With the encouragement of those in power, many are led to believe that democracy is an unaffordable luxury at this time. Debate, disagreement, dissension, and division are perceived enemies as surely as the virus is the real one.

In one of the government’s daily press briefings, Deputy Prime Minister Geneviève Guilbault used another D-word. She asked Quebecers to be docile (the meaning in French is about the same as it is in English) so that we can eventually come out of confinement. That put me in mind of Parti Québécois Minister Lise Payette and the Yvettes. During the 1980 referendum, Payette referred to a story about the docile schoolgirl Yvette of yore, to criticize the image of the stereotypical woman confined to her home and her housekeeping. In an analogy too far, she then called Liberal leader Claude Ryan’s wife an Yvette. This created the feminist federalist backlash of legend. Fifteen thousand “Yvettes” turned out at the old Forum, turning the tide of flagging federalist fortunes. One word from a Quebec minister...

Me. Howard Greenfield


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