The trouble with historical analogies


After Gilles Duceppe used the term “resistance movement” to describe the cause of Quebec sovereignty, he explained himself to reporters.

Later grilled by journalists, Duceppe denied his comments were a direct comparison to France’s resistance movement, claiming his speech was inspired by prominent Quebec author and unionist Pierre Vadeboncoeur, who died last February. He also reportedly quipped the French resistance didn’t grant news conferences.

But he added that resistance movements—like the one in France during the Second World War—were necessary to establishing sovereignty. “Neither Quebec sovereignty nor the Liberation is possible, or would have been possible, without the work of ‘resistants,’“ Duceppe said.

Here, for the sake of argument, is Wikipedia’s entry for the French resistance.


The trouble with historical analogies

  1. Mr. Duceppe has lost his mind.

    • No he hasn't.
      The BLOC has never pretended to be in Parliament for anything other than as a way to reach their goal of a soveriegn Quebec.

      The only pretending going on is from the other Parliamentarians, that BLOC MPs had a right to be sitting in a federal institution advancing the break up of our country.

      • And how, pray tell dear wilson, would you propose to stop sovereigntists from running for federal office?

        • Well if Parliament is supreme, why doesn't Parliament table a motion regarding separatists, say something to the effect of holding BLOC MPs in contempt for refusing to ……. think of something !
          Lessen their powers, you have no problem doing it to the Queen's First Minister, take on the separatists.
          Do something useful.

          • Parliament is supreme to the Government of Canada, no the people of Canada.

            Using the power of the state to silence legitimate dissent is an arena I hope Canada never enters again.

    • He muffed his response, badly, yes. Unfortunately, he bought into the talking point of the Harper's, and missed the chance to point out Ghandi's resistance.

  2. "And what if you track down these men and give them pensions, what if you gave pensions to all of us? From every corner of Quebec, dozens, scores would rise up to join us at the trough. Even Canadians can't give people pensions that fast."

  3. Resistance is futile.

  4. Does that make the Bloc the equivalent of Vichy collaborators then?

    • I guess that would make most Quebecers 'collabos'. 'Vendus' is already a classic in the souverainiste language.

      • How about the majority of Quebecers who have voted 'no' in two referendums now?

        Self-hating Quebecers I suppose.

        • In Duceppe's world, they would be 'collaborators'

  5. Ya know, every time I try to defend the BQ's place in the house of commons, and their contributions to genuine house business, Gilles Duceppe spews something like this. Facepalm.

    • Same here.

  6. Perhaps he meant resistance in a broader sense than Vichy France. I know it is hard to believe, but Vichy France isn't the only form of resistance in the world and resistance doesn't only apply to conquering armies.

    People are still resisting totalitarianism, Miley Cyrus, Microsoft, Comedy Central and the mass production of American culture. Ghandi resisted… and had nothing to do with Vichy France.

    I don't know the full context of his speech (I don't follow along as the Bloc is stale rhetoric) but I would have taken his comments as meaning the continued non-violent resistance that French-Quebec culture has presented to combat what they perceive as being the onslaught of English culture that permeates Quebec's borders. They are a 7-million minority culturally resisting the North Aerican 330-million majority.

    This has nothing to do with Nazi's but plenty to do with sensitive Anglos.

    • I have to respectfully disagree. Context is everything, as they say, and he's placing the sovereignty movement directly into the context of WWII. My father-in-law (RIP Eric) was a member of the Dutch Resistance, couriering messages from one cell to another, and for Mr. Duceppe to make this comparison is, to me, an insult.

      Shame, really, coming from someone who sometimes make very good sense. Recall the election debates. While other party leaders were beating their chests about boosting the military budget or accusing others of not supporting the troops, he just observed that we should finally figure out what we want the military to do, and fund accordingly. That was impressive. This latest observation, not so much.

      • From reading –

        “For now, we're members of a resistance movement,” Duceppe told the crowd. “But members of today's resistance movement are tomorrow's victors. Long live a sovereign Quebec!” (from The Star story linked above)

        I didn't draw the conclusion that he was referring to Europe's (or even in particular, France's) resistance of the Nazi's. He was speaking in the context of his party's 20th anniversary in opposing Quebec's participation in the Confederation. The Bloc opposes, and actively resists, Quebec's place in that confederation.

        • Unfortunately, Nich, he made the comparison to the WW2 resistance in his responses to the press. A badly fumbled press play, no doubt brought on because that's immediately where Cannon went, instead of the more peaceful resistance that you point out.

          Had he been more on the ball, he could have turned the Nazi analogy back in Cannon's face, "Quebec's resistance will be as peaceful, and as triumphant, as that of Ghandi. It is telling, however, that Mr. Cannon feels the most apt comparison for his government is one of Nazism. Fortunately I do not share that vew."

          • A fumbled press question isn't enough to jump the chasm of 'a resistance movement' equates to Canada is like Germany in Nazi-occupied Europe.

            It's puzzling that a vague hyperbolic statement would be responded to by larger, more focused hyperbolic statements and it is the larger hyperbole that people run with.

            With such an assault on reason and balance, I sympathize more and more with the resistance!

  7. Gilles is just trying to rev up his troops for battle. In modern day Canada, that means an election.

    • Because Quebec is at war with the ROC!

  8. Looks like the épuration sauvage is about to begin. The résistancialistes have already denounced Bouchard as a probable collaborator.

  9. Why so harsh on poor Duecy?
    He and his party were elected Canadians back in Dec 2008,
    worhty of being a coalition partner!
    We have pictures of the trio handshake.

    Oh, and the Liberals want BLOC MPs to see secret war time documents too, Parliament being supreme and all.

    • We're being harsh on "Duecy" because he's taking a position that undermines the legitimacy of the party's entire platform, and does nothing but appeal to a shrinking base of pequistes. Not to mention, it's inconsistent with the Bloc's federalist drift over the course of the past five years.

      Our harshness is actually pretty consistent with that which we give other parties when they flip-flop on a position, from what's been written here so far.

      • Lynn, they are separatists.
        They have always been separatists, and expecting anything else from them was delusional.

        They used Parliament to enrichen a soveriegn Quebec,
        and they have never pretended otherwise.

        • What has been interesting ever since the coalition idea surfaced in 2008 is how many Lib-NDP supporters have seen a perceived federalist drift on the part of the Bloc. Maybe Duceppe's comments will help bring them back to reality. At least, one would hope so.

          The problem for the Lib-NDP coalition is that without Bloc support, it has fewer seats than the CPC and will likely remain so even after the next election. So a "federalist" Bloc is important to them if they wish to attain power.

          • "is how many Lib-NDP supporters have seen a perceived federalist drift on the part of the Bloc"

            Not being snarky here: on what do you base that assertion?

    • So is this the message Duecy is taking to the ROC on his planned tour?
      It may be the first time Duceppe will have to face protestors,
      surely if Canadians can rally around 'prorogation',
      they will stand up to being called Nazi's…no?

      • like yah.

        • And it seems that my copycat troll has once again risen from the ashes…….

  10. Even if one just sticks to the concept of a resistance against an occupying force with a complicit puppet regime and ignores the abhorent nature of Nazi occupation of France, his analogy is extremely problematic. The French Resistance used illegal (by the definition of the government of the day) means to subvert that government and prepare the path for another invasion. After all, France was not liberated by a referendum.

    Previously, the Bloc has worked within the Canadian federal system in a fairly transparent approach towards a democratically determined separation from Canada. With his new analogy, Duceppe should be asked some questions.

    1) Does the Bloc support breaking Canadian laws if breaking those laws are seen to advance their goals?
    2) Does the Bloc support violence against the occupying force (ROC) and their collaborators within Quebec to advance their goals?
    3) Is the Bloc hopeful for a foreign miltary invasion to create an independent Quebec?
    4) Does he really support the emergence of a revived Front de libération du Québec ?
    5) As Gauilon above notes: is he unaware that he is currently closer to Pétain than de Gaulle in any analogy?

  11. Duceppe is an ingrate. Resist Nazi's, okay, but it was those damn people with Engish ancestry that saved them from the Nazi's. The US saved France and Canada saved Holland.

    Peter Stoffier's devotion to Canada and it's military is because of how Canadians helped Holland – that's maturity and gratefullness.

    • Now if only someone could save Canada from going along with imperial military (mis)adventures" and we'd have these questions pretty much settled for good.

    • Duceppe may have to reconsider his party's demand to see Afghan documents. Surely any party that wants to see war related documents, even if it promises to keep them secret, cannot at the same time accuse the governemnt in power of being Nazi occupiers. I believe Duceppe has suddenly and unwittingly lost a lot of support among left-wing sympathizers in ROC who had slowly been warming up to him. This is a major political blunder in his effort to soften hostile reactions in ROC to the potential for Bloc presence in a coaltion government.

      • I'd go even further and say that Ducey's move has hurt the prospects of a Liberal-NDP coalition.

      • Where did Duceppe liken the government to being Nazi occupiers?

        You aren't allowed to quote Cannon.

  12. Give him a break. We've got a government that tells Parliament "it's attacking the troops" every day because it wants to see some documents about a war we happen to be fighting.

    In that world, I'm prepared to cut Duceppe a little slack if he wants to put on a beret and dry-fire a STEN in the mirror to get his jollies for the week.

  13. No. You can see the the current government as legitimate and still want something more.

    The two are not mutually exclusive.

    • Yes, presumably all opposition parties would like to replace the current government. I have no problem with that.

      However, using the analogy of the French resistance movement in WWII raises other issues, including the use of illegitimate means to dislodge an illegitimate government from power. This was the analogy that Duceppe used.

      • Actually, it was the analogy that Cannon used. Duceppe denied it.

  14. I see it in comments on blogs. For example, see LynnTO's comment above.

    • They've also dropped a lot of the separatist rhetoric from their day-to-day communications and talking points in order to appeal to a broader base, including federalists.

      Yes, the platform is separatist, the ultimate goal may still be secession from Canada. In the short- and medium-term, however, they've been doing more for federalism than regionalism, in the sense that many of their HOC questions concern rights and responsibilities of the federal versus provincial governments.

  15. Let us be clear and let's get history straight.
    l. The French resistance had little military impact. Bravery yes, impact no. Only in Yugoslavia did resistance vs Nazis have military effect. Historians of the period, and soldiers of the war era, are and were pretty much unanimous on this.
    1A. The heart of the French resistance was the Communist Party which responded primarily to the direction of the USSR. That may not bother Duceppe, a former Marxist, but it bothers me. It bothered Gen de Gaulle too.
    2. French Canadians contributed relatively much less to WW2 than other Canadians. At most, 150K served, counting conscripts, out of 1.1 million Cdns in uniform. All honour to those who did serve, but facts are facts. And Duceppe's comparison is even more appalling in light of this.
    3. More generally, it is hugely offensive for Duceppe to make the comparison he did. It offends democrats, anti-communists, veterans, federalists, and ought to offend every sensible Quebecois and Canadian.

    • "French Canadians contributed relatively much less to WW2 than other Canadians. At most, 150K served, counting conscripts, out of 1.1 million Cdns in uniform. All honour to those who did serve, but facts are facts."

      Why do you think that is? I'd say it was a reaction to getting dragged into pointless imperial military misadventures, which, so close after WWI,, WW2 appeared to a lot of people at the outset. The Americans, most notably, who didn't bother to join until two years after it started.

      • WW2 as a pointless imperial adventure? A war vs Hitler and the Nazis? Against Tojo and Japan's militarists? Only someone totally bereft of sense could think that.
        But even if you're right, why would Duceppe hail those who resisted in France? The defeat in 1940, after all, was only a pointless imperial adventure.
        And what changed later in the war? And did that alter QC enlistment rates? Not one whit.

  16. I will definitely not be shy to call Duceppe a separatist from now on ! They hate the word, which in French, as in English, defines someone who seeks the withdrawal of a region or province from a larger state.

    Duceppe et Marois sont des séparatistes!

    • Thank you. Prime Minister Harper was criticised for using the word separatist, but, as you point out, it is an accurate description. Duceppe has left no doubt that he wants to see Quebec and Canada as separate entities.

  17. you'd think you would have learned by now.

  18. Replying to yourself doesn't make your post less asinine

    • Wilson makes a valid point. Duceppe was willing to join a coalition in 2008, but now sees himself as a resistance fighter.

      At the very least, he is inconsistent.

      If the Bloc wants to play in the sand box it must accept the fact that the sand box is legitimate.

      • Actually, it's quite consistent. Both moves were to resist this current government.

        • In other words, you are saying that his position is that a legitimately elected government in Canada is illegitimate and therefore it is legitimate to oppose it using illegitimate means..

          • I'll thank you for not putting words in my mouth.
            Nobody's said the government is illegitimate.
            Nobody's said he's going to use illegitimate means.

            Kindly stop trying to build that straw man on me.

          • I'm not trying to put words in your mouth. With due respect, it's not your view that is at issue here. It is Duceppe's view. I'm just trying to understand what Duceppe was saying.

  19. She'd put them in camps.

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