PSPP, “independence diplomat” on a mission

PSPP, “independence diplomat” on a mission

PSPP, “independence diplomat” on mission

Graham Hughes archives The Canadian Press Paul St-Pierre Plamondon attracted the interest of several media and met with many political figures.

During the marathon that took him in a week from London to Paris, via Edinburgh and Brussels, the leader of the Parti Québécois aroused the interest of several media and met many political figures. As part of this tour abroad, the first for a PQ leader since 2017, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon has set himself the task of rebuilding what he calls an “independence diplomacy”.

“We're starting the machine again,” he said, barely awake in front of his breakfast in a hotel in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, a stone's throw from the Gare du Nord. “We want to tell our friends what we are going to try to do in the coming years, should the Parti Québécois take power. »

I do independence diplomacy

— Paul St-Pierre Plamondon

The PQ leader is surprised by the in-depth knowledge of Quebec politics shown by his interlocutors during this first mission abroad. “They know that the PQ is not dead and that we had a good campaign. I tell them that the decline of French and of our culture makes independence a necessity to ensure the sustainability of our linguistic and cultural model. »

After a lecture at the University of Oxford, his alma mater, it was in Scotland that Paul St-Pierre Plamondon aroused the most interest. Three of the four main dailies in the country interviewed him at length to find out how the Parti Québécois had found a way to get rid of the oath to the king. And for good reason, Scottish independence MPs are still in the same situation as those of the PQ and QS before its repeal. At each election, they use the same stratagems, for example by displaying anti-monarchy messages during the official swearing-in ceremony.

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon arrived in Edinburgh in the midst of a political crisis, as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon resigned and her party, the Scottish National Party, was in turmoil. He nevertheless met former separatist Prime Minister Alex Salmond and had talks with members of the SNP, but no official meeting.

From meeting to meeting

Passing through Brussels, he attended a parliamentary committee on the Catalan language in the European Parliament. He was with Catalan leader and MEP Carles Puigdemont, in exile since 2017 after a declaration of independence immediately suspended, but deemed illegal by Madrid. “What is striking in Catalonia is the mobilization of the people. One also wonders how a man like Puigdemont, despite being threatened with prison, can remain so serene and persevering.

However, it is in France that the leader of the Parti Québécois has had the most meetings. And these are not over, since they will continue until Saturday.

For now, he has met with socialist senators Mickaël Vallet and Yan Chantrel, as well as the president of the socialist group in the National Assembly, Boris Vallaud, the first secretary of the party, Olivier Faure, and former president François Hollande. Meetings were also held with right-wing deputies (Les Républicains) Olivier Marleix and Pierre-Henri Dumont, as well as with Senator Bruno Retailleau. Others are also planned with elected representatives of the presidential majority.

Each time, he says, it is about the linguistic situation of Quebec and its cultural future. “People ask me a lot of questions and talk to me all the time about the opposition between Quebec universalism and Canadian communitarianism. Not only have we probably inherited the French mentality on these issues, but, in the case of Quebec, it is a condition for the survival of French. Without a universal approach, if each community competes with the others, French will become the language of one community among others. »

The meeting with François Hollande was particularly warm, he says. “She reminds us how strong there is a friendship between Quebec and France. Many in France think that Quebec has a destiny that is not yet fulfilled. »

Strengthening ties with France

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon believes that the cultural link with France has been weakened since the 1980s and 1990s. “It has been swept away by an Anglo-American cultural imperialism that Americanizes us. This is why we need France's active participation in the Quebec ecosystem.

The leader of the PQ is also delighted with the desire of the Minister of International Relations, Martine Biron, to strengthen ties with France. ” She's right. Good if she does. Me, I do independence diplomacy. I would remind you that Quebec diplomacy was above all the work of separatists. »

The quality of the exchanges he had with French political representatives did not prevent him from finding French politics very divided, particularly on the question of immigration. Moreover, the only parties that the PQ has not solicited are the National Rally and La France insoumise. “We understand that France is polarized, but we are much more centrist. »

We want to tell our friends what we will try to do in the coming years, should the Parti Québécois take power

— Paul St- Pierre Plamondon

Incidentally, the independence leader deplores the small number of Quebec students who come each year to study in France: “It's not normal. It shows a loosening of ties. This also testifies, he says, to the desire of certain French elites to blend into the Anglo-American axis. “If part of the French elite adopts a doctrine of submission to cultural imperialism, it should come as no surprise if France exercises less attraction. »

For Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, the Quebec and French nations are called upon to come together. He even believes that Quebec could help France better defend its language and culture. “We have a role to play in encouraging France to assume its difference and its greatness by not being content to participate in the Anglo-American universe. We want a France that rediscovers the desire to shine.

The mission of the leader of the Parti Québécois is not over that he is already thinking of repeating the experience next year. And maybe even every year.