This Magazine Staff
It must be so nice to be a Liberal MP, especially a Liberal MP from Quebec. You’re almost guaranteed a spot in Cabinet, no matter how boneheaded you happen to be. To boot, you get to treat the entire country as your own little sandbox, wherein you can build and destroy sandcastles as the whimsy strikes.
One would think that the Liberals might have learned something from the sponsorship scandal, viz., that neither Quebecers nor the rest of Canada really appreciate the Liberals running things like this is some third-rate kleptocracy. One would think. But enter Liza Frulla, who has inexplicably been given the job of Minister of Canadian Heritage.
Here’s Liza last month, opining on the prospect of Don Cherry returning to HNIC, clipped from the CBC website:
In an interview appearing in Saturday’s edition of La Presse, Frulla told the Montreal newspaper that if Cherry “persists in wanting to insult whoever, I can’t support that. This man has to stick to sport.”
“If Don Cherry sticks to sports analysis, he is a colourful sports analyst like so many others,” added Frulla.
Who does she think she’s working for? Mao? Why not just rename her portfolio the Ministry of Truth and Culture and be done with it?
Wait, there’s worse. I can’t actually bring myself to even type it because the froth from my mouth will destroy my keyboard. So I’m going to cut and paste it from Paul Wells’ blog (if it bugs you Wells, let me know and I’ll delete it).
Last week Liza Frulla, Canada’s minister of Canadian heritage, said Quebec’s Minister of Culture can defend Canadian positions at international meetings, including UNESCO.
“There will be cases where I won’t be there or I will be busy in Parliament while Line will be able to attend these meetings,” Frulla said, referring to her just-us-gals first-names-only pal, Line Beauchamp. “We have a modus operandi. Line can very well speak for the two of us. We will agree beforehand.”
Great. I’ve got just a few questions for “Liza.”
1. If “Line” is tied up at the National Assembly or maybe stuck late at the orthodontist’s, will you be filling in for her at meetings of provincial ministers?
2. Can you name any ministers from other provinces with whom you’re on a first-name, hey-can-you-pitch-in-for-me-at-UNESCO basis?
3. Can you name any other provinces?
4. If this is a Quebec-only thing, then, uh… why is it a Quebec-only thing? There may be a perfectly good reason why Quebec should be treated differently in matters of culture. The fun bit is, none of us has heard why that might be, from this government.
5. More precisely: If Quebec is so different from the rest of Canada on cultural matters that the presence of a federal minister is insufficient, and Quebec must have its own ministers present too… then what qualifies those ministers to speak, occasionally, for the foreign culture of “English Canada?”
6. This isn’t really a question, but I started in point form and now I’m stuck with it. So anyway, what I’m saying is: Either mon Canada comprend le Québec, which means, by one possible translation, that my Canada gets Quebec —or it doesn’t. But if Quebec is incomprehensible to the feds, requiring a Quebec minister to represent her own unique culture along with the federal minister… then by the same token no Quebec provincial minister can understand or hope to speak for the alien culture of English Canada.
7. Or perhaps I’m wrong. Let’s check: Say both “Liza” and “Line” are stuck some weekend at the hunting lodge and there’s a big meeting in Geneva on cultural politics. Is it fine by both of them if Newfoundland’s culture minister (“Alf”) or Alberta’s culture minister (“Stu”) or Manitoba’s culture minister (“Cedric”) goes off to defend Quebec culture in their place?
8. If not, why not?
9. Will this still be okay when a Parti Québécois government holds power in Quebec? Would “Liza” have advocated that Diane Lemieux should speak for Ontarians at UNESCO, after “Diane” had patiently explained that Ontario has no culture?
10. What’s the protocol for that sort of thing, anyway? Do you defend the Canadian position first, and then the secessionist position? Or do you give the PQ line first, and then conclude by saying, “But if you guys don’t go for that sort of thing, here’s what my English-Canadian dominators want me to say”? Or is it a kind of alternating-paragraph thing, maybe with little blue and red flag props to make sure nobody loses track?
11. When will the government of Canada, if I may use that term loosely, explain any of this to the citizens of Canada?
Bottom line: either Quebec needs separate representation or it doesn’t. I find the idea that Quebec needs separate representation silly but tolerable. But simple logic holds that if Canada cannot speak for Quebec, then Quebec cannot speak for Canada. I did not believe I would ever have to explain this to my government.
Right. So now that Mr. Wells has kindly explained it to us, I think we need to get an explanation from Mr. Martin, who is apparently our Prime Minister. I am simply going to print out Wells’ post and mail it, under a cover letter, to “Liza”, Paul Martin, and my home MP, demanding an explanation.
Some suggestions: Don’t send email. In my experience, you are much more likely to get a response if you send either a fax or a letter. Remember, mail may be sent postage-free to any Member at the following address:
House of Commons
Here is a link to an alphabetical list of all MPs. You can also search by party and by location. They all have clickable links to their addresses etc.