Volume 91, Issue 15

Tuesday, September 23, 1997

dirty pool


French cries

One part politics plus one part patriotism plus multiple parts conflicting opinion make a recipe for the Canadian emotional equivalent of nitroglycerine.

By now most Western students have heard through some branch of the campus grapevine that a controversial figure is about to descend on The University Community Centre tomorrow evening. Regardless of political affiliation or provincial loyalties, the very mention of Jacques Parizeau is sure to strike deep and resonant chords within any Canadian. His politics command an immediate reaction – one is either wholly consumed by them or viscerally offended. He is so entwined in the spectre of Quebec separatism that one can almost neglect the fact that he has effectively been inched out of the Parti Quebecois political machine. After the '95 referendum, Parizeau became a liability to his party; he was, to use a euphemism – an overly-opinionated separatist.

Separatism is ironically the furthest issue of contention surrounding Parizeau's visit to the fair hills of Western. Mainly, this visit stirs the proverbial hornets nest of free speech. Is there an ethical question to inviting Parizeau to preach separatism to anyone who is willing to fork over six bucks? A guy's gotta sell a book after all, and if students are willing to pay the man to hear what he has to say, what's the problem?

Plans have been unveiled by the Young Conservatives, Liberals and Reformers to stage an 'I am Canadian' rally in support of the federal cause that is to run, not by coincidence, simultaneously with the Parizeau talk, which could lead to a clash of words (French or English).

The protesters, however, just like Parizeau, are equally deserving of their place under the sun on the Concrete Beach. Free speech is a moot issue. Everyone gets it! Their freedom to speak out is as libre as the speaker's. It's the Canadian way!

Parizeau is entitled to voice his opinion. So what if his popularity has been trampled, both at home and away from La Belle Province. This country was created on the foundation of certain uncompromising principles, of which freedom of speech is one. Once we start telling people they can't hold certain beliefs or express certain opinions, do we become that far-removed from the politics of regimes like Stalin's Soviet Russia? By that same right, Parizeau's protesters are guaranteed to do their thing.

So talk. Everyone talk about the good and the bad that having a separatist speaker at Western until the UCC is filled with such a great cloud of hot air vapour that the sprinklers come on and the air conditioners shift into overdrive.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997