The Gaullist Attack on Canada, 1967-1997

Description

331 pages
Contains Maps, Bibliography, Index
$32.95
ISBN 0-7735-1808-8
DDC 971.4'04

Author

Year

1999

Contributor

Reviewed by Terry A. Crowley

Terry A. Crowley is a professor of history at the University of Guelph,
and the former editor of the journal Ontario History. He is the author
of Agnes Macphail and the Politics of Equality and Canadian History to
1967, and the co-author of The College on

Review

English Canadians have long been ambivalent in their feelings toward
France. While Americans saw France as a centre for cosmopolitan culture
and refinement, English Canadians more readily accepted traditional
British hostility to a country that remained its enemy until the
outbreak of World War I. France was often perceived as a sinister force
that had been successfully routed to the benefit of all—including
French Canadians—when Quebec fell to British arms in 1760.

Some of this traditional hostility toward France emerges in what John
Bosher calls the Gaullist assault on Canada. A distinguished historian
who is now retired, Bosher has allowed his fervent federalism to intrude
excessively into this account of Franco–Canadian relations during the
last half of the 20th century. The result of its tripartite
focus—Charles de Gaulle and his followers, Canadian responses to
French and French/Québécois initiatives, and France’s imperial
dreams on a more global scale—is a curious amalgam that attempts to
indict French governments for retrograde policies in Canada and
elsewhere.

Although the first section of the book clearly identifies a small group
of Gaullists who were active in promoting Quebec’s independence,
Bosher fails to present evidence sufficient to support the alarm he so
desperately wants to sound. After Charles de Gaulle’s “Vive Le
Québec Libre” speech at Montreal’s City Hall in 1967, few would
doubt that some in France were intent on seeing the Canadian state
reconstituted, but when Bosher surveys a vast array of associations
between France and Canada/Quebec, he is scarcely able to provide
anything more revealing than financial support for the failing Acadian
newspaper L’Йvangéline.

Bosher’s account has been conditioned by the revelation that former
Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau had come close to issuing a unilateral
declaration of independence during the 1995 Quebec referendum in the
hope that France would be the first to support the claim. Subsequently,
his book loses its way in composition and emphasis. That we do not know
what France might have done, or will do, in such a situation can hardly
justify the use of such words as “assault,” “aggression,”
“collaboration,” “mafia,” and “almost a rogue state” in
regard to France. However thorough the research underpinning Bosher’s
book, as history it is an embarrassment.

Citation

Bosher, J.F., “The Gaullist Attack on Canada, 1967-1997,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/802.