Was It A De Gaulle Trudeau did in India? By Jitendra Kumar Sharma

 Was It A De Gaulle Trudeau did in India? 

                     By Jitendra Kumar Sharma

“Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.” –T.S.Eliot

Comparisons are invidious but can be instructive. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent weeklong visit brings to mind French President Charles De Gaulle‘s  July 24-26, 1967  visit  to Montreal and his  highly provocative ‘Vive le Québec libre’ speech made  from the balcony of the Montreal City Hall on July 24, 1967. It was no mere diplomatic faux pas but a purposeful fulmination to fuel the furnace of separatism in Canada.

I then taught at McGill University and Pierre Trudeau had given up his academic position at ‘Université de Montréal to enter politics. I believe confirmed Federalist Trudeau’s rise to power was a direct consequence of De Gaulle’s ‘Vive le Québec libre’…….

 

“Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.” –T.S.Eliot

Comparisons are invidious but can be instructive. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent weeklong visit brings to mind French President Charles De Gaulle‘s  July 24-26, 1967  visit  to Montreal and his  highly provocative ‘Vive le Québec libre’ speech made  from the balcony of the Montreal City Hall on July 24, 1967. It was no mere diplomatic faux pas but a purposeful fulmination to fuel the furnace of separatism in Canada.

I then taught at McGill University and Pierre Trudeau had given up his academic position at ‘Université de Montréal to enter politics. I believe confirmed Federalist Trudeau’s rise to power was a direct consequence of De Gaulle’s ‘Vive le Québec libre’ speech. So also the Parti Québécois leader René Lévesque’s as an unremitting separatist leader. I had occasion to encounter both these very different mass leaders who livened up the Canadian political scene in the late sixties and played long innings in Federal and Provincial politics respectively.

Both McGill U and my residence were located in Mount Royal, Trudeau’s Jew-dominated, safe and perpetually Liberal constituency, also not very far from where René Lévesque lived. In fact, Montreal, Paris of North America, is named after Mont Royal, a three peaked hill where McGill U is situated. I was an eye-witness to Trudeaumania as well as Lévesque’s popular upswing. I recall he had a habit of twitching his left eye that, instead of distracting listener’s attention, gave him an advantage as a speaker. He was a successful communicator and a CBC broadcaster.

Lévesque and his party made maximum political gains from De Gaulle’s 1967 visit. Three years later, the Parti Québécois ran candidates in provincial election and in 1976, PQ separatist leader René Lévesque became Quebec’s first sovereigntist premier.

De Gaulle not only invited Canadian ire but was condemned in France also. French newspaper Le Figaro called it “a serious diplomatic failure” and some thoughtful Parisians reportedly sent floral bouquets to the Canadian embassy as tokens of remorse and apology. Even the mercurial General De Gaulle on July 25, 1967 after a visit to Expo’ 67 concluded his brief address with the slogan: “Long live Canada and long live Quebec.”

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, Nobel Laureate and seasoned diplomat, after an emergency cabinet meeting, issued an official rebuke declaring De Gaulle’s words as “unacceptable to the Canadian people and to its government.”

De Gaulle boarded his official airplane at Montreal’s Dorval, now Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

Justin Trudeau is not a De Gaulle, nor Narendra Modi a Pearson. Maybe, Justin a political yokel was learning a few tricks from his Indian counterpart, a former poor roadside tea-seller who wears exorbitantly expensive ceremonial costumes and entertains his audiences with his coarse humor, mimicry and Falstaff-like performance from his enormous daises.

In India, millions get comic entertainment from Prime Minister Modi free of cost. He has infected politics in other countries, including the USA, Australia and now Canada.

Both Trudeau and Modi face election in 2019 and their 2018 foreign trips are intently focused on home audiences.

Just as minoritarianism is a compulsion for Trudeau, so also majoritarianism is a compulsion for Narendra Modi. Both contributed to the comedy and bathos of a weeklong soap opera for TV audiences in Canada and India.

From Komagata Maru in 1914 when 352 Indian passengers were unable to disembark in Canada to six India-origin federal cabinet ministers, Canada has come a long way. Both in Komagata and in 2015 Canadian elections, the Sikhs have played outsize role in transforming Canada into a multicultural polity. Trudeau’s four out of six Punjabi cabinet ministers came with him and were on display at Sikh temples and receptions in India. Modi too carries a heavy cultural baggage on foreign trips. His visits to USA, Australia, Dubai are all focused on audiences at home. Even at WEF Davos, he had a king-size entourage that included $1.2 billion fraudster Nirva Modi.

It seems media “attack dogs” were lying in wait and pounced upon Trudeau and his caravan unawares.

Canadian prime minister’s visit was neither a “disaster” nor a “Cultural overkill”. It was the first encounter between Canada’s minority-driven multiculturalism and India’s currently majority-driven communalism. A somewhat chaotic rendezvous.

Western democracy is a conflict model and multiculturalist democracies thrive in chaos. Canada and India enjoy  a special people-to-people relations which shall deepen irrespective of relations between their governments.

However, Canada-India relations in public perception need resetting and Canada Government must learn from Trudeau’s expensive extravaganza.

For the diplomatic chaos Canada’s High Commissioner in New Delhi, Nadir Patel, must bear the brunt. He failed to brief his Prime Minister on official agenda, on protocol priorities like keeping Prime Ministers’ meeting in the last. All “recurrent diplomatic missteps” are attributable to him. India’s External Ministry brass do not take him seriously; he is happy hobnobbing with junior Bharatiya Janata Party’s office staffers like one Vijay Chauthaiwale who has access neither to Prime Minister nor Minister of External Affairs of India. Mr. Patel seems to have little knowledge of Canadian and Indian politics and culture.

His misadvising on the Khalistan issue and over-projecting Jaspal Atwal allegedly a terrorist sympathizer as Trudeau’s family friend, is a most serious lapse.

India is still literally bleeding from the British inflicted 1947 partition and Indian fissiparous tendencies are highly potential and explosive. Even a hint of separatist link of a visiting white western leader can cause mischief and undo friendship assiduously built over years as did De Gaulle’s 1967 visit to Canada.

==The End of ‘Was It A De Gaulle Trudeau did in India?’

By Jitendra Kumar Sharma===

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