This article was co-written with historian Raynald Rouleau as section two of a four part series. Part one can be read here.
During the summer of 1967, Canada was celebrating its centennial with the 100th anniversary of the British North America Act. It must be noted that the Canadian Confederation of 1867 was formed for no other reason but the protection of the empire against the republican forces of Abraham Lincoln in the United States and their allies in Canada as outlined in the CP lecture “The Missed Chance of 1867”.
That same year, the president of France would take the hand extended to him by Quebec Premier Daniel Johnson, which would send a shockwave throughout the entire North American continent. De Gaulle received an official invitation from the Premier of Quebec in May 1967, after Mr. Johnson himself was the General’s guest of honour in Paris.
During this historic meeting, France and Quebec had put an emphasis upon nine principled points of cooperation for the development of culture, technology, and industry. One of these points would involve Quebec’s entry into the Franco-German space program “Symphony”, for the development of communications satellites 6. We must remember that thanks to de Gaulle, France had become a world power centering on the pillars of “Progress, Independence and Peace”. De Gaulle would tell the people of Quebec: “Your history is our history. In reality this is the history of France”, he would add that within the circumstances “it is now up to you to play the role which was written for you, a French role”. This would not mean that those who spoke English or were foreign to France couldn’t play a “French role”. Are you inspired by the idea of “Progress, Independence and Peace”? If so, then in the mind of de Gaulle, you are French!
Continuing his voyage in Canada, de Gaulle would speak in the Town of Berthier on July 24 1967: “France for her part, after great obstacles and tests, is in the midst of a booming renewal and, you can see and feel it. It is an example both of progress for the world, but also an example of the service of men, wherever or whomever they are!”
Are these the words of an egotist, an ignoramus, a racist or a chauvinist as popular historians of the Empire would like you to believe?
Midway between Québec and Montreal, at the industrial city of Trois-Rivières, the General had launched a brilliant attack against the British Empire:
“When a nation is born, we cannot justify her existence and her rights, as you sung “Oh Canada” earlier, we cannot justify her existence and her rights unless we are moving towards progress. This is who you are, and I can see it from one end of Quebec to the other. You are in the midst of accomplishing magnificent economic and technological developments!”
If we look at the world today, those countries most under-developed are those territories which are under the influence of the British Empire. The “love of progress”, as de Gaulle describes it, is non-existent within the British Empire. Enslavement and the pillaging of resources are the only conditions within which the cancerous Empire can survive. But as Johnson and de Gaulle understood the problem clearly, cancerous cells have no lasting future. They die with the host which they had just killed. The greater their power, the faster their fall. A country cannot survive for long unless it is perpetually creating true wealth, unless it is progressing.
De Gaulle saw his intervention in Canada from 1960 to 1969 as not only an intervention into international geopolitics, but of primary importance for all humankind. Continuing his voyage along the shores of the St Lawrence River, he declared during a stop in Louiseville:
“this effort (the cooperation between France and New France for progress, independence and peace), this effort is something which France wishes to develop and you can count on her, since that which we do together, we French from one side of the Atlantic to the other, is what we can do to improve humanity as a whole”.