Yves Michaud's letter to the Canadian Jewish Congress
To whom it may concern,
1 - Would you have the kindness to forward me your address so that I may send you a copy of my book and the remarks which I made before the Commission of the Estates General of the French language? That way, you will be in a better position to voice your opinion with intelligence and good faith on the true nature of my remarks, including my admiring and unconditional praise on the Jewish people which invited the French Canadian people to follow the Jews's "rough will to survive, their invincible spirit of solidarity and their moral armour adding that in a way the Christians and the Jews were spiritually Semites."
2 - I am, along with twelve Quebecers, or Canadians if you prefer, a founding member of the Human Rights League, in 1962, in company of Pierre-Elliott Trudeau, and Jacques Hébert, former Liberal senator. I was last year president of the Léo Cormier Foundation for the defence of rights and freedoms. I am the godfather of a Jewish boy, my wife is godmother of a Jewish girl, I lived for 37 years in a Jewish district of Montreal in perfect harmony, friendship and conviviality with my neighbours for whom I feel the highest regard. Few old-stock Quebec families can claim such a resume. By searching a little, one could surely find a better profile for anti-semitism!!! I know that you did not pronounce the word of "antisémite" when referring to me, but the text of your correspondence with professor Hilton of Concordia University suggests that I have or I could have had a background of this nature.
3 - Your knowledge of the Quebec public life seems to be imperfect. The B'Nai Brith regional office of Quebec, headed by Mr. Robert Libman, suggested that the Lionel-Groulx Metro station in Montreal be unbaptized and this the name of it should by that of a former Prime Minister of Israel. Groulx was the headlight and the intellectual guide of two generations of French Canadians, who have become Quebecers. This proposal was and still is perceived as a supreme insult and a blow to the memory of a venerated person in the history of Quebec. To dare such thing, in my eyes and those of a number of my compatriots, is an extremism getting close to anti-Quebec racism. I do not know, unless I am wrong, that your organization has denounced this insult to our memory.
The very same day that my intention to be candidate for nomination in the Mercier riding became public, the same B'Nai Brith regional office of Quebec directed by Robert Libman called me a "dinosaur" and invited the Prime Minister for Quebec to invalidate my candidature in virtue of is position of president of the Parti québécois. As if the B'Nai Brith had assumed the power to designate the candidates for nomination in a political party when its director is a ferocious and keen adversary of the said party. You'll admit that, in terms of having the nerve to, it would be difficult to do better! Mr. Libman, moreover, is a "partitionist" Zealot ,i.e. the cutting-up of the Quebec territory if the majority of its people voted "yes" to sovereignty in a forthcoming referendum. Wrongly or rightly so, this stance is interpreted by several Quebecers as a call to confrontation which could take the form of a kind of civil war, although the débonnaire pacifism of Quebecers is hardly inclined to this kind of activity. It even happens sometimes the this people pushes the tolerance as far as to ask forgiveness to those who insult this same people!
4 - For more than two centuries, the generosity of the Quebec people (an "ethnic group", - if the word is not sacrilege - who not only founded Quebec but also Canada) has had no limit with regard to all citizens who live on its territory, without regard with their confession, colour and origins. That being said, it has indeed happened in the past, on its territory and in that of Canada, that certain forms of ostracism were applied against the nationals of Jewish confession, in particular the refusal to admit them in universities and select clubs, but that was the fact of the English-Canadian "ethnic group". I imagine that your files are in this respect an inexhaustible source of consultation and information.
To conclude, there never was and there never will be in Quebec a "Jewish Question", except coming from politicians who have bad intentions, who use the extremely comprehensible sensitivity of your people, for suspicious and unfair ends. You would oblige me by taking note of what preceded and in ensuring the communication of it to your co-religionists, with the expression of my distinguished feelings.
Montréal, February 1st, 2001