L’expression Les deux solitudes semble bien s’appliquer à la polémique entourant la commémoration des plaines d’Abraham. Toute cette saga a suscité des commentaires enflammés, des deux côtés.
À en croire les commentaires sur les blogues et les sites d’information, les internautes canadiens anglais n’apprécient guère, dans l’ensemble, l’annulation de la reconstitution.
L’article sur le sujet du site de la CBC a suscité 600 commentaires, parmi lesquels :
Quel groupe de perdants pathétiques.
« Les enfants gâtés du Canada » [l’expression est en français dans le texte] devraient grandir.
« Qui se soucie de la reconstitution ? Nous SAVONS que nous leur avons botté le derrière ! »
C’est semblable sur le site du Globe and Mail, dont l’article a de son côté généré plus de 500 commentaires, dont ceux-ci :
Je me souviens [en français]... mais pas de cette tranche de l’histoire.
Quand apprendrons-nous que calmer le jeu ne fait que nourrir leur feu ?
Laissons-les quitter le pays ! Ils nous coûtent des milliards chaque année.
La fragilité de la psyché canadienne française est fascinante.
Il semble que les Anglais ont gagné la bataille, mais les Français continuent de gagner la guerre.
Si vous en voulez plus, l’article du National Post provoque les mêmes réactions.
Toutefois, d’autres comprennent la réaction de ceux qui s’y opposaient.
Quelques exemples :
Dieu merci. Cette folie aurait gaspillé l’argent de mes impôts. Je ne vois aucune valeur éducative dans ce spectacle. (sur CBC)
La prochaine fois, reconstituerons-nous la pendaison de Louis Riel sur les marches du Parlement manitobain ? Je suis certain que les Autochtones et les Métis apprécieront autant de revoir la scène que les Québécois l’auraient fait avec la défaite sur les Plaines d’Abraham. (sur CBC)
Vous leur enfoncer le doigt dans l’oeil et vous êtes surpris qu’ils réagissent ? Ça me fait penser à toutes ces marches en Irlande [du Nord] qui commémorent les victoires des Britanniques. Les Irlandais le prennent mal, essayez de comprendre pourquoi ! (sur CBC)
Si reconstituer la bataille est un enjeu délicat qui aliénera certains Canadiens, alors la courtoisie veut que nous ne le fassions pas. (Sur le G&M)
Un Québécois (de la ville) écrit :
Sachez que les francophones lisent l’anglais et que nous sentons vraiment tout l’amour que vous avez pour nous ! (sur le G&M)
Un Torontois conclut :
Les commentaires agressifs qu’on peut lire en réaction à cet article prouve que c’était un bon choix d’annuler l’événement. (sur le G&M)
Organizers cancel mock Battle of the Plains of Abraham
Federal minister accuses sovereigntists of playing politics with commemoration
CBC News Tuesday, February 17, 2009
History buffs were to re-enact the Battle of the Plains of Abraham on the site of the battle this summer in Quebec City to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the British victory over the French.History buffs were to re-enact the Battle of the Plains of Abraham on the site of the battle this summer in Quebec City to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the British victory over the French. (National Battlefields Commission) The National Battlefields Commission has cancelled a re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham set for Quebec City this summer due to security concerns that the mock battle could turn into a modern-day conflict.
The federal body, which is responsible for the Plains site outside the fortified walls of Quebec City, announced Tuesday that a commemorative recreation of the 1759 battle is no longer welcome on the original battlefield site.
"We cannot compromise the security of families and children that would attend the event," said André Juneau, head of the commission.
The mock battle was supposed to be the highlight of a series of commemorative activities this summer in Quebec City to mark the 250th anniversary of the battle in which the British beat the French for control of what was then called New France.
Over a four-day period in August, the "re-enactors," as they are called, were going to set up period-style camps and a marketplace for the public to visit.
On the final day, 2,000 people in full costume and armed with replica weapons were to march onto the grassy field and re-enact the conquest of the British over the French.
However, with growing controversy and threats of violence from some sovereigntists, the commission decided the site was no longer appropriate for the commemoration.
Heritage minister reacts
The controversy began several weeks ago when leaders of the separatist Parti Québécois and Bloc Québécois began criticizing the event as a slap in the face for Quebecers of French ancestry.
Sovereigntist groups launched petitions and internet campaigns.
Some of the participants received threatening letters.
Speaking in Montreal on Tuesday, federal Heritage Minister James Moore said he was disappointed the re-enactment would not proceed as planned.
He blamed the Bloc and PQ for torpedoing the event just to gain political points.
"The Bloc Québécois and those people who played politics with this event to the detriment of the city of Quebec, I think [they] have done a real disservice," Moore said.
Moore pointed out that another re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham was held 10 years ago under a PQ government, and no one made a fuss back then.
Critics satisfied, surprised
Quebec sovereigntist groups reacted quickly to Tuesday’s announcement, with representatives saying they were happy with the decision.
However, Sylvain Rocheleau, a spokesperson for Le Réseau du résistance du Québécois, said he was not convinced by the reason given.
"We were a bit surprised that they cancelled the event because of fear of violent acts," said Rocheleau.
He said any threats of violence or confrontation came from a small minority of the overall movement against the re-enactment.
"I think the commission wants us to believe they cancelled the event following threats from extremist movements," said Rocheleau.
"[I think] they had to cancel the event because it was insulting a majority of francophones. They had to cancel it because it was a bad idea."
Another battle recreation cancelled too
Stéphane Tremblay of the Quebec Historical Corps said the cancellation was unfortunate, but the right move.
"We understand the reasoning behind the cancellation and we fully support the National Battlefields Commission in its decision," said Tremblay.
"The Quebec Historical Corps cannot in good conscience allow thousands of dedicated volunteers not to mention spectators and staff to potentially put themselves in harm’s way by participating in an event which has been a subject of threats of disruption and even violence."
The recreation of another battle of the period, the Battle of Sainte-Foy, has also been cancelled.
Tremblay said his organization has made no decision about moving either re-enactment to new locations.
Separatists win Plains of Abraham battle
Ottawa cancels re-enactment of famous battle over fears of separatist disruptions
Globe and Mail February 17, 2009
QUEBEC CITY — A federal agency has cancelled the re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, blaming separatists for threatening to disrupt the event that they deemed political propaganda.
The president of the National Battlefields Commission, André Juneau, has been at the centre of the controversy that included accusations that the former sponsorship program was used to increase the federal government’s visibility in Quebec City.
On Tuesday Mr. Juneau invoked safety and security concerns to justify the cancellation of the event marking the 250th anniversary of the British conquest of New France, citing separatist groups who have called for violence to disrupt the re-enactment.
When asked if the separatists must carry the blame for the cancellation, Mr. Juneau said bluntly : “Yes.
“Given the excessive language in the past few days and the threats made through the media, we could not as a responsible agency compromise the security of families and children who could attend the event,” he said.
Heritage Minister James Moore agreed that the threat of violence left the commission no choice but to cancel the re-enactment.
“I think the Bloc Québécois and those who played politics with this event …, to the detriment of recognizing a fact of Canadian history, have done a real disservice to the City of Quebec,” Mr. Moore said on Tuesday in Montreal.
For the past few weeks, Quebeckers have witnessed a slugfest between federalists and separatist groups on the historical meaning of celebrating the British conquest, which shaped the destiny of francophone culture in North America.
In Quebec City, some radio hosts strongly defended the commission’s decision to hold the re-enactment. As they called on the Montreal-based separatist groups to leave their city alone, opponents grew even more determined to stop the event.
“Quebec’s trash radio stations were creating a context of civil war. We weren’t the only aggressive ones,” said Patrick Bourgeois, head of the small group Réseau de résistance du Québécois, which mounted the opposition against the event.
“Sure, we were promoting civil disobedience. But so were they. The potential for violence was there.”
For weeks a war of words has erupted in newspapers, on the Web and on open-line radio shows throughout the province.
A modern version of the Plains of Abrahams battle was in the making, with the federal government accused of selling the event as a festive tourist attraction.
“It was odious and unreasonable to have suggested that the commission planned to celebrate a military defeat,” Mr. Juneau said.
Quebec’s Historical Corps, with its hundreds of volunteers, was poised to re-enact the historical battle. The group had harsh words for the vocal separatists vying to have it cancelled.
“While we respect people’s difference of opinion, we find it abhorrent that any faction would resort to such measures. It is most unfortunate that the extremist reactions of the few should keep the re-enactment of the event from happening,” said Stéphane Tremblay, head of the volunteer group.
The president of the nationalist Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society of Montreal, Mario Beaulieu, said the controversy showed the importance for Quebec to take full control over all cultural events.
“If Quebec is a nation, it is up to Quebec to manage its heritage,” Mr. Beaulieu said. “The fact that the Plains of Abraham is still held by the federal government shows it is a remnant of British colonialism and English domination.”
A demonstration will be held on Sunday in Ottawa on Parliament Hill where nationalists will argue that Ottawa has no business in deciding how to run Quebec’s cultural affairs.
“It’s a partial victory, through the mobilization of citizens. But we have to win the total retreat from the federal government,” Mr. Beaulieu said.