MONTREAL – Nicolas Sarkozy’s comments promoting Canadian unity over “sectarianism” and “self-confinement” have infuriated Quebec sovereigntist leaders who have fired off a tersely worded letter to the French president.
While neither Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe nor Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois is seeking an apology or even a response, they do hope their four-page missive is enlightening.
They also want the man who thinks of his country as Quebec’s brother know he’s in the dog house with a good chunk of his so-called family.
“Never has a head of state shown such a lack of respect towards the more than two million Quebecers who consider themselves sovereigntists,” they wrote.
“Would France agree to stay in a European Union that imposed a treaty that unilaterally reduces their sovereignty on questions of identity without even putting it to a referendum?”
The letter, which was sent Wednesday, goes on to highlight the Quebec independence movement’s role in promoting free trade and immigration as well as Quebec’s involvement in la Francophonie and the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas.
The sovereignty leaders also defended their position on the rest of Canada .
“We don’t know where you got the idea that we detest Canada,” they wrote. “Despite our important differences, we respect this country, their values and their population.
“We think an independent Quebec will put to rest the bitterness and the exhaustive debate that has marked our history here in Canada.”
The backlash comes days after Sarkozy expressed his distaste for “sectarianism” and “self-confinement,” although he didn’t actually name the Quebec situation, during a ceremony in Paris to honour Quebec Premier Jean Charest.
At a news conference Thursday, Marois said what was most hurtful was that Sarkozy’s comments were simply not true.
“We are not sectarian, we are not closed in on ourselves, we do not detest Canada,” she said. “We want to live in better harmony, and sovereignty would allow us to establish links and a better relationship with the rest of Canada.”