Stéphane Dion: Against the Current.


280 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-670-06744-2
DDC 971.07'3092





Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a history professor at Laurentian University and
author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable Kingdom.


Linda Diebel, an award-winning journalist from the Toronto Star, reviews the way Stéphane Dion overcame the odds and became leader of the Liberal Party.


Diebel makes a strong case that Stéphane’s father, Léon, also had to overcome the odds. Université Laval, where he taught, antagonized Premier Maurice Duplessis, who then reduced its grants. Léon nevertheless found a way to study in Europe and complete his Ph.D., but he could find no publisher as his thesis was not sufficiently ideological for the Roman Catholic Church. Léon was a proud Canadian in 1976 when the Parti Québécois first formed a government, although for strategic reasons he voted “Yes” in the referendum of 1980. Another powerful influence has been Stéphane’s wife, Janine Krieber.


Like many French Canadians, Stéphane studied for his Ph.D. in France, but unlike many Canadian students in Paris, he studied France, not Canada. At the Université de Montréal, he was out of step with his peers and with student opinion in his opposition to Quebec independence and his conviction that Canada was already one of the world’s most decentralized countries. His father, Léon, advised that he should pursue a promising academic career rather than risk the slippery pole of politics. Stéphane was appalled that Jacques Parizeau and other separatists could persuade Quebeckers that after independence they could count on using the Canadian dollar and the Canadian passport, even on membership in NAFTA—points on which non-Quebeckers would have to agree. He paid a price. When he introduced the Clarity Act, Stéphane was so unpopular that he required an RCMP bodyguard. His statements that it was illogical to assume Canadian territory divisible but Quebec’s sacrosanct did not win him friends in his own province. Yet, the Clarity Act hastened Lucien Bouchard’s retirement as Quebec premier.


There could have been more attention to detail. The German occupation of Paris lasted four years, not five as reported on page 13. Premier Parizeau announced his resignation the very day after the 1995 referendum, not “the next year” as implied on page 89.


Diebel, Linda., “Stéphane Dion: Against the Current.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024,