Blackhumouristpress's Blog

August 3, 2009

Wine with the Prime Minister

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 4:24 am
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After 225 years of French rule in North America, a battle on the Plains of Abraham ended all that. A general for the British by the name of Wolfe, defeated a French general by the name of Montcalme at the Battle of Quebec in 1759. At the Treaty of Paris in 1763, New France was named Quebec. France was left with two islands near Newfoundland. The British sought to have all French inhabitants assimilate into British ways. In 1774, fearing that the French citizens of Quebec might team up with George Washington and company, the British passed the Quebec Act which recognized French law, language, culture and the Roman Catholic Church. Assimilation was impossible after the passage of that act. French culture continued in Quebec.
In October of 1995, the 30th to be exact, the future of Canada as we know it presently, was being decided. The province of Quebec was voting on a referendum to decide if Quebec should be a sovereign nation. Two weeks before the casting of the vote in Quebec, the sovereign vote was ahead in the polls by nearly five percent. The night of the election, everyone was on the edge of their seats, in Canada only.
93% of eligible voters turned out to vote making it close to 4.7 million voters in Quebec. 53,498 people out of 4.7 million were the difference in Quebec becoming a sovereign nation and seceding from Canada. Most of the 53,000 people were foreign born non-French and non-English speaking immigrants. For the Parti Quebecois, it was a defeat to be sure. There to this day are grumblings and strong feelings in Quebec about going it alone where French could be spoken by French without having to ever speak English. Where stop signs would forever say Arête and any Americanized, English words would and could be abolished once and for all. The preservation of French culture would have been mandated by law instead of the French and English that now exists in the province of Quebec. Not very interesting? Not many people took notice outside of Canada at the time and today not many know that the future of Canada was being decided the day before Halloween in 1995. But this really is not the story. The story is the story within the story, which is usually the case. It’s not the substance that mattered it was the drama and tension as a result of the referendum.
To protect his identity and to keep me from being sued, I have altered the name of the Parti Quebecois member of the Canadian House of Commons, representing an area not far from the Ontario border in Quebec by the name of Etienne Cadeau.
Etienne was short and portly. His dark hair was receding and he had a large gap between his two front teeth. Etienne had a gift for being able to talk to anyone about anything and seem interested. It is a trait which is necessary to be a politician.
Mr. Cadeau was born and raised in the Atlantic coast city of Gaspe not far from where Jacques Cartier planted a cross for France back in 1534.
Etienne’s father was a fisherman and his mother raised nine children. Etienne was an above average student who went to Laval in Quebec City and became a lawyer. While is college, Etienne met and married a woman by the name of Jeanette who was born in the city of Gatineau, not far from the nation’s capital of Ottawa in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Cadeau left the Liberal Party to join the Bloc Quebecois in 1990 and became a member of parliament representing a region of western Quebec. Things looked good for those that wanted sovereignty for Quebec. Mr. Cadeau saw himself as a possible candidate for the first president of the Republic of Quebec. He could be the French George Washington and forever live on coins and paper money. The night of the election, Etienne watched the results from a bar that was frequented by French Canadian politicians and other various separatists. On the wall were pictures of Rene Levesque and Charles de Galle, the French Canadian flag and the words, “Je me souviens” which translates to mean in English, I remember or I remember my French heritage.
As the hours passed, Etienne and others became more drunk and disappointed. Etienne sat at a table with other MPs of French extraction that were looking forward to a new nation for North American Francophones. It became clear late in the evening that the referendum had been defeated by a 50.6 to 49.4 percent. One percent of the province was the difference. Etienne was so upset that he threw down his Canadian money with the English queen on it and staggered out into the night. The air was cold with a hint of winter that was about to come to that part of Canada. Etienne got into his Citroen that he imported from France and drove towards the bridge that would take him across to Ottawa where he lived during sessions of parliament.

Bill Stowe was a descendant of people who once lived in the colony which became the United States of America. They were loyalists and wanted to remain loyal to the crown. After the colonists gained their own country, Bill’s ancestors moved north. Over the course of two hundred years, Bill’s family never bred much with people over other persuasions. There was a Dutch woman and a Flemish Belgian man who married into the Stowe clan. For the most part, they were of Anglo-Saxon stock.
Bill had played hockey and was a stand out in the Ontario Hockey League until one too many concussions sidelined his career and forced him to seek other means to an end. Bill became a police officer in the OPP or Ontario Provincial Police.
Bill grew up in Ajax which was about 50 kilometers from the city of Toronto. Upon being hired into the OPP, Bill had to move to Windsor near the Detroit border and then all the way to Cornwall near the Quebec border. It had been five years that Bill had been living and working for the OPP near Ottawa. Bill liked Ottawa.
Bill sat sipping Tim Horton’s Coffee and talking to a fellow trooper on the citizen band radio about their men’s league hockey team that was taking a trip to Calgary to play against other police teams from all over Canada and the United States. The team to beat were the Mounties from near Edmonton. They had won the tournament three years in a row. This year, Bill’s team got some fresh blood. Two young rookies just got done playing in the Ontario Hockey League and were more than capable of helping the Ottawa OPP.
Coming off the bridge that leads from Hull, Quebec to Ottawa, Ontario was the black Citroen. The Citroen’s wheels screeched as Etienne cornered. It was on Queen Elizabeth Street that Etienne cornered too fast and slammed head on into a lamppost. Bill had followed the screeching Citroen with Quebec plates, ever since the bridge. Etienne sat banging his head on the steering wheel of his car that was cleaved right up the center of the car. Etienne was able to start the car again. He put it in drive, thinking that he was in reverse and knocked the lamppost down onto two other parked cars. One of the parked cars had just some dents on the hood but the second one had the ornamental head of the lamp, resting on the front seat of the sedan after it had ripped through the windshield. Etienne got out of his car and kicked and punched as he swore in French. Unbeknownst to him, Bill walked up and flashed a light in Etienne’s eyes. Bill spoke first.
“Sir… Don’t move. I want to hear from you what just happened,” commanded Bill.
“What happened? I will tell you what appened… We lost our chance to be our own nation by less than one percentage point. Eef we aad won dee referendum, ah would not be eer raht now speaking to ahn English speaking cop een fucking Ottawa… Fucking dumb English prick,” said an inebriated Etienne, while staring at the light of the flash light.
“Sir, I need to know why it is that you were driving so fast that you lost control of your vehicle. Calling me names is not going to help you right now, eh? I need to see your driver’s license…”
Etienne had set his wallet down on the chair besides where he was sitting at the bar in Hull. Nobody would steal the wallet and it was probably being held by the bartender at that moment. Etienne let the officer know what had happened.
“Ah can geeve you the name and number of the bar een Hull. Ah left eet on a chair next to me… Een any event, I ham a MP. I leeve on Queens Street when I ham not leeving en Quebec,” said Etienne.
“Sir… I’m going to have to take you in to custody,” said Bill.
Etienne did not go down without a fight. He swore and punched Bill. Bill could be heard on the radio, calling for backup. Three other troopers showed within a minute to detain the member of the House of Commons. Later that morning, under the light of day, Etienne was released from OPP holding pen. Reporters from papers all over Canada as well as the CBC camped out to get a comment from the drunken driving Member of Parliament. Etienne refused to speak English. In French he made a statement in the form of questions. Here is the English translation;
“If I were an English speaking member of the House of Commons, would I have been arrested? Do you believe this is another symbolic statement by government officials that the French citizens of this nation will always be second class citizens within Canada? You need to answer these questions. The people of Quebec have voted by the thinnest of margins to remain part of Canada and who were the 50,000 who put the no vote over the top? Not French speaking citizens of Quebec whose lineage dates back three hundred years to France… That’s all I can say right now…”
A sharp witted columnist who had a syndicated column in English language newspapers throughout Canada commented on the incident. That more than anything else, fuelled the smoldering fire. In Quebec, separatists began to smash windows of businesses that had English sounding names. A five second film clip showed a group of separatists singing in French and burning the Canadian flag. The scene looked more like the taking of American hostages in Iran than something that could have happened in Canada. It was at that point that the prime minister had to step in.
Jean Chrétien, the 20th Prime Minister of the country which is Canada, tried to calm the situation. Luckily for Chretien at the time, there were no reporters around when he was told about the situation. He did say in French, “ Il est tres stupide…”. It wasn’t clear if the situation was stupid, The drunk member of parliament or the OPP police officer. In either case, the press was not present to hear the prime minister. The situation escalated without any help.
Jean Chretien, understood that even though the referendum had failed, the country could still be in crisis due to an individual incident that was quite symbolic; French discrimination from an English heavy hand. Chretien had invited the two men in question to meet on the Plains of Abraham to drink a bottle of wine from the province of Ontario and another from the province of Quebec. Red wine would be drunk by the three men from each province in a dark wooded room that overlooked the St. Lawrence River from the Chateau Frontenac. Bill Stowe, Etienne Cadeau and Jean Chrétien sat in the room and discussed the whole situation and the situation that occurred from the situation. Before both bottles were finished, the conversation turned to ice hockey. Bill graciously declared that Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was probably the best hockey player to have played the sport even though in his heart bill believed it to really be Gordie Howe. Etienne declared that the best player was difficult to declare but that it might have been Gordie Howe since he was able to play professionally into his fifties even though Etienne really believed the best of best was Maurice Richard. All men declared by the end of meeting that they would do all within their abilities to keep Canada intact. Seven years later at the invitation of the prime minister, Etienne and Bill watched Canada win the gold medal for Canada. The two men with lumps in their throats, stood as the national anthem played. Both men sang the words in their own languages as the flag was raised above all others in Utah. It was a proud moment for Canada. Oh Canada…

After 225 years of French rule in North America, a battle on the Plains of Abraham ended all that. A general for the British by the name of Wolfe, defeated a French general by the name of Montcalme at the Battle of Quebec in 1759. At the Treaty of Paris in 1763, New France was named Quebec. France was left with two islands near Newfoundland. The British sought to have all French inhabitants assimilate into British ways. In 1774, fearing that the French citizens of Quebec might team up with George Washington and company, the British passed the Quebec Act which recognized French law, language, culture and the Roman Catholic Church. Assimilation was impossible after the passage of that act. French culture continued in Quebec.
In October of 1995, the 30th to be exact, the future of Canada as we know it presently, was being decided. The province of Quebec was voting on a referendum to decide if Quebec should be a sovereign nation. Two weeks before the casting of the vote in Quebec, the sovereign vote was ahead in the polls by nearly five percent. The night of the election, everyone was on the edge of their seats, in Canada only.
93% of eligible voters turned out to vote making it close to 4.7 million voters in Quebec. 53,498 people out of 4.7 million were the difference in Quebec becoming a sovereign nation and seceding from Canada. Most of the 53,000 people were foreign born non-French and non-English speaking immigrants. For the Parti Quebecois, it was a defeat to be sure. There to this day are grumblings and strong feelings in Quebec about going it alone where French could be spoken by French without having to ever speak English. Where stop signs would forever say Arête and any Americanized, English words would and could be abolished once and for all. The preservation of French culture would have been mandated by law instead of the French and English that now exists in the province of Quebec. Not very interesting? Not many people took notice outside of Canada at the time and today not many know that the future of Canada was being decided the day before Halloween in 1995. But this really is not the story. The story is the story within the story, which is usually the case. It’s not the substance that mattered it was the drama and tension as a result of the referendum.
To protect his identity and to keep me from being sued, I have altered the name of the Parti Quebecois member of the Canadian House of Commons, representing an area not far from the Ontario border in Quebec by the name of Etienne Cadeau.
Etienne was short and portly. His dark hair was receding and he had a large gap between his two front teeth. Etienne had a gift for being able to talk to anyone about anything and seem interested. It is a trait which is necessary to be a politician.
Mr. Cadeau was born and raised in the Atlantic coast city of Gaspe not far from where Jacques Cartier planted a cross for France back in 1534.
Etienne’s father was a fisherman and his mother raised nine children. Etienne was an above average student who went to Laval in Quebec City and became a lawyer. While is college, Etienne met and married a woman by the name of Jeanette who was born in the city of Gatineau, not far from the nation’s capital of Ottawa in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Cadeau left the Liberal Party to join the Bloc Quebecois in 1990 and became a member of parliament representing a region of western Quebec. Things looked good for those that wanted sovereignty for Quebec. Mr. Cadeau saw himself as a possible candidate for the first president of the Republic of Quebec. He could be the French George Washington and forever live on coins and paper money. The night of the election, Etienne watched the results from a bar that was frequented by French Canadian politicians and other various separatists. On the wall were pictures of Rene Levesque and Charles de Galle, the French Canadian flag and the words, “Je me souviens” which translates to mean in English, I remember or I remember my French heritage.
As the hours passed, Etienne and others became more drunk and disappointed. Etienne sat at a table with other MPs of French extraction that were looking forward to a new nation for North American Francophones. It became clear late in the evening that the referendum had been defeated by a 50.6 to 49.4 percent. One percent of the province was the difference. Etienne was so upset that he threw down his Canadian money with the English queen on it and staggered out into the night. The air was cold with a hint of winter that was about to come to that part of Canada. Etienne got into his Citroen that he imported from France and drove towards the bridge that would take him across to Ottawa where he lived during sessions of parliament.

Bill Stowe was a descendant of people who once lived in the colony which became the United States of America. They were loyalists and wanted to remain loyal to the crown. After the colonists gained their own country, Bill’s ancestors moved north. Over the course of two hundred years, Bill’s family never bred much with people over other persuasions. There was a Dutch woman and a Flemish Belgian man who married into the Stowe clan. For the most part, they were of Anglo-Saxon stock.
Bill had played hockey and was a stand out in the Ontario Hockey League until one too many concussions sidelined his career and forced him to seek other means to an end. Bill became a police officer in the OPP or Ontario Provincial Police.
Bill grew up in Ajax which was about 50 kilometers from the city of Toronto. Upon being hired into the OPP, Bill had to move to Windsor near the Detroit border and then all the way to Cornwall near the Quebec border. It had been five years that Bill had been living and working for the OPP near Ottawa. Bill liked Ottawa.
Bill sat sipping Tim Horton’s Coffee and talking to a fellow trooper on the citizen band radio about their men’s league hockey team that was taking a trip to Calgary to play against other police teams from all over Canada and the United States. The team to beat were the Mounties from near Edmonton. They had won the tournament three years in a row. This year, Bill’s team got some fresh blood. Two young rookies just got done playing in the Ontario Hockey League and were more than capable of helping the Ottawa OPP.
Coming off the bridge that leads from Hull, Quebec to Ottawa, Ontario was the black Citroen. The Citroen’s wheels screeched as Etienne cornered. It was on Queen Elizabeth Street that Etienne cornered too fast and slammed head on into a lamppost. Bill had followed the screeching Citroen with Quebec plates, ever since the bridge. Etienne sat banging his head on the steering wheel of his car that was cleaved right up the center of the car. Etienne was able to start the car again. He put it in drive, thinking that he was in reverse and knocked the lamppost down onto two other parked cars. One of the parked cars had just some dents on the hood but the second one had the ornamental head of the lamp, resting on the front seat of the sedan after it had ripped through the windshield. Etienne got out of his car and kicked and punched as he swore in French. Unbeknownst to him, Bill walked up and flashed a light in Etienne’s eyes. Bill spoke first.
“Sir… Don’t move. I want to hear from you what just happened,” commanded Bill.
“What happened? I will tell you what appened… We lost our chance to be our own nation by less than one percentage point. Eef we aad won dee referendum, ah would not be eer raht now speaking to ahn English speaking cop een fucking Ottawa… Fucking dumb English prick,” said an inebriated Etienne, while staring at the light of the flash light.
“Sir, I need to know why it is that you were driving so fast that you lost control of your vehicle. Calling me names is not going to help you right now, eh? I need to see your driver’s license…”
Etienne had set his wallet down on the chair besides where he was sitting at the bar in Hull. Nobody would steal the wallet and it was probably being held by the bartender at that moment. Etienne let the officer know what had happened.
“Ah can geeve you the name and number of the bar een Hull. Ah left eet on a chair next to me… Een any event, I ham a MP. I leeve on Queens Street when I ham not leeving en Quebec,” said Etienne.
“Sir… I’m going to have to take you in to custody,” said Bill.
Etienne did not go down without a fight. He swore and punched Bill. Bill could be heard on the radio, calling for backup. Three other troopers showed within a minute to detain the member of the House of Commons. Later that morning, under the light of day, Etienne was released from OPP holding pen. Reporters from papers all over Canada as well as the CBC camped out to get a comment from the drunken driving Member of Parliament. Etienne refused to speak English. In French he made a statement in the form of questions. Here is the English translation;
“If I were an English speaking member of the House of Commons, would I have been arrested? Do you believe this is another symbolic statement by government officials that the French citizens of this nation will always be second class citizens within Canada? You need to answer these questions. The people of Quebec have voted by the thinnest of margins to remain part of Canada and who were the 50,000 who put the no vote over the top? Not French speaking citizens of Quebec whose lineage dates back three hundred years to France… That’s all I can say right now…”
A sharp witted columnist who had a syndicated column in English language newspapers throughout Canada commented on the incident. That more than anything else, fuelled the smoldering fire. In Quebec, separatists began to smash windows of businesses that had English sounding names. A five second film clip showed a group of separatists singing in French and burning the Canadian flag. The scene looked more like the taking of American hostages in Iran than something that could have happened in Canada. It was at that point that the prime minister had to step in.
Jean Chrétien, the 20th Prime Minister of the country which is Canada, tried to calm the situation. Luckily for Chretien at the time, there were no reporters around when he was told about the situation. He did say in French, “ Il est tres stupide…”. It wasn’t clear if the situation was stupid, The drunk member of parliament or the OPP police officer. In either case, the press was not present to hear the prime minister. The situation escalated without any help.
Jean Chretien, understood that even though the referendum had failed, the country could still be in crisis due to an individual incident that was quite symbolic; French discrimination from an English heavy hand. Chretien had invited the two men in question to meet on the Plains of Abraham to drink a bottle of wine from the province of Ontario and another from the province of Quebec. Red wine would be drunk by the three men from each province in a dark wooded room that overlooked the St. Lawrence River from the Chateau Frontenac. Bill Stowe, Etienne Cadeau and Jean Chrétien sat in the room and discussed the whole situation and the situation that occurred from the situation. Before both bottles were finished, the conversation turned to ice hockey. Bill graciously declared that Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was probably the best hockey player to have played the sport even though in his heart bill believed it to really be Gordie Howe. Etienne declared that the best player was difficult to declare but that it might have been Gordie Howe since he was able to play professionally into his fifties even though Etienne really believed the best of best was Maurice Richard. All men declared by the end of meeting that they would do all within their abilities to keep Canada intact. Seven years later at the invitation of the prime minister, Etienne and Bill watched Canada win the gold medal for Canada. The two men with lumps in their throats, stood as the national anthem played. Both men sang the words in their own languages as the flag was raised above all others in Utah. It was a proud moment for Canada. Oh Canada…

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