Friday, September 09, 2005

Flight of the Stumble Bees

There is apparently a fascinating documentary that has just wrapped up on the French and English CBC in Quebec(which is for some reason a distinct society all to its own and thus not embroiled in the current nastiness of the rest of Canada English networks, but I digress), which has raised more than a few questions about just how close Canada came to being Quebec-less in the last referendum of 1995.

Now perhaps this little tempest in a cathode ray aired in English Canada (outside of Quebec), but as I've all but given up watching the CBC whilst the two sides gnash and wail at each other, I'm afraid I'm out of their programming loop. So if it aired, my apologies to the folks at the marketing dept., but if it did air and nobody knew about it I'll take back my apologies and suggest that cost saving measures take place in promotions.

At any rate the Documentary which was called Breaking Point, or Point de Rupture is all the talk in Quebec and suffers the silence of the Lambs in Canada where the CBC has a hard time keeping the Antiques roadshow on the air, let alone translating a controversial program from their French language counterparts. One of the key components of the documentary besides the glaring math that we were less than 40,000 votes away from two nations is the suggestion that the Feds had no back up plan whatsoever. Jean Chretiens' nephew, Raymond, who at the time was the ambassador to the USA from Canada, reminisced about a dinner with his Uncle where he asked for some talking points for the Clinton White House should the Sovereigntists win the day. As Raymond puts it, suddenly I realized that we had no plan B. Apparently realizing what he said and how it sounded to the cameras, he gave a slightly different interpretation for the French language version, which as you can guess ended up on the cutting room floor. The producers preferring to utilize his English version and the drama of a government terribly adrift and incapable of cobbling together a worse case scenario exit plan.

Things were apparently so bad that even a political coup was considered to relieve the beleaguered Chretien from his travails. English Canadian cabinet ministers were concerned that Chretien was incapable of not only winning the referendum but more importantly that there would be no one in place to represent the rest of Canada in the follow up negotiations. It would seem that only Mike Harris (God Help Us!) and Frank McKenna were contemplating how to approach the potential fissures approaching the nation.

But by far, one of the more interesting conspiracy theories floated in the series involves the state of the Canadian Armed Forces and how they would be utilized or tasked in the event of a positive vote for sovereignty. The producers strongly suggest that Federalist forces were so unsure of the outcome of the vote, that they voted with their wings in the days prior to voting day. Effectively removing every CF18 in the province, sending planes out of province from their Bagotville base. In a scenario that kind of reminds me of the early days of the first Gulf War back in 1990, Canadian pilots were according to the producers, apparently moving their planes to South Carolina and Virginia of all places, much like Saddam's ancient warriors headed for Kuwait (or those with poor navigational skills Iran). Of course the idea that Canada was bugging out was quickly quashed by military officials, who stated that in fact, the fighters in question from Bagotville went to the States as part of a pre-arranged military exercise called Hornet's nest. An interesting name for an exercise and indeed just what many of these stories from Breaking Point seem to be stirring as more and more reports come out.

In a province and a nation that seems super sensitive to anything to do with National unity or disunity, the documentary is just another little chapter in the ongoing war of attrition.

However, if there is a suggestion of truth to the idea of moving our assets out of Quebec when times get tough, perhaps the Federalist forces can be a bit more disingenuous next time, if God forbid there is a next time. I suggest that if there is yet another referendum for us to suffer under, we move Sea King helicopters and less than sea worthy Subs INTO Quebec, that should do more than enough to save the day for the Federation!

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