évocateur"(B2). [3] Gruda summarizes Legault's thesis as follows: "Selon l'auteure, il n'existe pas vraiment au Québec de communauté anglo-québécois fondée sur une identité propre et différente du reste du Canada. Cette 'minorité' a été inventéede toutes pièces à des fins stratégiques" (B2). [4] Certainly, the connotative baggage of skepticism and suspicion of the French word "invention" seems intended, since Legault's central theme is that the dominant Anglo-Québécois liberal humanist discourse of individual rights is a mask intended to cover collective interests, reactionary, irresponsible, wait-and-see attitudes of superiority and nostalgic, elitist desires for domination. [5] However, Werner Sollors's reflections on the popularity of the word "invention" in his introduction to The Invention of Ethnicity seem to undercut Legault's rhetorical outrage at the rift between the "true" nature and objectives of the English-speaking communities of Quebec and the"false" discourse emanating from the leaders, politicians, journalists, and writers of those communities:

... that "invention" has become a rather popular category in intellectual discourse seems, if anything, an understatement. The term "invention" is, however, not just part of a fad; and we would not be better off without this buzzword, which, after all, offers an adequate description of a profound change in modes of perception. The interpretation of previously "essentialist" categories (childhood, generations, romantic love, mental health, gender, region, history, biography and so on) as "inventions" has resulted in the recognition of the general cultural constructedness of the modern world. (x)



Sollors's thesis that ethnicity "is not a thing but a process" and that it "is not so much an ancient and deep-seated force surviving from the historical past, but rather the modern and modernizing feature of a contrastive strategy..." (xiv) not only puts into question but seemingly erases essentialist distinctions between a real or "vrai" community and the communality constructed or "inventée...à des fins stratégiques."


Throughout the body of L'invention d'une minorité, Legault juggles constructionist and essentialist visions of English Quebec pointing to the constructed, invented, created nature of the community in opposition to its essential, historic, "true" character and roots in order to display the apparent disingenuousness and hypocrisy of the public discourse of Quebec Anglophones and to explain what she sees as English intransigence. Legault argues clearly and in extensive detail that the newfound solidarity and cohesion of the English communities of Quebec came about largely in reaction to twenty years of government legislation designed to limit the use of English in Quebec [6]: "Une nouvelle identité collective a commencé à se construire, beaucoup en réaction et en opposition certes à l'affirmation nationale des francophones et aux gestes faits en son nomme pars le gouvernement québécois"(57). [7]


The shrinking of the English population in the face of growing Québécois nationalism brought to the fore a number of organizations and prominent individuals as spokespersons for the dwindling English minority. These organizations and individuals, the subjects of Legault's study, themselves confirm that the English-speaking communities of Quebec have coalesced and, in many cases, drawn themselves into a defensive posture explicitly in reaction to the political, cultural and economic realities of post-1976 Quebec. [8] For example, Alliance Quebec, an English-rights lobby group, was formed in 1982, shortly after the first referendum. [9] The English of Quebec may have traditionally thought of themselves as simply English Canadians who happen to live in Quebec, or even more firmly as members of a particular region or municipality of Quebec, or as constituents of other ethnic communities where English has become the lingua franca. Whatever the feelings of the moment of individual English-speaking Quebecers, they are and have for many years now been going through a process, both internal and external, of being labeled and defined as a community. Legault's thesis that "les Anglo-Québécois" have and are undergoing the process of constructing and being constructed as a community is corroborated by masses of daily and documentary evidence. [10]


However, Legault also adopts a traditional, essentialist line of argument identifying the Anglo-Québécois as "descendants de Britanniques" (descendants of the British) and therefore ethnically connected with "les conquérants" (the conquerors): "Pourquoi remonter au passé de 'conquérants' des Britanniques du Québec dans le cadre d'un ouvrage portant sur les années 1974 à 1991? Parce que ce retour en arrière est essentiel à l'analyse et à la compréhension du discours "dominant" anglo-québécois des vingt dernières années" (18). [11] Legault completes her description of the Anglo-Québécois community with this encyclopedia of features: "La langue anglaise, la domination économique des anglophones, de même que leur culture politique propre, qu'ils considéraient supérieure à celle des francophone, étaient au coeur même de leur identité collective" (58). [12]
 

Against this kind of closure, Sollors's notion of"invention," once again, offers a means of re-opening and reconnecting a dialogue. He argues: 

The forces of modern life embodied by such terms as "ethnicity,""nationalism," or "race" can indeed by [sic] meaningfully discussed as "inventions." Of course, this usage is meant not to evoke a conspiratorial interpretation of a manipulative inventor who single-handedly makes ethnics out of unsuspecting subjects, but to suggest widely shared, though intensely debated, collective fictions that are continually reinvented. (xi) 

From this perspective Legault's L'invention d'une minorité is itself an attempt to invent (or perhaps reinvent) Anglo-Québécois ethnicity and as such joins a number of such publications including Sheila McLeod Arnoploulos and Dominique Clift's The English Fact in Quebec (1980), Gary Caldwell and Eric Waddell's The English of Quebec: From Majority to Minority Status (1982), Ronald Rudin's The Forgotten Quebecers: A History of English Speaking Quebec, 1759-1980 (1985), Reed Scowen's A Different Vision: The English in Quebec in the 1990's (1991), William Johnson's Anglophobia: Made in Québec (1991), Mordecai Richler's O Canada/O Quebec (1990) and so on. To this list of "inventions" we might add those fictions which are explicit fictions by and about English Quebecers, including such Canadian classics as Hugh McLennan's Two Solitudes, Mordecai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, and Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers (to name but a few). [13]



Something Drastic (1995), a first novel by playwright Colleen Curran, offers a timely contribution to the discourse, and the discourse about the discourse, of the English Quebec community. Curran is part of a new generation of English Quebec writers—which would include novelists such as Linda Leith, Gail Scott, Robert Majzels and Kenneth Radu, as well as playwrights David Fennario, Vittorio Rossi, and Marianne Ackerman—who have responded with equanimity to the growth of Québécois nationalism and the minoritization of English in Quebec. For example, in her introduction to the anthology of short stories, Telling Differences: New Fiction in English from Quebec, Linda Leith comments:



The writers who stayed and who live here now have chosen to be here and they accept, with varying degrees of alacrity, the predominantly French face of Quebec. Some of the older writers may still be shaking their heads at what they see as decline, but those who have been emerging more recently are circumspect. Anxious as some anglos were on the night of November 15, 1976 when the Parti Québécois won the provincial election (but has enough been said about how pleased others were?), and displeased as some of them remain with aspects of the French language law, the new writers view this as a society that has by and large been changing for the better. (4)


Leith's allusion to a generational split was reaffirmed in a more recent feature article in the Montreal Gazette by Joel Yanofsky entitled "The Silence of the Lamb Lobby." [14] The article was provoked by "veteran Montreal writer William Weintraub" [15] who "...wondered aloud in The Gazette last month why young anglo writers here—and by young the 71-year-old Weintraub later told me he meant anyone under 60—aren't writing about 'the social and political upheaval...the cataclysm' affecting their own community" (i4). In the article, Curran was identified, in fact featured, as one of these "young" (Curran is 43) writers. However, it was in a 1993 interview with The Gazette that Curran most clearly displayed her "degree of alacrity." The interview, which bore the title "Successful Montreal Playwright Colleen Curran Finds Home Town Tough Nut to Crack," focused on the relative lack of production that her plays had received in Montreal, and in particular the fact that Centaur Theatre, Quebec's main English-language theater, had never produced one of her plays, though she had been the theater's playwright in residence for a year. Curran's response was that "It could be that as an English Quebecer, as a minority, I'm expected to write something political or angry." But as Curran explained, "that's not my outlook. When I write really seriously, the plays are so turgid and they're so depressing. I just can't stand it. I just want to have a good time and tell a good story" (B4). 

Curran's novel is written in the same tone and with the same acceptance of the minority status of Quebec English that she expressed in the interview.  Something Drastic is a series of letters written by the heroine/narrator, Lenore, to her estranged boyfriend, in which she tries to account for his sudden, unannounced departure for Florida, tries, unrequited, to woo him home, and in the process tells him the story of her daily life in Montreal from January 6 (presumably 1990), the day he left, to December 30 of the same year, the day she is able to say "you're out of my life, I'm over you" (210). Through the process of a year's experiences as a woman alone, which included making a best friend of her tenant, Concordia University professor of Canadian and women's literature, Heidi Mavourneen (Irish for darling) Flynne; being drawn into a militant feminist group under police investigation for terrorist activities; attending a therapy session for "Women Who Love too Much," and winning a role in a musical at Centaur Theatre, Lenore comes to realize what a low-life, reprehensible cad her boyfriend is and to discover herself. 

In her letters, Lenore makes several references to Alice Walker's novel, The Color Purple, and to Steven Spielberg's adaptation and film. In fact, Something Drastic offers a pastiche of the form and structure of Walker's novel. Just as Walker's Color Purple is an epistolary diary/novel of a woman's growth and individuation through adversity told in what becomes a bible of Afro-American culture written largely in ebonics, Curran gives us, in a similar form though a minor key, the testament of one year in the life of an Anglo-Québécoise as she rises from the bottom of one of life's barrels into a blossoming awareness of herself and her environment, written largely in Quebec English. [16]

The theme of abandonment seems distinctly Québécois in Something Drastic since the villain of the plot is an Anglo version of a "vendu" [17]: the term frequently used to refer to Québécois who sold their property and left the province prior to the first referendum. Moreover, the average Anglo-Québécois is very likely to have experienced the departure of friends and loved ones in recent decades. In her first letter, Lenore compiles a list of possible reasons her boyfriend, John Ferguson, (like the former "number 22 of les Canadiens") (30) has suddenly left Montreal for Florida. Possible reason number two was "You won't speak French." 

But you will not be able to escape Possible Reason 2: Speaking French, because where do you think everybody from Quebec goes in the winter? There will be people speaking French all over the place and if you're in the Tourist Industry you will have to be nice to them, which you never were here. I hope you wind up working in Miami or Hollywood Beach after what you did to me. I hope you have to work in a store with customers who'll only speak French. And I hope they all find out you're nothing but a big Anglo separatist from Quebec. (13)


In contrast to Legault's image of the megalomaniac Anglo, Lenore is in a distinctly subaltern position in relation to Franco-Québécois culture and society. She tries to date Francophone police constable Benoit Archambault, makes friends with "separatist" neighbour, Reine Ducharme, by babysitting her dogs (Brioche [18] and Montcalm [19]), and works at a cabaret-style restaurant called Festin du Bois, [20]which features meat service by les coureurs du bois [21] and entertainment by les filles du roi. [22] Her big break comes when one of the singing waitresses defects to the Maison Hauntée [23] and she is invited to audition to become one of les filles du roi. When she auditions, Gaetan the restaurant manager tells her her voice is good but "my song was trop donner les bleus." [24] She prepares a bilingual version of her girl-guide songs in order to be more Festin-ish which "meant something that celebrates nature or how much fun it is to be French Canadian"—and she gets the job (51).

The style of the novel is unabashedly kitsch. Lenore is a ceaseless collector of the tawdry and arcane,which of course overtakes the structure of the novel as she sends her boyfriend macabre headlines clipped from the Montreal Gazette with each letter, describes the tacky Christmas napkins and cards she has purchased, and reveals her love for Doris Day movies, souvenir plates, and Expo 67 memorabilia. While Heidi tries to educate Lenore to a taste for Canadian and Feminist Literature, their friendship causes more of an educational exchange. Heidi eventually hires Lenore to give a lecture on Doris Day at Concordia and arranges for Lenore's home to be declared a museum. As one Tour Book describes it:
 

Museé d'art foklorique à Lenore/Lenore's Folk Art World: ...A kitschy , cluttered collection of taxi-dermied animals...gnomes and assorted creations à la lawn ornaments,...what may be the most extensive private collection of Expo 67 memorabilia in the world; Grottoes of the Stars;... Not what you'd expect in this English bastion in the midst of New France. It's what the Québécois would deem "trés kétaine," [25] you'll deem it trés fun. (134)

Lenore's museum serves as a mise-en-abyme for the novel as a whole. In fact, its "thrown together" style, with its lists, and headlines, asyndetic references to fragments and details of news and folk/popular culture, notes, agendas and schedules, together with Lenore's open, magpie innocence make the novel an effective vehicle for documenting the multitude of influences which form this Anglo-Québécois world. The novel creates a veritable vortex gathering in Steven King, the Oprah Winfrey Show, soap operas and sitcoms, country and western music, can lit classics, fads and fashions, People magazine and Macleans, the McGarrigle Sisters, the Gulf War, Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, Brian Mulroney, Gille Vigneault and Robert Charlebois, and the fictional trial (echoing the O.J. Simpson case) of mass murderer Jean-Luc Clossé in which, to the incredulity and outrage of the public, he is acquitted by a jury which includes Lenore's neighbour, Reine Ducharme. In this process, the novel demonstrates how Anglo-Québécois culture is formed, not through isolation and insulation but by being the site where a multitude of cultures—pop, American, Canadian, Québécois, feminist, academic and Irish—overlap. 

Literary discourse in general and the form and style of Something Drastic in particular have important roles to play in the display of ethnic culture as the site of metissage and boundary crossings. Though Legault's analysis in L'invention d'une minorité is largely of political discourse, in a 1995 commentary in Le Devoir [26] Legault acknowledges the possibility for what she qualifies as an "anglo-montréalaise" culture: 

...de nombreux anglophones demeurent prisonniers de leur refus d'une recherche imaginative et créatrice de leur identité et de leur appartenance à cette terre québécoise. Ils se replient sur leur solitude et leur crainte face a "l'autre" francophone. D'autant plus lorsque cet "autre" est nationaliste or souverainiste... Heureusement, il existe à Montréal un nombre croissant d'anglophones qui ne craignent pas l'aventure que représente cette recherche. Que l'on songe aux companies de théâtre—Centaur, Bulldog Productions, Black Theatre Workshop et Theatre 1774—ou aux nombreux auteurs, poètes et compositeurs, la volonté de communiquer et de créer une culture anglomontréalaise distincte est indéniable. (A6) [27]


Legault's choice of the regionalizing expression "anglo-montréalaise" over the broader notion of "anglo-québécoise" signals the grudging quality of her ostensibly generous vision. The expression Anglo-Québécois would doubtlessly be repudiated by many English-speaking Quebecers (not to mention Canadians) on the grounds that it inscribes acquiescence to Québécois nationalism. Québécois attachments to notions of cultural purity, signalled by such common expressions as Québécois de souche and Québécois pure laine [28] are also obstructions to an Anglo culture being recognized as Québécois. However, in his book Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada, Neil Bissoondath who lives in Quebec and writes in English and who is described by Linda Hutcheon as "a self-proclaimed assimilated Canadian" (29), suggests a clear preference for Québécois "centeredness." Bissoondath describes "English Canada..." as "adrift with no sense of its centre" whereas "Quebec [has] redefined its own centre, strengthened it, sought to make it unassailable" (196). 

The downside of an "unassailable centre" became apparent on the night of the 1995 referendum when then Premier Jacques Parizeau blamed the failure of the independence resolution on "l'argent et des votes ethniques." [29] And Bissoondath's attempts to attach himself to that center have proven problematic. In June of 1996, some eight months after the referendum, the theme of Bouillon de culture, the French television programme which presents round-table discussions of books and culture, was Quebec. When, near the end of the broadcast, host Bernard Pivot asked the panel, "Mais enfin, pouvez-vous me dire ce qu'est un Québécois?" Bissoondath took the initiative of responding: "Un Québécois, c'est quelqu'un comme moi." [30]  At a conference, in the spring of 97, on English literature and culture in Quebec, distinguished Québécois literary scholar Gillles Marcotte delivered a paper entitled "Neil Bissoondath disait..." (alluding to this segment of Bouillon de culture). In his presentation, Professor Marcotte was categorical that "Citoyen québécois, Neil Bissoondath n'est pas un écrivain québécois" on the basis that "Il n'existe évidemment pas telle chose qu'une littérature anglo-québécois..." (2). [31] 

In L'invention d'une minorité, Legault clearly attaches her argument to these categorical sentiments when, for example, she argues that "s'il est indéniable qu'un certain nombre d'anglophones résidaient bel et bien au Québec, on ne pouvait toutefois parler de l'existence d'une 'communité' anglo québécois"( 58) [32] laying emphasis (through her italics) on the word "québécois." As Legault makes plain, the collective identity that les anglais are beginning to construct is, in her understanding, "'québécois,' dans le sens territorial et non cultural du terme" (58). [33] Ironically, Legault's claims sound like an apologia for the largely Anglo, Quebec "partitionist" movement. [34] They also require that we overlook what Eric Waddell describes as the significant contribution of the Irish, Scottish and Anglo-Saxon traditions "to defining the personality of the province" (167).


The impasse which these binary oppositions set up seems all the more insoluble in the face of the recent tendency to identify a "true Québécois" as a nationalist and sovereigntist, and an Anglo-Québécois as, almost by definition, an opponent of independence. Certainly, Curran's naive heroine in Something Drastic unquestioningly buys into this new version of the two-solitudes myth, as she presumes separation to be anathema. However, when she  meets her neighbour Reine Ducharme, Lenore observes:

Madame Ducharme likes me because I'm bilingual and we always speak French....She's really one for justice. And for Separation! (But we always knew that.) Luckily the subject of Quebec never came up. Still, I had such a nice time with her it didn't matter she was a Separatist. (107, 108)

Something Drastic signals the writer discovering or attempting to discover herself as an Anglo-Québécoise for the first time. In fact, nothing in Curran's twelve published plays between 1981 and 1995 gives any suggestion that she is and has all her life been an English Quebecer. The typical setting of a Curran play is small-town Ontario, though she has set one-act plays in Acapulco and cottage country in New England. Curran has been described as a "tradition" at the Blyth Festival in Blyth, Ontario, where most of her plays have been produced. 

Lenore's self-proclaimed orphan-hood (she is a fully independent adult but her parents have died before the novel opens), together with her recent abandonment, make her a distinctly disconnected, tabula-rasa character, and therefore all the more prepared as an empty vessel to be filled with the distinctly Anglo-Québécois mix of cultures she experiences. Lenore's friend, Heidi Mavornneen Flynn, for example, is passionate about her Irish ethnic roots. Heidi practices Ceili dancing, listens to Chieftain's music, talks of her fighting Irish father and brothers, and celebrates St. Patrick's Day with devotion. Lenore absorbs this Irish essence like an Anglo-Québécois cultural sponge. Curran's upholding of Irish ethnicity, which has also been undertaken by playwrights David Fennario and Marianne Ackerman, becomes all the more striking when juxtaposed to Legault's attempt to reinforce the ethnic line from the conquerors to the modern-day English population of Quebec. 

Using a 1976 survey carried out by the now-defunct Montreal Star, Legault persists in attempting to carry forward a mythical connection between "les conquérants," "les britannique de souche," the modern Anglo-Québécois minority and resistance to the French language:

Selon un sondage effectué par le Montreal Star en 1976, seulement 20% des Québécois anglophones travaillait uniquement en français, et la majorité de ces 20% était d'ailleurs d'origines autres que britannique. En fait, la quasi-totalité des travailleurs de souche britannique travaillait encore dans leur langue. (45) [35]

Although one may detect incredulity in Legault's discourse here, a brief perusal of the relevant statistics will confirm that her tone is, at best, feigned. In the first place, it is universally acknowledged that bilingualism among Anglophones has increased dramatically since 1976 and has outstripped bilingualism among Francophones. There are generally considered to be 800 or 900 thousand Anglophones in Quebec. The numbers are "soft" because they are made up of native speakers of English and native speakers of other languages who live and work in English. According to the 1991 census 599,145 residents of Quebec identified themselves as native speakers of English. However, in the same census year, only 159,260 Quebecers identified themselves as English in terms of ethnic origin. Welsh is not given its own category as a language or an ethnic origin in the Canadian census statistics for Quebec. Including the Scottish (a questionable move according to my Scottish friends) in Legault's category of "britannique de souche" we arrive with a population figure of just over 200,000. In other words Legault's "britannique de souche" make up, at most, about a quarter of the Anglo-Québécois community. Are we to be amazed that in 1976 the majority of Anglophones in Quebec used some English in their work? Our incredulity (and hers) should be erased when we take into account Legault's own statistic that 75% of Quebec Anglos are in the Montreal region together with her claim that "Il faut vivre sur une autre planète pour croire que Montréal, par exemple, sera un jour unilingue française" [36] (48).


Statistically, Quebecers who claim English as an ethnic origin are significantly outnumbered by Italians (by almost 10%). 82,790 Quebecers identified themselves as being of Irish origin in the 91 census. It is these Irish cultural roots which Curran's novel tends to emphasize. To underline the point, Lenore's arch-enemy in the novel is her Anglo neighbor Jemima Farnham whom she describes as "formerly of England, a Monarchist and an Anglo Supremacist" (157).


What the novel outlines to us is that being an Anglo-Québécoise means, for example, the polyphonous experience of travelling by "Métro" (subway) going to the "Complex Sportif" (sports centre) at the Université de Montréal with a celtophile, Anglo professor of Canadian literature to attend a Bonnie Raitt concert and stopping to leave flowers at the memorial for the Polytechnique massacre. [37] It means arranging a date with a Francophone police officer to see either Les Expos or Les Canadiens and thinking "He'll probably take me to Ben's for Smoked Meat. (That's probably what he thinks all the Anglos go for)" (141). Although bilingualism may not have much purchase in French Quebec these days, in the novel it remains the center of an Anglo utopic ideal. Lenore waxes sentimentally:

The other day that musical, Les Misérables, opened here in French and in English. The same cast is doing the show, one time it's all in French, another time it's in English. That is so amazing,it's so bilingual and so hopeful or something. For our city. It's the first time its been done like that, it's all Montreal people in it. And it's professional like the ones in Toronto and New York.
And as if to confirm that her bilingualism, whose icon is a French classic, Anglosized, Americanized and presented in Quebec in French and English, is not an anglocentric strategy, Lenore continues:
That makes me think of the Gulf Desert Storm War, because the bad guys speak English. I've seen them on the news. In the other wars, it was always people who didn't speak our language, but this time they do (32).
Being Anglo-Québécois means celebrating St. Patrick's Day at a restaurant called Festin du Bois where you, the Anglo, have introduced the clientele to a new house wine from a Quebec vineyard, and being able to observe that "the fact that it's Québécois has the pure-laines pretty heureux" (69). Being Anglo-Québécois means observing on New Year's Eve that "if we were politically correct anglophone Quebec Canadians we'd watch ByeBye, that French comedy show looking back at the year, and we'd pretend we understood all the in-jokes" (25). As the novel so copiously displays, being Anglo-Québécois also means speaking a version of English which accommodates such signifiers as "joual," [38] "dépanneur," [39] réveillon," [40] "pure laine," "kétaine," flyé" [41] and "boite a chanson" [42] as well as a host of standard French expressions and institutional and commercial names.

Is there a political allegory to detect in the conclusion of the novel? Perhaps even asking the question is heavy-handed given the author's claims to being apolitical. But Reine Ducharme was captured trying to poison the other jurors with whom she had hastily acquitted Jean-Luc Clossé. There seems to be something here about the Franco-Québécois making rash and hasty decisions which they later regret. Heidi resists marrying into an American family. There seems to be some subtext here, despite Lenore's appetite for American pop culture, about resisting American domination. These are, after all, also English Canadian narratives. Feeble political correctness, tokenism and speaking franglais will not move the political agenda in Quebec. But, through the process of the novel, Lenore has become ever more clearly and fully what she was in the beginning: an Anglo-Québécoise. Her case invites us to begin seeing the hyphen between anglo and québécois, and all such hyphens, not as separations but as possibilities, as "trait d'union," a pulling together. It is a sentimental notion, not a solution, but Legault also concludes her study by giving stern counsel on the need for compromise. Perhaps what the Anglo-Québécois case best demonstrates is what philosopher Charles Taylor, himself an English Quebecer who has upheld Quebec's right to defend its collective cultural interests, [43] calls the need for "'deep diversity,' in which a plurality of ways of belonging would also be acknowledged and accepted" (183). In fact, there are no immediate, viable options other than the ongoing need for invention.


Works Cited

Bauch, Hubert. "Alliance Meeting Turns into Love In." The Gazette [Montreal] 26 May 1995: A4.


Bissoondath, Neil. Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada. Toronto: Penguin, 1994.


Bouillon de Culture. Réal. Michel Hermart. Anim. Bernard Pivot. Radio-Québec. le 2 juin 1996. France 2. le 7 juin 1996.


Curran, Colleen. Something Drastic. Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane, 1995.


Davidson, Arnold E. "Canada in Fiction." The Columbia History of the American Novel. Ed. Emory Elliot. New York: Columbia UP, 1991. 558-85.


Donnelly, Pat. "Successful Montreal Playwright Colleen Curran Finds Home Town Tough Nut to Crack." The Gazette [Montreal] 17 Feb. 1993: B4.


Daymond, Douglas and Monkman, Leslie. "Introduction." Stories of Quebec. Ed. Douglas Daymond and Leslie Monkman. Ottawa: Oberon, 1980. 5-10.


Gruda, Agnès. "La confusion minoritaire." La Presse [Montréal] le 12 avril 1997: B2.


Harris, Cole R. "Regionalism and the Canadian Archipelago." Heartland and Hinterland: A Geography of Canada. Ed. L.D. McCann. 2nd ed. Scarborough: Prentice, 1987. 532-60.


Hutcheon, Linda. "Crypto-Ethnicity." PMLA 118 (1998): 28-33.


Legault, Josée. "Trois solitudes." Le Devoir [Montréal] le 15 novembre 1995 : A6.


—. L'invention d'une minorité : Les Anglo-Québécois. Montréal : Boréal, 1992.


Leith, Linda. "New English Fiction from Quebec." Introduction. Telling Differences: New Fiction in English from Quebec. Ed. Linda Leith. Montreal: Véhicule, 1988. 4-7.


Oxford Guide to Canadian English Usage. Ed. Margery Fee and Janice McAlpine. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1979.


Marcotte, Gilles. "Neil Bissoondath disait..." Conférence. "Le Québec anglais : Littérature et culture." Centre d'études québécois, Université de Montréal. 25 avril 1997.


Sollors, Werner. "Introduction: The Invention of Ethnicity." The Invention of Ethnicity. Ed. Werner Sollors. New York: Oxford UP, 1989. ix-xx.


Taylor, Charles. Reconciling the Solitudes: Essays on Canadian Federalism and Nationalism. Montreal: McGill-Queen's UP, 1993.


Vachon, Robert. "Qui est québécois?" Qui est Québécois? Ed. Robert Vachon et Jacques Langlais. Montréal : Fides, 1979. 119-51.


Waddell, Eric. "Cultural Hearth, Continental Diaspora: The Place of Québec in North America." Heartland and Hinterland: A Geography of Canada. Ed. L.D. McCann. 2nd ed.Scarborough: Prentice, 1987. 149-72.


Yanofsky, Joel. "The Silence of the Lamb Lobby." The Gazette [Montreal] 26 Apr. 1997: i1 and i4.


1. Quebec's second-largest French-language daily


2. The second referendum on Quebec sovereignty was held on October 30, 1995. The vote was 50.56%(2,360,717) against and 49.44% (2,308,072) in favour of the resolution to grant the present government of Quebec the right to declare independence from Canada within one year. There had been a significant and continuous exodus of English-speaking residents from the province of Quebec since prior to the first referendum in May of 1980 in which the sovereigntist declaration was rejected 58.2% (2,258,002 "no votes") to 41.8% (1,619,662 "yes votes"). The English-speaking communities have become more and more the focus of attention because of their declining numbers and status within Quebec, and
because of the pivotal role these communities continue to play in holding the Canadian federation together and, consequently, obstructing the sovereigntist aspirations of French-speaking Quebecers.


3. "A name/title intended to evoke a reaction" (my translation, as are all subsequent translations)


4. "According to the author, there does not really exist in Quebec a community of English Quebecers. This 'minority' was created from scratch for strategic reasons."


5. Based largely on her reading of journalistic and political texts, Legault concludes that the dominant Anglo-Québécois discourse is one of "desolidarization" (199) and "déresponsabilisation" (210), displaying attitudes thatare "nostagique" and "attentiste" (200) and encouraging "la resistance et la confrontation" (198).


6. Bills 63, 22, 101 and 178 were passed into law by successive provincial governments, both Liberal and Parti Québécois. They were designed to guarantee the preservation and growth of French by limiting access to education in English and the use of English on signs, and by requiring the use of French in larger businesses.


7. "A new identity started to be built, largely in reaction and, indeed, in opposition to the nationalist affirmations of Francophones and to the programs undertaken in their name by the government of Quebec."


8. The Parti Québécois, whose central mandate is the independence of Quebec from the rest of Canada, first came to power in 1976. The Parti Québécois has won three of five elections since 1976. They surrendered power to the Quebec Liberals under Robert Bourassa in 1985, and Bourassa's Liberals won again in 1989. The Parti Québécois returned to power in the election of 1994.


9. Legault cites Alliance Quebec documentation that the organization had over 40,000 members in 1989. In 1995, in an article covering the meeting between Parti Québécois Deputy Premier, Bernard Landry, and Alliance Quebec, The Gazette claimed that "Current membership stands at 3,700, down from 10,000 a decade ago." (see Hubert Bauch, "Alliance Meeting Turns into Love In.") The Equality Party emerged largely in reaction to the perception that the Quebec Liberal government under Robert Bourassa had not lived up to its promises to protect English rights. The Equality Party elected four members to the Quebec National Assembly in the 89 election, but none in the 1994 election.


10. This nascent Anglo-Québécois ethnicity might best be described as what Linda (Bortolotti) Hutcheon calls a "crypto-ethnicity" (see her essay "Crypto- Ethnicity" in PMLA). Not only is there reluctance to acknowledge Anglo-Québécois ethnicity in both English and French communities, but English Quebecers are a non-visible and, frequently, an aurally unrecognizable (when they speak French) minority. Hutcheon describes the pleasures and tensions of her own crypto-ethnicity as liberating, as "transethnic" and as "a reminder of the constructedness of all forms of ethnic identity"(32).


11. "Why go back to the past of the 'conquering' British of Quebec in the context of a study covering the years 1974 to 1991? Because this return to the past is essential to the analysis and comprehension of the 'dominant' discourse of English Quebecers of the last twenty years." In order to accept Legault's image of a pure British line (and a pure French line) one has to ignore the history and patterns of immigration and migration which have constructed the present-day communities. (See, for example, Cole R. Harris's "Regionalism and the Canadian Archipelago.")


12. "The English language, economic domination by Anglophones, as well as their own political culture, which they consider superior to that of Francophones, are at the very heart of their collective identity."


13. In "Canada in Fiction" Arnold E. Davidson, who is also the author of Mordecai Richler, judiciously distinguishes English Canadian, Québécois, French Canadian, Native and Ethnic writing but makes no explicit mention of English Quebec. There is no established critical tradition of identifying English Quebec literature. We might note the difference of nuance in Davidson's description of the first North American novel, Frances Brooke's The History of Emily Montague, as "both record and product of the coming into being of what will be Canada" (558) and Douglas Daymond and Leslie Monkland's description of the same novel, in their introduction to Stories of Quebec, as the beginning of "the tradition of anglophone fiction set in Quebec" (5).


14. The expression "lamb lobby" has come into currency in English Quebec to identify those English Quebecers who have adopted soft or passive or acquiescing attitudes toward Québécois nationalism and the minoritization of the English community. Conversely, the French equivalent of 'wolf lobby' (as in 'those who cry wolf') has gained some currency in the French Quebec media to identify English Quebecers in the public sphere who are viewed as strident, reactionary or simply hysterical.

15. Weintraub is the author of the novel Underdogs (1979) which presents a dystopian vision of a repressive and financially bankrupt independent Quebec. The precursor to this novel was likely Richard Rohmer's political thriller Separation (1976) which ends with a failed referendum vote, "48.3%" in favour of Quebec's independence.


16. "With increasing contact between the two languages, more and more French words—particularly those connected to provincial institutions, linguistic politics, and local life—have been assimilated into English, resulting in a new Canadian regional dialect: Quebec English." quoted in the Oxford Guide to Canadian English Usage. Ed. Margery Fee and Janice McAlpine. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1997.


17. "Vendu" meaning "sold" appeared on many "for sale" signs on Quebec property following the election of the Parti Québécois government and prior to the first referendum. The double entendre is that "vendu" can also carry the sense of "a sell-out."


18. "a brioche," a French pastry


19. name of the General who led the French forces and was killed on the Plains of Abraham, the decisive battle leading to the British conquest of New France


20. "A Woodland Feast" or "Banquet in the Woods" but also implies something like "Party Hard"


21. French and Metis explorers in North America who generally travelled by canoe expanding the fur trade


22. women sent to New France to become pioneer brides


23. a Montreal restaurant with "haunted house" decor


24. word for word: "too much giving the blues"


25. very tacky and/or kitsch, but leaves open the possibility of being cute


26. a French-language Quebec daily with modest distribution, but generally considered culturally and politically significant: the paper of the intelligentsia


27. "many Anglophones remain prisoners of their refusal to imaginatively and creatively explore their identity and their connection to this Quebec land. They withdraw into their solitude and fear of the Francophone 'other.' All the more so when that 'other' is nationalist and sovereigntist...Happily, there exists in Montreal a growing number of Anglophones who do not fear the adventure of this exploration. Whether one considers the theatre companies—Centaur, Bulldog Productions, Blac Theatre Workshop and Theatre 1774—or the numerous authors, poets and composers, the desire to communicate and to create a distinct Anglo- Montreal culture is undeniable."


28. Québécois de souche literally translates as being "from the stump."  The expression is usually translated as simply "old stock" but it implies that anyone so described can connect their family origins to the original pioneer inhabitants of New France. In daily usage, anyone who might appear to be a native of Quebec and who is a native speaker of Quebec French will be loosely identified as Québécois de souche. Pure laine (pure wool or 100% pure wool) is simply a more contemporary, colloquial version of the same idea. The obvious problem with these expressions is that, although they are typically used innocently and unconsciously, they inscribe a distinction between "real" Quebecers and "les autres" (another common Québécois expression). Though these expressions seem acceptable as the signifiers of a minority's pride, they take on a different tenor as the common discourse of a nation on the threshold of independence.


29. "money and some ethnic votes." Though the Premier resigned the next day, this remark continued to elicit concern, bewilderment and outrage. Mr. Parizeau is a graduate of the London School of Economics. In "Canada in Fiction," Arnold Davidson classifies the Premier's late wife, Alice (Poznanska) Parizeau, as an "ethnic novelist" (574).


30. "But finally, can you tell me what is a Québécois?" "A Québécois is someone like me." This is hardly the first time the question has been asked. See, for example, Robert Vachon and Jacques Langlais' Qui est Québécois? in which the authors conclude: "Nul d'entre nous n'est vraiment Québécois. Nous somme tous et chacun des Québécois en voie de ledevenir" (151). ["No-one among us is really Québécois. We are each and every one of us Québécois in the process of becoming."]


31. "A Quebec citizen, Neil Bissoondath is not a Québécois writer..." "There is clearly no such thing as an Anglo-Québécois literature..."


32. "though it is undeniable that a certain number of Anglophones do indeed reside in Quebec, one cannot, however, speak of the existence of an Anglo- Québécois 'community.'"


33. "'québécois' in the territorial and not the cultural sense of the term"


34. The "partitionist movement" typically traces its roots to Pierre Trudeau's declaration that "If Canada is divisible, then Quebec is divisible." One of the effects of the last referendum was to clearly identify those (ethnic/anglo) regions which were strongly against independence. Certain municipalities have attempted to pass resolutions indicating their determination to remain a part of Canada should Quebec secede.


35. "According to a survey undertaken by the Montreal Star in 1976, only 20% of Quebec Anglophones worked exclusively in French, and the majority of this 20% was from origins other than British. In effect, nearly all the workers of British origin still worked in their own language."


36. "You would have to live on another planet to believe that Montreal will one day be unilingually French."


37. On December 6, 1989, an anti-feminist gunman killed 14 women at l'École Polytechnique of the Université de Montréal


38. slang term for the popular language of Quebec. It derives from a claim that Quebecers pronounced the French word for 'horse' as 'joual' rather than 'cheval.' Joual has become an object of some pride in Quebec, particularly as its poetic qualities are displayed by Michel Tremblay, Quebec's master playwright and novelist.


39. "small grocery store or corner store"


40. traditional all-night family party


41. adjective for light-headed or spirited or wild behaviour or character


42. night club featuring French folk singers and, often, sing-alongs


43. For example, in Reconciling the Differences, Taylor writes: "...there is something exaggerated, a dangerous overlooking of an essential boundary, in speaking of fundamental rights to such things as commercial signage in the language of one's choice. One has to distinguish between, on the one hand, the fundamental liberties...and, on the other hand, the privileges and immunities which are important but can be revoked for reasons of public policy..." (176-7).

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