By Yann Erhard
Dear Madame Le Pen,
I am writing you today to personally thank you. Thank you for being true to yourself. Thank you for everything you say publicly. Thank you for any stance you take. Most importantly, though, I want thank you, to have come so far from our homeland France to Quebec. We all know it must have been hard for you to be here, (though we all know it wasn’t because of the chilly temperatures) and so, I just wanted you to know that it was a real delight to have you here.
Let me tell you something: Canada’s views on immigration absolutely cannot be compared to Europe’s – it’s a matter of history.
It was a delight to watch you make a fool of yourself once again. This time not for French eyes, but those of every Canadian citizen. I have hardly seen a political figure be so unwelcome even by political parties that promote the same nationalist ideology you promote. Madame Le Pen, if you’re searching for an explanation to your overwhelming reception, look no more because I have to tell you that you’re the only one to blame. .
After all “You reap what you sow!” When you make addresses chalk full with your anti-immigrant slurs, and spout rhetoric that promotes hatred and racial divide rather than unity and peace – well, don’t be surprised to be greeted with a cold shoulder. It must have really hurt to be rejected that harshly, especially by Canadians, known as one the friendliest and most welcoming nations worldwide. When the most polite people in the world won’t give you the time of day, maybe you should get the hint; maybe you should change something.
And yet, I really hope you don’t.
You see, you still serve a purpose. I cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am for everything you do. Because you, and only you, Madame Le Pen, brighten my days in a way nobody has ever done before. You give a face to the ignorance and malice you embody – and every word that comes out of your mouth is a chance to deconstruct your arguments, piece by piece. You give me a something to break apart. I want you to keep doing what you’re doing, because it presents an opportunity to debunk the logic that people like you around the world espouse.
When you make addresses chalk full with your anti-immigrant slurs, and spout rhetoric that promotes hatred and racial divide rather than unity and peace – well, don’t be surprised to be greeted with a cold shoulder.
Apparently, welcoming 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada is “folly”, according to your press statements. Well let me tell you what the real folly is. It is to do nothing, say nothing, or remain passive in the face of the suffering of thousands of helpless people! You could argue that this refugee crisis does not concern France; that we should stay away from it. You are wrong. In today’s world, a crisis on one side of the globe can have major consequences for a nation on the other side. Not only that, it is our duty to lead by example and provide help to those in need the most. In this spirit, many others and I welcome the actions of the Trudeau’s government in welcoming Syrian refugees. Yes, such an appeal to human rights is surely simplistic, but put in context, the Canadian plan towards the refugee crisis is anything but shallow.
The only reason why Canada will succeed at welcoming refugees is because its government has a real plan, a strategy for this purpose with heavily involved actors. It is not only a government that is moving forward; it is its entire population that is opening its arms. As for the fear-mongering over a mass influx of migrants, the Syrians let into Canada will represent only about 0.7% of Canada’s total population – a small number compared with those of some European countries bemoaning the refugee crisis.
You also said that, “multiculturalism is [a] slow death for the host culture”. There again, you make assertions that hold no ground, madam. You criticized Canadian culture and policies when you spent just a few days here. Let me tell you something: Canada’s views on immigration absolutely cannot be compared to Europe’s – it’s a matter of history. From the very beginning, Canada has been a multicultural society with people that have immigrated from all over: Ireland to Newfoundland, Scotland to Nova Scotia, France to Quebec, Britain to Ontario, and all that have come since. Those cultures have some common values, but are still different. Yet they managed to combine – and to thrive – as one community by embracing their differences. There is a lot of value placed on immigration, which is something that has been nurtured for decades in Canadians hearts. The Canadians know how to respect and appreciate their differences, and that that will not change with these new immigrants.
You claimed that the French language is in decline in Quebec, “la cerise sur le gâteau’, but Madame Le Pen, I feel that French is quite strong in Quebec, and ironically, it’s thanks to the very multiculturalism you are fighting against. Yes, thanks to immigration. Quebec hosts many French speaking immigrants from countries like Haiti, Congo, Lebanon, Morocco, Rwanda, Syria, Algeria, France and Belgium. So many people from such distinct francophone societies contribute to keeping French as Quebec’s primary spoken language (used by 80% of the inhabitants). You just couldn’t have said anything more untrue. On the topic of the French language, I will concede you the fact that I’m writing to you in English about your presence here, but unlike you, I decide to be part of this multicultural, global world, where I am proud to be French, but proud also to embrace other cultures. It makes me a better person, and a more educated individual.
Dear Madame Le Pen, to conclude, I would like you to know that I will forever find joy in refuting anything you say. Madame Le Pen, you do not represent French ex-pats, and you do not represent the French people generally. Most importantly, you do not represent its youth; you do not represent our beautiful Republic, that holds dear the principles of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. These are the values that I will dedicate my life to protect – and especially from people like you.