BPW's Address to Alliance Quebec
19 February 2005
Ladies and Gentlemen I want to sincerely thank Rev. Gray for asking me to speak here tonight. This is an issue close to my heart. Five years ago I helped this organization unblock some $300,000 in federal funding when it faced the same kind of bureaucratic indifference.
But more importantly I want to thank all of you. For you are to be commended for turning out tonight. Not because it’s a cold and blustery Montreal evening. Not because you are sitting through another political chicken dinner. But because the message you are sending by your presence here tonight is that you dare to care.
You dare to care not just about English rights. You dare to care about community. Look around you here. What you see is a real rainbow coalition. What you see is a real Alliance of all Quebecers. Of all languages, of all races, of all creeds.
You need to dare to care because here at this place, in this city, in this year of 2005 we need to look back for a future. Because in 2005 we cannot be satisfied. We cannot be satisfied with politicians who dole out cheques in order to profit from pandering to all of narrow particularities yet are deathly afraid of supporting and celebrating the common cause of our universalities. We cannot be satisfied with a political class that believes there is more to gain from division and discord than from compassion and co-operation. We cannot be satisfied with leaders who think they can take you for granted for that is why they toy with you.
Today in 2005 we think back to other times. Nous souviens 1835 quand Louis-Joseph Papineau aida à mener le combat qui permis l’émancipation totale des minorites huit ans avant l’Angleterre. Nous souviens la tolerance et la pluralisme dans une jurisdiction politique qui avait un patrimoine progressiste sans pareil en Amerique de Nord.
And we think back to 1865 when Thomas D’Arcy McGee had a vision of glory for this country. He said that “In this Northern Dominion there is room—under one flag and one set of laws---for one great nation. But that greatness cannot be realized—under that same flag and those same laws—if we surrender in abject submission to a thousand squabbling interests.”
And that’s what Alliance Quebec must be about in the final analysis. It must be about equity and just consideration for all Quebecers who celebrate freedom. It must be a meeting place for all of conscience and character who want to build that glorious city on the hill together. And we can do that.
But you know my friends, it’s not going to happen just by complaining about government handouts. We need to take personal responsibility as Rev. Gray said. We need to go back to the grass roots. If we can spend $100 on hockey tickets, then we can spend the same amount for our own political self-respect. It’s too bad that money matters, but that’s the reality. We didn’t set the rules, but we can win by them. Because though they may have the big money, we have the people. And imagine if just 3,000 pledged this $100, the state would have no suasion and that is what it’s all about.
It’s about taking back control of our lives. If we fail, then we will fall victim to the warning that the father of Italian independence, Giuseppe Mazzini, issued some 150 years ago, “Si voi non fatte, altre farrano; e contro voi e senza voi.” If you don’t act then others will; and without you and against you.
If this Alliance is to have any meaning, and any future. it must be more than an Alliance of shriveled spirits and hostile hearts seeking to restore a comfortable past that, in fact, never existed. It must be an Alliance that looks forward. An “Allianza para el progresso” as President John F. Kennedy dreamed of. An alliance that demands “hasta la victoria siempre” may the victory come quickly. And that victory is the triumph of unity and community. For only in that spirit can we, as Canadians, ever vindicate the possibilities of our own capacities.
Some Press Coverage Excerpts of the Speech
February 23, 2005
AQ STARTS EMERGENCY FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN
Martin C. Barry
With almost nowhere left to go but up, Alliance Quebec is calling upon its supporters and the rest of Montreal’s English-speaking community to come to the rescue. Speaking at an emergency AQ fundraiser at Trinity Memorial Church in NDG last Saturday evening, AQ president Darryl Gray referred to the budget Heritage Canada now allots the group annually, compared to the $1.2 million received at one time, as “… almost impossible for us to work with…”.
Beryl Wajsman. president of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal, one of the evening’s speakers, said that supporting AQ was about people taking back control of their lives. “if we fail, then we will fall victim to the warning that the father of Italian independence, Giuseppe Mazzini, issued some 150 years ago,” he said. “If you don’t act then others will; and without you and against you.”
“If this Alliance is to have any meaning, and any future, it must be more than an alliance of shriveled spirits and hostile hearts seeking to restore a comfortable past that, in fact, never existed,” he added, “It must be an alliance that looks forward.”
February 23 , 2005
Is Quebec's English community concerned enough about language rights to fund the organization founded to protect them? Alliance Quebec's future depends on the answer.
Speaking at last Saturday's AQ fundraiser at a West-End church hall, Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal president Beryl Wajsman had this observation on AQ's survival without federal cash:
"...Alliance Quebec must be about...equity and just consideration for all Quebecers who celebrate freedom...But it's not going to happen just by complaining about government handouts. If we can spend $100 on hockey tickets, then we can spend the same amount for our own political self-respect. It's too bad that money matters, but that's the reality. We didn't set the rules, but we can win by them. Because though they may have the big money, we have the people. And imagine if just 3,000 pledged this $100, the state would have no suasion and that is what it's all about."
We agree. The time has come for AQ to throw off its federal funding leash, to live or die on its own. But here's our observation: If AQ dies for lack of Anglo interest, English-speaking Quebec can hardly complain about its rights being violated.