From: A Older Canadian Reader [Email him]
Canadian Conservative politician John Crosbie died recently. He’s being remembered as “lively, brave, smart, funny and lovely” by people who knew him. People old enough to remember his career in the 80's remember that he couldn't become PM because he couldn't learn French at the age of 50.
Two representative quotes from him at the time:
Of course, this was like refusing to nominate a Republican who couldn't speak Spanish.
I remember a Peter Brimelow anecdote that suggests that John Crosbie’s courage may have failed him at a really vital moment.
In 1988 I attended a talk by Peter Brimelow where he signed copies of his (then) new book, The Patriot Game.
During the talk Brimelow told a personal anecdote about a Progressive Conservative leadership contender who told him at a function that the PCs could never win unless Quebec separated.
Brimelow: “So why don’t you say so?”
Leadership contender: “But the CBC and Maclean's Magazine would crucify me!”
Brimelow: “So, he remained silent, and the CBC and Maclean's crucified him anyway ....
Then Brimelow went on to say:
"That exchange took place at a party at my wife’s parents’ place...and my wife is from Newfoundland."
Of course, he could only be referring to John Crosbie.
Imagine if John Crosbie had responded to the question about his knowledge of French by saying something like:
“Quebec should really be a separate country… we should certainly not put any obstacles in their path, indeed we should facilitate their departure.”
Such an exchange could have been the equivalent of the Donald’s escalator speech which changed the dynamics of the US Presidential race. All sorts of interesting stuff could have come open for discussion.
Maybe, though, the “lack of courage” stuff is harsh. Maybe Crosbie just ... er ... didn’t think of it at the time. When you’re on the defensive you often forget vital stuff. That explanation for events may be more common than we like to admit.
And with hindsight, since the fall of the Berlin Wall it’s clear that independence for countries far smaller than Quebec CAN work—the Baltics, Slovakia, Slovenia, et cetera.
And look at the way the Czechs and Slovaks cooperate. A model for Canada/Quebec....