When Quebec separatists complained about a proposed re-enactment of the battle of the Plains of Abraham, the organizers folded. When federalists complained about the FLQ terrorist manifesto being read at an event commemorating the 250th anniversary of the battle, the organizers stood their ground:
The T-shirt favoured by some dyed-in-the-wool separatists this weekend read, “They won the Battle of the Plains, but we will win the war.” And when it came to the war of words that erupted over the historic battle’s 250th anniversary, the sovereigntists won in a rout as lopsided as the one that saw Quebec City fall to the British.
The 24-hour marathon of historical readings — which became the main commemoration after a battle re-enactment was cancelled following threats — turned into the “sovereigntist show” that some critics had predicted. From former Parti Quebecois leader Bernard Landry intoning, “Long live freedom,” as he read a letter from a rebel facing execution in 1839 to the enthusiastic applause that greeted a reading of the FLQ manifesto, the federalists were chased from the Plains of Abraham.
…the controversy over the manifesto had no apparent sobering effect on the hundreds of spectators present when singer Luck Mervil took the stage to a loud ovation in the early hours of yesterday morning. Mr. Mervil delivered an impassioned reading of the manifesto, first broadcast in October 1970 as the FLQ held British trade commissioner James Cross hostage and two days before Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte would be kidnapped.
There was more applause as Mr. Mervil read a passage denouncing “the big bosses” who exploited Quebec’s “cheap labour.” Cheers followed other passages, including when the late Pierre Trudeau was called a pansy. The loudest applause came as Mr. Mervil ended with his fist raised: “Long live a free Quebec! Long live our imprisoned comrades. Long live the Quebec revolution! Long live the Front de Liberation du Quebec!” Chants of “We will win” could be heard.
One side is ashamed of its history, and bends over backwards to avoid giving offence. The other side just doesn’t give a damn. In the long run, who do you think has the advantage?