Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Review: French Kiss, Stephen Harper's Blind Date With Quebec

I've rather enjoyed Chantal Hebert's columns in the Toronto Star over the years, but I have to confess to becoming increasing frustrated with her over the course of the Liberal leadership campaign and since because of her seeming hate-on for a Stephane Dion. I was concerned that would make this a difficult read, but luckily Dion is spared the knife in her new book French Kiss: Stephen Harper's Blind Date With Quebec.

The title actually seems to be a bit misleading, as only a portion of the book actually deals with Quebec issues, and a smaller portion still tackles the nascent Conservative breakthrough and attempts since to expand the CPC presence in the province. A great deal of the book is also a wider political discourse where Hebert discusses issues from reforming parliament to uniting the Left.

It's the Quebec stuff that is interesting though, and I can't say I always agreed with her. We're miles apart on the fiscal imbalance, for instance. Still, hearing the Quebec perspective on this and a variety of other issues is interesting, and educational. Even though I've followed national politics for a while, I think there's still a certain degree of English-Canadians are from Mars, French-Canadians are from Venus in Canada. So it's interesting to learn a bit more about where my Quebec friends are coming from, even if I still don't agree with them on all the issues.

All in all, an interesting read, Hebert offers some new insights and informative commentary. I can't help but feel she misses the mark somewhat though. Despite all the surrounding history presented it doesn't seem like her central thesis, Harper's blind date with Quebec, was adequately addressed. It seemed more like a collection of elongated columns than a tightly-woven narrative.

Still, worth reading for Westerners like myself looking to learn more about our Quebecois cousins and what makes them politically tick.

For other takes Olaf, Pample the Moose and Bound by Gravity also have reviews.

A review copy was provided by the publisher to facilitate this review.

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1 comment:

Mark said...

I read the bok a few weeks ago, and found it very insightful.

It would describe it as an "I tell you why" account, compared to Wells' "I told you so" account of the last election and its repercussions.

I was disappointed, however, with her inability to differentiate "English Canada" from itself, in the way she masterfully differentiates "Quebec" from the rest of the voting population.

Like almost all of our "national" reporters, she suffers from the same affliction of blinders to just about everythig outsid eof the Quebec/Windsor corridor. Having said that, her analysis of the "way ahead" in Quebec is very, very good.