I'm reminded of a line in J.M. Coetzee's novel WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS.
A mellowed colonial governor in the hinterland of an unnamed nation is
taken prisoner by a ruthless agent of the central government. In the short
time since his arrival, the agent has brutalized and tortured the local
denizens. Now imprisoned, the governor muses: I am the lie the empire
tells in good times; he is the truth the empire tells in bad times (to
Parizeau, in this equation, is the ruthless agent. The colonial governor
is any of a number of Canadian politicians (and "ordinary" Canadians).
Item #1: (Attn: Sergio Marchi, Jean Chretien) The new immigration head tax
which primarily affects potential immigrants from the global South, many
of whom are already here in Canada waiting to attain landed status.
Item #2 (Attn: Mike Harris) The plan to cut all "services" to immigrants,
supposedly a federal responsibility (ie. legal aid and consultation to
immigrants appealing their deportation, ethnic group specific support
Item #3: (Attn: Mike Harris) The war on Metro Toronto in the name of
budget cuts (the revenge of the country and the 'burbs on cosmopolitan
Toronto - a retroactive Anglo-Canadian nationalism that feeds on the
nostalgia of 'the good old days').
Ethnic nationalism in Quebec has brought racism out of the closet. It is
more transparent about its inclinations than the liberal pluralism of the
rest of Canada. Is this not akin to the distinction people of colour make
between racism in the U.S. and Canada? - That it can be sometimes easier
to fight in the U.S. because it is right there on the table?
What bugs me about the whole Parizeau-the-racist-pig refrain that
Anglo-Canada indulged in today, is the type of denial and opportunism it
masks. (I direct my comments at the media tidal wave, not at the comments
on this list, the sentiments of which I share). Perhaps I react so
strongly because Bill Caroll, T.O.'s right-wing populist radio guy, was
frothing at the mouth with such gusto today. I agreed with much of what he
said, but by the time he had put Parizeau on his "Wall of Shame" (a daily
ritual) it was all getting to be a bit too much. Racism is as much a part
of Anglo-Canada as it is of Quebec. That it is not being mobilized in the
name of local political ambitions does not make it any more palatable.
(This also accounts for why many Quebecois nationalists would be just as
offended as Anglo-Canadians by Parizeau's comments).
Vive les anti-racistes!
Michael Hoechsmann, OISE