France in Canada‘s past — and its own future in the 21st century ..

Jan 10th, 2015 | By | Category: In Brief

The French flag flies at Toronto City Hall on Jan. 8, 2015, a day after 12 people were killed in an attack at Paris's satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. TWITTER/@norm.

We are glad to hear that the French flag has been “flying outside Toronto’s city hall … in solidarity with the people of France.” And we were pleased to read about how “Toronto’s French community gathers for Charlie Hebdo vigil … Facebook group summons demonstrators to consulate Wednesday to declare ‘Je suis Charlie’ after massacre in Paris.”

We also note quickly that there will be an “Official rally in solidarity after the terror attacks in France / Rassemblement de solidarité après les attaques terroristes en France” on Sunday, January 11, 2:00pm, at Nathan Phillips Square in beautiful downtown Toronto, in front of the city hall at Queen and Bay streets.

Cartoon by Cheb Makhlouf of Al Masry Al Youm in Egypt. The Arabic caption reads “solidarity with Charlie Hebdo.”

And, for those who might be more interested digitally, we would further recommend : “Secretary Kerry Comments on the Attack in Paris” — a class act, in French! ; and “9 moving tributes to Charlie Hebdo from Arabic-language cartoonists,” collected by Zack Beauchamp.

For now the most immediate problem seems to have been resolved. (On a cold enough Friday afternoon here, north of the North American Great Lakes — but well into the evening in France : 3 PM in Toronto is 9:00 PM in Paris.) As we write, an armed and dangerous lady called Hayat Boumeddiene is still running loose. But her capacity for further damage at least seems limited. (UPDATE JAN 11 : Especially if, as some most recent reports suggest, she has been in Syria since January 2.)

As put quite succinctly by the Globe and Mail : “Hostage situations in France end with 3 suspects killed.” Or, in the more exact and necessarily longer formulation of the New York Times : “French Police Storm Hostage Sites, Killing Gunmen …  Charlie Hebdo Suspects Dead in Raid; Hostage Taker in Paris Is Also Killed.”

The later Associated Press summary document, “Three days of terror: A timeline of the Paris attacks” — posted among other places on the CTV website —  seems useful as well.

In any case we feel enough has happened by this point to also allow us the luxury of wondering why we of the anglophone majority in Canada today do not feel more deeply attached to the great French Republic (even in its current Fifth incarnation, once said on university political science exams in our collective memories to have been “tailor made for Charles de Gaulle”).

Storming of the Bastille prison — opening event of the French Revolution, July 14, 1789, coloured engraving. Hulton Archive/Getty Images. France had left Canada by this point, of course, but what if ... ????

France is Canada’s original Old World mother country. Much of its awesome furniture is still around, and not just in Quebec. Even English-speaking Canadians ought to take some special interest in France and its future in the world today.

Our own designs in this context may appear opportunistic. (“But then again, all politics is opportunistic. The opportunists make the rules.”) They at least relate to France in Canadian history. And in any case, to show our commitment to freedom of speech everywhere, we are posting another installment of Randall White’s Children of the Global Village book project — on our Long Journey to a Canadian Republic page.

So … if you go to the page, on the bar at the top above, you will find a brief account of the project, along with the “Prologue : too much geography” — followed by links to Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of PART I : THE DEEP CANADIAN PAST, 1497–1763.

You will now find as well a link to Chapter 3 of PART I : “France in America and the first people who called themselves Canadians.” This includes such subjects as Cod fisheries, Acadia, Champlain and Quebec City, Seigneurial system, Canadian absolutism, Voyageurs, Francis Parkman’s domain of savage freedom, and Governor General of Canada or New France.

None of this has much to do with France’s future in the 21st century. But that is a matter for people who live in France.

What Canadians can do is at least try to learn a little more about the deep importance of France in their own past.

Maybe Part I, Chapter 3 of Children of the Global Village can help a little, for someone, somehow, sometime, and/or someplace. Who really knows about anything these days?

(Except of course that freedom and democracy really are everything that finally counts! As the New Hampshire licence plates have advised for many years : “Live Free or Die.”)

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