Saturday, March 03, 2007

Chantal Hébert, Lament for Meech

I'm more than three-quarters of the way through Chantal Hébert's new book, French Kiss: Stephen Harper's Blind Date with Quebec. Within the next few days, I'll have a full review up. But in the interim, let me state how disappointed I am in this book. I usually rely on Hébert for a clear-eyed analysis of Canadian politics, and she rarely disappoints. I was hoping for more of that in this book, and in particular for some good analysis of the rise of the Conservative party in Quebec in the last election (and perhaps some tidbits on the ADQ and social conservatism).

It's not there. Instead, we have Hébert's answer to George Grant's 1965 opus Lament for a Nation. Only in this case, it's Lament for Meech Lake, a warmed-over rehashing of all the Quebec nationalists' myths about how wonderful the country would be if the Meech Lake Accord had only passed, complete with crystal ball predictions of how we'd now have an elected Senate and vibrant new social programs. There is no acknowledgement of the deep flaws in that Accord, and the political context which led to it becoming deeply unpopular throughout Canada in 1990.

I expect clearer thought from Hébert, and a more rigorous analysis. Her book delivers neither.

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