Pauline Marois, the new separatist Quebec premier, behaved quite nicely at the francophonie meeting last week in Kinshasa. But boy, did she let loose in Paris yesterday, blasting Canada’s foreign policy as something that “does not correspond to our values or our interests.” She meant Quebec’s values and interests, of course. “Quebecers haven’t recognized themselves in Canada’s foreign policy in several years, since it turned its back on its tradition of openness, mediation and multilateralism,” she added, before launching into this: “Lester B. Pearson, the father of peacekeeping, who won a Nobel peace prize for solving the Suez crisis, inspired Canada’s foreign policy for 50 years. This is manifestly no longer the case.”
Note that she said these things in front of a crowd that included Canada’s ambassador to UNESCO, former Tory MP Jean-Pierre Blackburn, who did not seem offended. He called her speech “interesting” and “potentially inspiring” for those who share her point of view.
I asked Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister whether he had anything to say to that, and this is what John Baird’s press secretary Rick Roth answered:
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Harper, the interests and values of Canadians and Quebeckers are proudly pursued on the world stage.
The values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law will continue to be the centrepiece of our foreign policy and we believe that is something that Quebeckers and all Canadians can be very proud of.
Whether it is standing up against early and forced marriages, the role of women in civil society, or speaking out against the persecution of gays around the world, we will stand up for what is right and just regardless of whether it is convenient or expedient.
I understand the feds don’t want to give the separatists anything to get angry about. Don’t rise to the bait and all that. I get it. But really? Do you find this defense of Canada’s foreign policy strong enough? I don’t.