What’s in a name?  Plenty.  There must be great care in deciding what to name or rename.

What part of history to highlight.

What part of history to ignore.

The latest naming controversy shows that our mayor is tone deaf and perhaps has a view of history that doesn’t agree with many of her constituents.

A Very Bad Idea

La Mairesse has this bright idea of naming the new REM  train station in Griffintown after the late PQ premier Bernard Landry.

Yikes !

Now Landry was a smart guy. And to be fair, he did have his share of accomplishments.

But his record with minorities was not always shall we say “stellar”.

His ranting and raving against immigrants on referendum night in 1995 will always be part of his legacy.

As was his calling the Canadian flag a “red rag”.

Griffintown’s heritage is a story of immigrants and their struggles to forge a better life in Montreal.

It is the story of the Irish.  The builders of the Victoria Bridge and so much more.

There is a reason there is a shamrock on Montreal Coat of Arms.

No Respect for the Irish?

A well known Irish Montrealer wrote an excellent piece this week on the CBC website on Plante’s planned folly.

Donovan King wrote;

“This proposal has thoroughly rankled the Irish community and feels like a swift kick in the teeth. Why? Because the former Parti Québécois premier had absolutely no connection to the Griff — and he also had a dark history of berating immigrants…..We don’t want the neighborhood that our ancestors built from the ground up…. branded with that name.”

He is right.   

Plante should back down.  The station should honour the Irish. These things are important.

But this is Montreal and history is always shall we say “negotiable”?

Dropping Names

The body was still warm when council voted to rename Dorchester Boulevard to Boulevard  Rene Levesque.

The usual period of taking time to reflect was lost in the heat of the moment and grief.

The truth is that if not for Lord Dorchester, Governor of Quebec, French may not have survived. 

His backing of the Quebec Act of 1774 was key to preserving French and the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec.

At least Westmount had the courage and good sense keep the name Dorchester in its part of town.

Several years ago, City Hall had the idea of renaming Park Avenue after late Liberal premier  Robert Bourassa.   After a storm of controversy, the Bourassa family asked that the idea be withdrawn.

Plenty of Montreal streets have had their names erased by the whims of political leaders.

Do you remember Craig Street now Ste Antoine or Burnside swallowed up by de Maisonneuve.?

And then there are the naming embarrassments.

Lionel-Groulx Metro is named after a French anti-Semitic cleric.

Many would argue that a more fitting name might be Metro Oscar Peterson.   But maybe changing the Groulx name to honour  one of the world’s greatest musicians who actually brought people together would just a bridge too far.

So Madame Plante should tread carefully. Names are like cluster bombs.   And the damage can be widespread.

She clearly just doesn’t get it.

Happy Bedfellows

In Quebec City our separatist premier, is again musing about flexing his language muscle with an even tougher Bill 101.

In the recent federal election, the Bloc Quebecois got most of its support from CAQ voters. 

A breakdown of the numbers by 338.com finds that indeed the CAQ and the Bloc are connected at the hip.

I worry that the rocky waters minority life in Quebec are about to get a lot rougher.

Legault with his new found Bloquiste allies in Ottawa will wrap themselves in the Quebec flag and demand more and more.  More language powers, more autonomy.   Bill 21 was just the opening act.

Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said this after the new federal cabinet was announced.

“The apparent division in Canada is a natural state for an artificial country as Canada”

An artificial country?  

An artificial country that is the envy of most of the world Monsieur Blanchet.

At least our Prime Minister bolstered his new cabinet with Quebecers.   A third of the ministers are from Quebec.  

One thing they should all  be clear about.  Minority rights , unlike the mayor’s  view of history,  are non-negotiable.